Major US and European oil and gas companies are failing to meet the bare minimum of their promises to reach net zero by 2050 in order to align with the Paris Agreement, according to a new study released today.
Big Oil’s climate plan failure
The report, titled “Big Oil Reality Check,” was released today by Washington, DC-based Oil Change International in collaboration with over 35 global organizations. The report, which updates an inaugural 2020 study, analyzes the latest climate pledges of BP, Chevron, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, and TotalEnergies against 10 minimum benchmarks for alignment with the 1.5C temperature goal outlined in the Paris Agreement.
The analysis provides new data on the climate crisis from the eight companies’ near-term plans to develop new oil and gas extraction projects.
The report finds the Big Oil and Gas are involved in over 200 expansion projects on track for approval from 2022 through 2025. If they go forward, these companies’ investments could create an additional 8.6 billion tonnes (Gt) of emissions. Oil Change International reports that that’s the equivalent of the lifetime emissions of a whopping 77 new coal-fired power plants.
Oil Change International found that all eight of these companies’ climate pledges and plans are grossly insufficient. Chevron and ExxonMobil in particular are assessed as grossly insufficient on all criteria. Only Eni is “close to being aligned” in one category:
At Shell’s AGM today in London, 80% of shareholders voted in support of Shell’s climate strategy and the progress it had made in the past 12 months. That was down from the 89% that backed the strategy when it was unveiled in 2021. A group of around 50 shareholders protested:
And ExxonMobil today saw the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reject a bid by the oil giant to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state that accuses the company of misleading the public about the role its fossil fuels play in causing climate change, AP reports.
Kelly Trout, research co-director at Oil Change International, said:
Instead of facing up to the reality of the climate crisis and cutting fossil fuel production, our analysis found that these big oil and gas companies plan to keep adding fuel to the fire.
Fossil fuels are hurting millions of people’s health
Further, a new geospatial analysis released today, which was conducted by FracTracker Alliance in cooperation with Washington, DC-based nonprofit Earthworks, shows 17.3 million people, including 3.9 million children under 18, reside within a half-mile health-threat radius of active oil and gas production. In total, 213,794 square miles – an area larger than Texas – are under threat. Since 2017, 4.7 million more people live within the threat radius.
This analysis comes as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalizes its widely supported proposed safeguards to reduce methane emissions and associated air pollution from new and existing oil and gas production facilities. The EPA is also getting ready to propose a supplemental rule later in 2022 to end routine flaring, close loopholes for smaller leak-prone wells, and encourage citizen monitoring.
In the United States, oil and gas production is the largest industrial methane polluter, a greenhouse gas at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Peer-reviewed science shows that toxic pollutants released along with methane from oil and gas production facilities puts people at risk for cancer, respiratory illness, fetal defects, blood disorders, and neurological problems, and that risk increases for children and the elderly.
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