Oil Giant BP Has Pledged To Go Carbon Neutral By 2050

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“Any move like this has to be looked at with a critical eye to see if it’s greenwashing or if it’s real,” one climate activist said.

ByZahra Hirji

The oil giant BP announced on Wednesday morning that it plans to become a net-zero company by 2050, meaning it would only generate as much climate pollution as it can pull out of the atmosphere.

“The world’s carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero,” BP CEO Bernard Looney, who started the job this month, announced in a statement. “We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner. To deliver that, trillions of dollars will need to be invested in replumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system. It will require nothing short of reimagining energy as we know it.”

BP’s bold climate announcement comes as fossil fuel companies face increasing pressure from activists, stakeholders, and city and state officials looking to hold them accountable for a warming planet. BP is one of several companies being sued by multiple US cities and states for climate impacts.

Activists expressed caution on whether to celebrate the oil giant’s announcement before knowing specifics on how they planned to achieve such a massive change.

“The oil industry writ large is struggling for social license right now,” Kert Davies, climate activist and founder of Climate Investigations Center, told BuzzFeed News. “Any move like this has to be looked at with a critical eye to see if it’s greenwashing or if it’s real.”

As part of its new climate strategy, BP says it will install equipment at all major oil and gas processing sites to measure emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by 2023. The company did not define what constitutes a major processing site.

BP also pledged to “reduce methane intensity of operations by 50%,” but did not offer an exact timeline.

Additionally, the oil company has vowed to increase its investment in non-oil and gas business over time, to advocate for pro-climate policies, such as carbon pricing, to be more transparent in its climate reporting, and more.

The new announcement offered few details on how exactly the company, whose business is currently reliant on the production and burning of fossil fuels, a major contributor to climate change, will meet these bold goals. BP said it will set out its strategy and near-term plans in September.

“Looney deserves support and credit for starting BP on the journey towards carbon neutrality and policy leadership. The direction is good, and we look forward to hearing more about the specifics,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “Time will tell if he gets BP where it needs to go. It’s real actions and verifiable emissions reductions that will be the measure of success.”

This is a developing story.

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  • Zahra Hirji is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC

    Contact Zahra Hirji at [email protected]

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