The call from various environmental groups to cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is commonplace and longstanding, and usually does not pique my interest. But the same call really stands out when it comes from the CEOs of 10 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, which provide 20% of the world’s oil and gas production and 10% of its energy supply.
Late last week these 10 CEOs declared their support for a climate change agreement to be reached at next month’s 21st session of the UN Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The companies that make up the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) committed to a goal of preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. The current rate of GHG emissions, they admitted, is inconsistent with achieving that goal.
Signatories to the declaration were:
- Helge Lund, BG Group
- Bob Dudley, BP
- Claudio Descalzi, ENI
- Emilio Lozoya, Pemex
- Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries
- Josu Jon Imaz, Repsol
- Ben van Beurden, Royal Dutch Shell
- Amin Nasser, Saudi Aramco
- ldar Sætre, Statoil
- Patrick Pouyanné, TOTAL
OGCI was established following discussions held during the January 2014 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and was officially launched at the September 2014 UN Climate Summit. The voluntary CEO-led initiative aims to take action on climate change within the oil and gas industry.
The OGCI member companies claim that they have taken significant actions to reduce their GHG footprint, cutting emissions from their operations by around 20% over the past 10 years.
However, before greenies celebrate too joyfully, they should know that Big Oil (through the OGCI) is not looking to lower emissions by cutting back on production, but by producing more energy though in a less environmentally harmful way.
Indeed, OGCI’s collaborative report is titled More Energy, Lower Emissions. It highlights the practical actions that member companies are taking to improve GHG emissions management, including major investments in natural gas, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage, as well as in research and development to slow emissions growth.
OGCI committed to making progress in five major areas:
- Efficiency: improving efficiency of operations, fuels, and other products, and working with manufacturers and consumers to improve the fuel efficiency of trucks and cars
- Natural gas: increasing the share of cleaner-burning natural gas for power generation, eliminating “routine” flaring, and reducing methane emissions at well sites
- Long-term solutions: investing in R&D to reduce GHG emissions, increasing adoption of carbon-capture and storage technologies, and increasing the share of renewables in the global energy mix
- Energy access: partnering with local and national authorities to provide more people with access to energy
- Partnerships and multistakeholder initiatives: accelerating climate change solutions by working collectively or individually in industry and other initiatives
OGCI plans to release its first joint report in late 2015 ahead of the next session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The report will communicate actions taken by member companies to address climate risks, supported by data and case studies, and highlight areas that member companies will focus on in the future.
Will this go far enough for environmentalists?
We’ll have to see, but it is at least encouraging to see that major GHG creators recognize the problem and have publicly taken the pledge to be greener.
Whether this is greenwashing or a significant industry shift that actually changes the GHG emissions trajectory will take some time to measure.
British editorial veteran Stuart Hampton has been covering oil and gas companies for Hoover’s since the Neogene-Quaternary period. Well, actually, since the early 1990s. For the best overview of the oil industry and its history he recommends Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize.” You can also follow Stuart on Twitter.
Photo courtesy OGCI.