February 27th, 2020 by Steve Hanley BP, which may have done more damage to the Earth’s environment than any corporation in history, with the possible exception of ExxonMobil, says it wants to clean up its act and become a “net zero” business by 2050. New CEO Bernard Looney hasn’t been exactly clear on how he…
February 27th, 2020 by Steve Hanley
BP, which may have done more damage to the Earth’s environment than any corporation in history, with the possible exception of ExxonMobil, says it wants to clean up its act and become a “net zero” business by 2050. New CEO Bernard Looney hasn’t been exactly clear on how he intends to make that happen, however, and there are plenty of skeptics who think all this happy talk from Looney is little more than greenwashing.
This week, BP severed ties with three oil industry lobbying groups, saying it had a basic philosophical difference with them when it comes to their climate-related policies and activities, according to The Guardian. During the past 6 months, BP says it has reviewed its climate policies and compared them with those of 30 industry trade groups.
Looney says, “BP will pursue opportunities to work with organisations who share our ambitious and progressive approach to the energy transition. And when differences arise we will be transparent. But if our views cannot be reconciled, we will be prepared to part company. My hope is that in the coming years we can add climate to the long list of areas where, as an industry, we work together for a greater good.”
And so BP says it is withdrawing from membership in the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a group that also saw Shell and Total depart last year. It is also ending its association with the Western States Petroleum Association and the Western Energy Alliance. It cited differences of opinion on carbon pricing as a basis for its decision regarding all three groups, as well as a conflict with WEA over federal rules for methane emissions.
It has also identified 5 other organizations it has partial disagreements with but has decided not to sever relations with them. They are the American Petroleum Institute, Australian Institute of Petroleum, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, National Association of Manufacturers, and the US Chamber of Commerce. All of them actively lobby against any and all regulations that might in any way burden fossil fuel companies.
AFPM CEO Chet Thompson, seems to be at a loss to explain BP’s decision. “We are certainly disappointed with BP’s decision,” he tells The Guardian. “We do not believe that BP’s trade association report accurately reflects AFPM’s position and commitment to finding solutions that address climate change. As an active member of our executive committee, BP knows full well that AFPM recognizes that climate change is real and that we are committed to engaging on and developing policies that enable our members to provide the fuels and petrochemicals that humanity needs to thrive in a sustainable way.”
Uh-huh. One of the ways AFPM is responding to climate change is to lobby on behalf of oil companies to weaken the landmark US environmental laws enshrined in the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act. Environmental advocates allege such changes will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the warming of the planet.
BP, along with ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and Total, spends nearly $200 million each year to lobby for weaker climate policies by world governments. BP spent $13 million last year to defeat a carbon tax proposal in the state of Washington. So it’s no wonder some people are skeptical of its promises and motives.
Mel Evans, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, is scathing in his views of the company. “Judge a company by the company they keep. BP are sticking with the American Petroleum Institute, the lobby group who wrecked Obama’s methane restrictions,” she tells The Guardian. “When BP remains part of a group whose position they claim to oppose, it’s easier to get clarity on what they really think by looking at where their money is going – more oil, more gas, more climate change. This report appears to be tokenistic, inadequate and hypocritical — like all of BP’s climate plans that we’ve seen so far.”
An analysis by Nasdaq.com suggests BP is planning to use carbon credits extensively to reach its net zero goal. It will have to. The Guardian suggests it will need to reduce its emissions every year by more than the total emissions of the UK. Nasdaq.com also notes BP is making a play for biomethane, also known as renewable natural gas. The process basically captures methane generated by landfills. It may be better than extracting new methane by fracking and other means, but it is nowhere near the benefits that accrue to society by using renewable energy like hydro, wind, and solar.
What we are left with are some grand pronouncements by BP, some baby steps toward reaching its stated carbon reduction goal, and a realization that BP intends to keep selling fossil fuels for a very long time. The global economy is predicated on burning fossil fuels. Only when that paradigm shifts to one that focuses on zero emissions renewables will the threat of an overheated planet be addressed in any meaningful way.
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