Five oil and gas giants are ‘failing emissions targets’

16 November 2018

TPI warns investors, including the Church, that companies are flouting Paris agreement

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Chevron is one of five oil and gas companies not to have set climate-change targets

Chevron is one of five oil and gas companies not to have set climate-change targets

FIVE of the main oil and gas companies have not set climate-change targets, the latest research from the Transition Pathways Initiative (TPI) shows.

Chevron, EOG Resources, Exxon Mobil, Occidental, and Reliance Petroleum have no targets for reduction of quantitative emissions. Eni, BP, and ConocoPhillips have targets covering only operational emissions, the research published last week shows.

This means that, of the ten biggest oil and gas companies, only two — Shell and Total — have targets that bring them into line with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

The TPI has developed an online data-analysis tool to help investors to assess how effectively companies are addressing climate change (News, 13 January 2017). Over the past two years, it has gained the backing of investors, among them the Church Commissioners and other church bodies, that hold assets worth more than £9 trillion.

In July, the General Synod instructed the investors in charge of the Church of England’s funds of £8 billion to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies by 2023, unless the latter can prove that they are on the path to tackle climate change (News, 13 July).

Although Shell and Total’s targets meet the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pledges made by governments at the Paris agreement, they still do not meet the requirements that scientists say are needed to keep global warming below 2°C (or 1.5°C) by 2050.

The director of ethics and engagement for the Pensions Board, Adam Matthews, who co-chairs the TPI, said that more stringent targets were “essential” for those involved in the TPI project to continue to invest in the companies.

“Forward-looking life-cycle emission targets that take account of all the impact of a company’s carbon footprint are essential if we, as investors, are going to have confidence in the strategy of companies we invest in,” he said. “We want to see evidence of a company’s commitment to the transition to a low-carbon economy, and this latest research from TPI is not comfortable reading.

“We welcome Shell and Total’s leadership in setting out their ambitions. We note that, while they are moving in the right direction, and are ahead of their peers, this study suggests they are not yet ambitious enough to align with a pathway to below 2° of warming by 2050.”

“Targets that cover all of a company’s emissions, from production to use of their sold products, provide a transparent basis for asset-owners to engage with oil and gas companies on their strategies to transition.”

Professor Simon Dietz, who is leading the TPI’s research at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, said: “The most significant finding is the emerging status of companies’ future ambitions. It is encouraging to see two major oil and gas companies, Shell and Total, setting out long-term ambitions to reduce carbon emissions’ intensity in a way that is compatible with the government pledges made at the Paris climate agreement.

“However, there is a long way to go. None of the ten largest global oil and gas firms currently set a path that would align them with limiting global warming to 2°C or below before 2050. To reduce the carbon footprint of the sector, these companies need to set more stretching low-carbon targets.”

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