Monday, October 3, 2022

‘No global oil major is in line to meet Paris agreement goal’

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New Delhi: A report by Carbon Tracker has said that none of the oil majors of the world — ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, Total — have low-carbon project options that would help meet the Paris climate agreement goal by 2040. The long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The report said that global oil majors would need to cut group production by 35 percent by 2040 to align with the Paris agreement goal. It also warned that other fossil fuel producers, especially those with undiversified portfolios, may need to make much deeper cuts.

What’s the current status?

While ConocoPhillips faces the biggest production cuts of 85 percent, ExxonMobil, the biggest oil major, would need cuts of 55 percent, Eni requires cuts of 40 percent, Chevron and Total both 35 percent, and BP 25 percent. Shell’s portfolio is most aligned but it would still need cuts of 10 percent, the report said.

Exxon, Total and Conoco have few low-cost, low-carbon project options that would be economic in a 1.
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6˚C world. A quarter of ConocoPhillips’ production is from rapidly declining shale/tight oil and it has few sufficiently competitive projects to replace this production within a B2DS budget. This is also a factor in the declining production for ExxonMobil and Chevron.

“Only Shell, Total and Repsol have targets which include the “Scope 3” emissions created by burning their products, which account for the vast majority of CO2 related to fossil fuel use. While an improvement on many peers, they have only pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy they produce, which means they can continue to grow fossil fuel production — increasing CO2 emissions overall and leaving open the risk of stranded assets. Our climate system works on finite limits, so strategies that allow infinite growth are a square peg in a round hole,” Carbon Tracker said.

‘Very little headroom for new fossil fuel projects’

The report warns that oil projects already approved are almost sufficient to meet demand in a 1.6˚C world and there is very little headroom for new fossil fuel projects. This analysis factors in a relative shift from oil to gas, with average absolute carbon emissions reductions of 40 percent by 2040 required by the majors to stay within budgets, the report said.

To have any chance of reducing warming to “well below” 2˚C or to “pursue efforts” to hit the ultimate Paris target of 1.5˚C, cuts will have to be made across the industry; after all, the majors alone represent a minority of global production. For investors, however, the focus will be on efforts to mitigate risks and maximise returns at their own investee companies rather than other potential asset stranding elsewhere.

‘No one has committed to an absolute cap on full-cycle emission’

The majors have set out a range of emissions targets and ambitions in response to investor pressure, but none has committed to an absolute cap on full-lifecycle emissions and the production limits that are necessary to align with Paris agreement goal. Additionally, company targets often only apply to the portion of production they actually operate, the report said.

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