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The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative,Monday Sept. 24. Photo: Amy Harder/Axios

NEW YORK — CEOs of the world’s biggest oil and natural gas companies are pledging to cut their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by one-fifth despite staying silent on the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback on the matter.

Why it matters: The announcement made Monday by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of top oil companies that represent nearly a third of the world’s oil and gas production, is a significant move given methane's impact in warming the planet is far greater in a shorter time span than carbon dioxide.

The big picture: Cutting methane emissions is one focus of the group, which now includes ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and Chevron. The other pillars include carbon capture technology and cutting emissions in the transportation sector.

Yes, but: In interviews with Axios and during a public event in New York on Monday, several oil executives declined to comment one way or another about the Trump administration’s rollback of two parallel regulations — one at the Environmental Protection Agency and another at the Interior Department. At Monday's public event, Ken Alex, a senior advisor to California Gov. Jerry Brown, asked the CEOs if they would state their opposition to Trump's moves to scuttle the regulations? They opted not to do so.

“We’re not going to go out and criticize any government around their role. That’s not productive.”
— Bob Dudley, BP CEO, in an Axios interview
“We are not in politics. We are in business. I need to do the right things for business ... I’m not here to advocate for or against an administration or a particular political development.”
— Ben van Beurden, Shell CEO, in an Axios interview

Between the lines: Corporate CEOs are notoriously cautious with political moves, and this case is no exception. But rhetoric aside, the disconnect between the Trump administration and the world’s biggest oil companies is growing on climate change.

  • “The commitment to reduce methane emissions to these low levels and to measure it and record it is a big step forward and I think it proves that OGCI is not just talk but action,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Krupp, whose centrist environmental group works with oil companies to cut emissions, added though that he thinks regulations are needed to compel other companies toward similar action because the group’s companies “themselves only represent a minority of emissions so we need the other companies.”

Go deeper

Former Sen. David Perdue to launch bid for Georgia governor

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Former Senator David Perdue (R) plans to announce a campaign against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, according to a source familiar with Perdue's thinking.

Why it matters: Perdue's challenge to his former ally Kemp sets up an unprecedented "scorched earth" battle between Georgia Republicans fueled by former President Donald Trump, in the battleground state. The news was first reported by Politico.

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.