Oil giants withhold support for EU climate target

Some of the world’s largest oil companies have declined to support a plan that would eradicate the EU’s net carbon emissions by 2050, an investigation by Unearthed has found.


The European Commission believes net emissions must be cut to zero by 2050 to achieve the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels.

However, BP, Shell, Italian major Eni, and Spanish firm Repsol have all rejected the opportunity to back the proposal, despite publicly supporting the Paris Agreement.

The new target is significantly more ambitious than the EU’s current goal to cut emissions by 80-95% by 2050, and will be debated at a meeting of world leaders in Brussels today.

When contacted by Unearthed, which is the journalism arm of Greenpeace UK, a BP spokesman said the firm supports a carbon neutral future “in the decades to come”, while a spokeswomen for Shell also declined to give a specific date.

“BP and Shell have been barriers to climate action for years,” said Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas. “All the science underlines the urgency of decarbonisation, yet these two fossil fuel dinosaurs are clinging to their out-dated and out-of-touch business models while the climate crisis worsens.”

Unearthed said BP, Shell and Repsol did not say whether the EU’s 2050 target should be kept the same or changed to net zero when responding to a European Commission consultation.

The International Oil and Gas Producers Association (IOGP), an industry lobby group whose members include BP and Shell, also rejected the opportunity to back the new target.

This is in stark contrast to the position of Norway’s state-controlled oil company Equinor, which has stated that carbon neutrality is needed between 2045 and 2055.

Unearthed also said that British Gas-owner Centrica, which originally opposed a 2050 net zero emissions target, had performed a U-turn and now supports the goal.

A spokesman said: “As a result of new evidence being provided to us, we support the view that a net zero emissions target for 2050 will be a challenging target to meet, but it is the right thing for the UK and EU to aim for.

“We have written to the UK government in support of its emissions commitment, and we have declared our own ambition to develop a path to net zero by 2050.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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