Monday, 25 October, 2021

Investor group sets tough climate blueprint for Big Oil

LONDON: Investors managing more than US$10 trillion published an ambitious blueprint on Wednesday for energy companies seeking to tackle climate change, including sharp cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and a winding down of oil and gas production.

The unprecedented initiative - dubbed the Net Zero Standard for Oil and Gas - details 10 required standards to help money managers compare companies’ strategies and understand whether they are aligned with United Nations-backed efforts to reduce global carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, report agencies.

Oil and gas companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have published targets and strategies aimed at battling climate change, but the huge variation in scope, definitions and ambition makes analysis and comparison exceedingly difficult for investors.

At the same time, pressure has grown on portfolio managers and banks to ensure that their investments chime with the 2015 Paris accords to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

With the next round of global climate talks taking place in November, concern is growing that too many plans are flaky and unlikely to provide material help by reducing absolute emissions at the rate needed to limit global warming.

“We need to have a level playing field now on disclosure because it’s not possible to compare and contrast across the sector,” said Adam Matthews, who is head of responsible investment at the Church of England Pensions Board and chaired the investor-company process to develop the new initiative. Other investors to back the plan include Amundi, Europe’s biggest asset manager, along with Britain’s Legal & General Investment Management, HSBC Global Asset Management and state-backed Canadian investor Caisse des Depots among others.

Given the fossil fuel industry is responsible for the lion’s share of global emissions, the investor group said it is introducing a minimum set of standards to ensure that energy companies’ plans are “credible”.

Among these is a requirement to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, meeting emissions-reduction targets along the way while aligning capital expenditure and production plans with the net zero target.

The standards also demand commitments to disclose and independently verify strategies.

Shell, Italian company Eni and Norway’s Equinor have all set targets to become net zero emissions by 2050, meaning that any emissions they produce will be offset by carbon capture technologies or other solutions, such as reforestation.