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Big oil companies aren't the only ones paying attention to climate change. Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the largest U.S.-based oil producers, released this week its first-ever sustainability report that analyzes how the company would fare in a carbon-constrained world.

Why it matters: Pioneer is a dominant producer in Texas' prolific Permian oil basin in West Texas, so their move to publish such a report suggests it's not just the biggest, most global oil and gas companies acknowledging climate change is a material business risk. It also shows the impact of investor pressure. The sustainability report was required by a shareholder resolution vote earlier this year.

"It is significant that Pioneer, perhaps the most influential company in the Permian, is publishing a sustainability report for the first time," said Andrew Logan, who directs the oil and gas program at Ceres, a group urging more sustainable investments. "It should lead to pressure on its peers to follow suit."

The big picture: Oil and gas companies based in the U.S. with mostly domestic operations, like Pioneer, are responding to growing concerns about climate change and sustainability by cutting costs to become hyper lean oil producers. The world is going to need a lot of oil for a very long time, even in a lower-carbon world, and relatively smaller companies with less capital to put in riskier investments hope to be among the companies providing the oil.

Gritty details: The 51-page sustainability report covers a range of environmental efforts at the company, including how it manages spills and minimizes emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that's the primary component of natural gas. it also includes a detailed analysis of how the company would fare in a carbon-constrained world, which was an additional step not required by the shareholder vote.

"Recognizing this is an important issue for many of our stakeholders, we decided to go ahead and tackle it, and that's why it's in our inaugural report we put out this year," Mark Berg, an executive vice president at Pioneer told me by phone Wednesday.

The report finds that Pioneer is positioned to survive — and even thrive — in a world with ambitious reductions in carbon emissions because of its low-cost attribute. The company says its break-even point is $24 per barrel, meaning it can make money even with oil prices quite low in a potential carbon-constrained future where prices have dropped a lot because of lower demand.

One level deeper: Berg says Pioneer is considering leasing some of its land in West Texas — it has about 800,000 acres — to wind companies to develop wind-energy projects. The idea would be to lease the surface of the land that they're developing oil and gas from below the surface.

"We are certainly looking at opportunities to be creative in how we manage our oil and gas," Berg said.

On top of being America's biggest oil and gas producing state, Texas is also the nation's biggest wind producer, and dual use of its land for both wind and oil development is common. But, Berg says he's not aware of any other oil and gas operators who are leasing their land to wind companies.

Go even deeper: I've covered this dynamic in a few of my Harder Line columns this year:

Go deeper

UN warns of "catastrophic" climate change failure without more emissions cuts

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at a news conference. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

A United Nations report released Friday warned that the planet will likely warm by more than 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless governments take extra steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Why it matters: The report, released just months ahead of November's UN Climate Summit, highlights the growing pressure on global leaders to crack down on emissions to avert the worst effects of climate change.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon approves request for 100 National Guard troops for "Justice for J6" rally

Security fencing has been reinstalled around the Capitol. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from Capitol Police to provide 100 D.C. National Guard troops in case law enforcement requires additional support at Saturday's "Justice for J6" rally at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Security preparations have ramped up ahead of the pro-Trump demonstration, where hundreds of protesters sympathetic to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are expected to gather.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10% of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.