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BP aims for carbon net zero by 2050

By Ashley Norris

Ambitious plans would cut more greenhouse gas emissions every year than produced by the whole of the UK

BP has unveiled ambitious plans to reduce the oil company's carbon footprint to net zero by 2050.

In a statement, the company's new chief executive Bernard Looney admitted it was clear that BP needed to change and would focus on removing “all the carbon we get out of the ground as well as all the greenhouse gases we emit from our operations”.

“The world's carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero,” he added.

The company is committed to removing more than 400 million tons of carbon emissions a year from its oil and gas business. If successful, the plans would cut more greenhouse gas emissions every year than produced by the whole of the UK.

The move follows similar announcements by rival oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA.

Details about how the company will achieve its aims are sketchy, with Looney only saying that the company will “invest more in low-carbon businesses, and less in oil and gas over time”. The company will apparently still be delivering oil and gas in 2050 but less than it produces today. Some of its carbon emissions will be offset by initiatives such as tree planting and carbon capture technologies.

Looney says that more details on the process will be distributed at an investor meeting scheduled for September.

The announcement has been welcomed in some quarters and greeted with scepticism in others. Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of shareholder pressure group Climate Action 100+ and the chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, told The Guardian that investors would continue to look for progress from BP. This includes how it would invest more in non-oil and gas businesses and ensure its lobbying activity supports delivery of the Paris agreement.

Charlie Kronick, oil adviser from Greenpeace UK, argued that BP’s plans “leave the urgent questions unanswered. What is the scale and schedule for the renewables investment they barely mention? And what are they going to do this decade, when the battle to protect our climate will be won or lost?” he asked.

FURTHER READING: Oil prices hit BP profits

FURTHER READING: UK Government launches £315m fund to decarbonise heavy industry

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