Energy giants want to be part of green agenda
by Lord Oxburgh
From Brent Spar to the Arctic 30 protesters, oil and gas companies have traditionally been regarded as the environment movement’s most implacable foes. So it is hard to overstate the significance of the letter sent in June by six of the largest European oil and gas firms to the United Nations and its member governments. Their message, in essence: “We would like to be part of the climate change solution, not part of the problem.”
The companies, including Shell and BP, called for “widespread and effective pricing of carbon emissions”. They also backed a bigger role for natural gas, the burning of which releases around half the carbon emissions of coal. The companies are expected to publish more detailed proposals on Friday, ahead of this year’s potentially pivotal UN climate summit in Paris.
Many people working in the sector, as I did, have a background in science or engineering. They understand the evidence pointing to a need to end fossil fuel use on a timescale of decades. But the companies’ letter implies a recognition of two further truths.
First, the nature of their business is inexorably changing. Renewable energy is booming in markets from China to the US. So far, renewables have maintained rather than grown their market share. So while they do not present a serious threat in the near term, at some point, they will.
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