Oil Firm CEOs Cannot Count to 3

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Could it really be that oil company executives cannot count to three?  The Greenhouse (GHG) Protocol divides harmful emission into three categories, but the fossil fuel industry seems worryingly obsessed with the first two.  Scope 1 represents a company’s direct GHG emissions and Scope 2 those emissions caused by the electricity, heat, steam, or cooling it purchases and uses.  This is great for a spoon maker, for instance.  Job done.  There are no further GHG emissions associated with spoon use – unless it is used to consume a particularly potent curry.

    Unfortunately, big energy firms seem to count themselves alongside the spoon makers, making a big noise about abating their Scope 1 and 2 emissions while appearing oblivious to the vast majority of their GHG pollution.  That occurs during product end use and should therefore be captured in Scope 3.  Norwegian energy firm Equinor announced last month that it was bringing the world’s largest floating wind farm into operation.  Hang on, you might say, is that not a fine example of a fossil fuel company on its way to making the all-important transition to low-carbon alternatives?  Well, it turns out Equinor cannot count to three, as 100% of the new Hywind Tampen facility’s output will go to powering offshore oil and gas platforms.  This provides a decent hit on the company’s Scope 2 emissions but does absolutely nothing to mitigate or reduce its Scope 3 GHG impact.

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    Perhaps this is a blip on an otherwise unblemished climate strategy.  Sadly it is not, as according to a newly published Greenpeace study, Equinor only spent 3% of its capital expenditure (capex) on genuine renewable projects in 2022.  In fairness the environmental NGO’s analysis revealed that Equinor is far from alone, with most large energy firms investing meagre amounts in renewables despite bumper profits.  Greenpeace also found that the oil and gas companies’ definition of low-carbon investments is quite broad, and typically includes more controversial or untested solutions like carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), blue hydrogen made with natural gas, and the purchase of carbon offsets.  Even when including the companies’ full range of supposed low-carbon investments, the results demonstrate that the sector is still putting roughly 90% of its capex towards existing or new oil and gas production.

    As previously reported in NordSIP, the fossil industry’s own Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) is a big fan of numbers 1 and 2.  The headline statistics that flash up on the organisation’s website relate to reduced upstream emissions and carbon intensity, along with increased low-carbon investment since 2017.  As usual, the latter figure is given as an absolute USD number, without the context of total capex.  There is scant mention of its members’ Scope 3 emissions, which continue to grow.  The Laundromat would like to politely suggest that fossil fuel CEOs should return to kindergarten, where they can be properly introduced to the number 3.

    Image courtesy of Pexels from Pixabay
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