Hot air: BP is talking a lot about emissions, but scaling back its targets

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A little less conversation…

In recent weeks, oil giant BP has quietly scaled back its climate commitments. The original goal, a 35-40% reduction in emissions by 2030 (relative to 2019 levels), has now been downgraded to a more modest 20-30% cutback. The less ambitious target comes after BP made record profits of $27.7bn last year.

The changes come after a multi-year charm offensive to rebrand BP, with its annual reports giving a sense of just how much the corporation is talking about clean energy. Over the past decade the use of the words “sustainability”, “emissions” and “renewable” has continued to climb, getting mentioned a total 637 times in the 2021 annual report. That’s a 600% increase on 10 years prior, although the reports themselves have become ~30% longer too.

…a little more action, please

BP's moving goalposts follow a year in which prices for fossil fuels soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Convincing shareholders that renewable energy investments would yield similar returns to reliable hydrocarbon projects is presumably difficult to begin with, and doubly so when oil prices surge to decade-highs at $110 a barrel (as they did last year).

In fairness to BP, even with the tempered 2030 emissions targets, the company has maintained its ambition to get to net zero by 2050 — and its goals remain some of the most aggressive of any major oil company.

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Hot air: BP is talking a lot about emissions, but scaling back its targets
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