Feb 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

BP's climate move could mean new pressure on Exxon and Chevron

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

BP's new emissions pledge could create more pressure on U.S.-based giants Exxon and Chevron.

Why it matters: European oil behemoths have been more active on climate than their U.S. counterparts.

Context: BP vowed "net-zero" emissions from its operations and oil and gas it produces by 2050 and a 50% cut in emissions intensity from products it sells.

The big question: Now the question is whether BP's plan — which is the most aggressive among super-majors, albeit lacking detail — will change the landscape.

  • "If we do see capital flowing into BP, that may force the U.S. majors to rethink the speed at which they move on carbon reduction targets," Noah Barrett of the asset management firm Janus Henderson told Bloomberg.
  • But he does not see the U.S. companies "adopting a BP-like strategy in the near future."

Where it stands: One big dividing line between European and U.S. majors is companies' willingness to set any kind of goals around Scope 3 emissions.

  • Those are the emissions from the use of a company's products in the economy from driving and so forth, and they're vastly larger than emissions from companies' direct operations and energy use.
  • BP's Scope 3 target is a mix of commitments: an absolute net-zero target for the use of the oil and gas it produces, but the intensity target once you include the oil and gas they buy from other companies to process and sell.

What they're saying: An HSBC note this morning calls the new plan "potentially a game-changer for the company and the industry."

  • "For a company of BP’s scale, a net zero scope 3 footprint from its own production introduces a climate-related ambition on an unprecedented scale."
  • "It also points to a dramatic transformation of the business, including an inevitable shrinkage of the upstream business over time."

Go deeper: BP vows to "fundamentally" change with net-zero emissions target

Go deeper

BP vows to "fundamentally" change with net-zero emissions target

Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

BP said Wednesday that it is reorienting its business with new climate targets — including first-time emissions commitments for its products' use in the economy — and a new team to help countries, cities and other companies cut carbon.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how multinational oil-and-gas giants — especially European-headquartered players — are expanding climate pledges under intense pressure from activists and investors.

Big Oil begins to broaden scope of its carbon emissions targets

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Only a very small handful of oil companies have laid out any kind of targets around Scope 3 emissions, which make up the vastly larger pollution from the use of their products in the economy, but that's quickly changing amid rising activist and investor pressure on oil giants over global warming.

Driving the news: Oil-and-gas giant Equinor rolled out on Thursday new climate plans that include a pledge to cut carbon intensity (that is, emissions per unit of output) by at least 50% by 2050 — a commitment that will cover Scope 3.

Dominion joins power giants' net-zero carbon emissions push

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

The huge utility Dominion Energy vowed Tuesday to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Virginia-headquartered Dominion has ranked among the country's 10 largest power generators and operates in 18 states.