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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A group of the world's largest oil-and-gas companies this morning pledged near-term cuts to greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

Why it matters: It's the latest step by energy giants — including Exxon and state-owned behemoths like China's CNPC — to address climate change. Activists say, however, the industry as a whole is moving far too slowly compared to the scope of the problem, especially outside of Europe.

How it works: The 12-member Oil and Gas Climate Initiative's target is to cut emissions intensity from exploration and production operations by 2025.

  • The target is 20-21 kilograms of CO2-equivalent per barrel of crude oil equivalent, down from a "collective baseline" of 23 kilograms in 2017.
  • The goal encompasses emissions of CO2 and the potent greenhouse gas methane.

The intrigue: "Intensity" means emissions per unit of output, as opposed to promising absolute reductions.

But OGCI said that if production levels remain constant, the pledge amounts to absolute emissions cuts equivalent to the energy use of 4-6 million homes.

What they're saying: “I don’t think it’s a small achievement to bring all these companies together — national oil companies, who have their own pressures, European and U.S. companies have different government and shareholder pressures on them — actually work together, particularly during the pandemic," Bob Dudley, the group's chairman and former BP CEO, tells Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Fund's Mark Brownstein, who carefully tracks industry methane emissions, offers a mix of praise and criticism here.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Japan expected to aim to go carbon-neutral by 2050

Data: IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Japan's newly elected Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is slated to announce a target next week of making the nation carbon-neutral by 2050, per reports in Nikkei, Reuters and elsewhere.

Why it matters: Japan is one of the world's largest carbon emitters, per International Energy Agency data, though far smaller than China, the U.S. and India.

1 hour ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.