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February 12, 2020

BP sets out new purpose and 2050 net-zero emissions plan

UK-headquartered oil and gas company BP today announced it will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “by 2050 or sooner”.

By Matthew Farmer

UK-headquartered oil and gas company BP today announced it will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “by 2050 or sooner” and several changes it will make to accomplish this.

It has published a ten-point plan, including five targets for BP to achieve net zero and five on how BP can support a global goal. The plan also outlines a company reorganisation, a new corporate purpose and an intention to continue growing despite changes.

The company’s targets for itself start with a commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, “after deduction of sinks, removals or reductions”, by 2050.

It will offset emissions from the burning of all oil and gas it produces, known as scope 3 emissions. Another aim is to reduce the lifetime emissions for every unit of energy produced by 50%, including scope 3 emissions.

As part of this, it will increase investment into non-oil and gas businesses. Its website says it is “very likely” it will still be refining oil and gas in 2050 but in smaller volumes.

BP sites will install methane measuring equipment by 2023, and then halve the methane produced in extraction.

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It aims to achieve these goals while still paying off debts, growing cash flow and delivering targets for 2021.

BP CEO Bernard Looney said the company does not currently have short-term targets, adding: “We don’t expect progress to be in a straight line. But make no mistake… The direction is set.”

“Helping the world get net zero”

The plan says BP will “help the world get to net zero”, and includes wider climate goals for this.

One of BP’s goals is to be “a leader for transparency of reporting”, working with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) on transparency of reporting after 2020.

The company has also committed to stop corporate reputation advertising.

The company has announced it will “more actively” advocate climate policies to reduce emissions. Examples given include carbon pricing and using more resources for climate policies.

It says it will also change how it works with trade bodies. It says it will be “making the case for BP’s views on climate change, being transparent where views differ, and being prepared to leave those where alignment cannot be reached”.

The company will also form a team to help countries and companies reduce their emissions.

Restructuring, repurposing, renewing?

From 1 July, an internal restructure will combine the upstream and downstream sections of BP. Employees will be incentivised for helping deliver the net-zero target.

New NP CEO Bernard Looney said: “Our historic structure has served us well but, in order to keep up with rapidly-evolving customer demands and society’s expectations, we need to become more integrated and more focused.”

The announcement follows speculation about how Looney will address climate issues. Since starting in the role, his London office has been beset by climate protests.

The company has changed its corporate purpose to “Reimagining energy for people and our planet”.

Looney said: “This will certainly be a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. It is clear to me, and to our stakeholders, that for BP to play our part and serve our purpose, we have to change. And we want to change: this is the right thing for the world and for BP.”

BP’s chairman Helge Lund added: “Aiming for net zero is not only the right thing for BP, it is the right thing for our shareholders and for society more broadly.

“As we embark on this ambitious agenda, we will maintain a strong focus on safe, reliable and efficient operations and on delivering the promises we have made to our investors.”

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