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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chevron's pledged this week to cut emissions intensity — that is, emissions per unit of energy produced — from its oil and gas production.

Why it matters: The oil giant hasn't been as aggressive on climate change as European-based oil majors like Shell.

Yes, but: The company has stepped up its activities in recent years with moves including ...

  • Investments through its venture arm in companies like the EV charging player ChargePoint, and the CO2-removal firm Carbon Engineering.
  • Last year joining the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a coalition of oil majors working on the topic.

However, as this Financial Times piece points out, Chevron's investment in low-carbon energy is smaller than some rivals.

What they're saying: Advocates pushing the oil majors to do more were lukewarm on Chevron's announcement when I touched base with them yesterday.

  • “It’s a relatively small intensity goal. ... It certainly does not feel like something that has a whole lot of teeth or ambition," said Bruno Sarda of CDP North America (CDP was formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).
  • He notes that intensity targets allow overall emissions to keep rising, even if production is more efficient.

Indeed, that distinction between intensity and absolute emissions is evident in Chevron's announcement.

  • “Global demand for energy continues to grow, and we are committed to delivering more energy with less environmental impact,” CEO Michael Wirth said.

By the numbers: Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company behind Exxon, said that by 2023, it would cut emissions intensity of its oil production by 5-10% and intensity of natural gas production by 2-5% by then.

What's next: More pressure on Chevron from activist investors. “The pressure is going to continue until they make a commitment to absolute emissions reductions that align with the science,” Sarda said.

  • One area to watch: Chevron, and several other majors, have not followed a small handful of European players including Shell and Total S.A. in setting goals for reducing emissions from the use of their fuels in the economy.
  • "Investor concern is not focused on operational emissions — which is what this [new Chevron] goal addresses — but on the carbon embedded in the industry's core products," Andrew Logan of the sustainable investment advocacy group Ceres tells me.

Go deeper: Sizing up Big Oil's clean tech moves

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
6 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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