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Oil groups budget just 1% of spending to green projects
The world’s biggest energy companies are spending only a fraction of their investment budgets on low-carbon projects, even as the oil and gas industry comes under fire for its contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions.
European companies such as Total, Shell, Equinor and Eni are among those spending the most on low-carbon investments, but the industry on aggregate allocated just 1.3 per cent of its total 2018 capital expenditure to these ventures.
The figure is in a new report from environmental non-profit and investment research provider CDP, which has ranked 24 companies by their preparedness for a global transition towards cleaner fuels.
European energy majors, which are pivoting towards less-polluting gas, setting climate-related targets and investing in low-carbon technologies, ranked the highest in building
resilience. China’s Cnooc and Sinopec, Russia’s Rosneft, and Marathon Oil of the US were at the bottom of the list of 24. “The shift to a low-carbon economy presents the question of what role oil and gas companies will play,” said Luke Fletcher, senior analyst at CDP. “Companies are now facing increasing scrutiny from investors.”
Shareholders have put pressure on energy companies to take responsibility for the sector’s role in contributing to global warming. Even as a number of companies have launched initiatives to cut gas flaring, reduce methane emissions and set long-term ambitions to reduce their net carbon footprint, environmental advocates and investors do not believe they have gone far enough.
Increased investor scrutiny has come as oil and gas players are grappling with how to invest in greener investments when they are not as profitable as their traditional fossil fuel businesses.
Investors are also pushing companies to invest in projects that will be economically resilient as the world shifts towards greener energy and provide disclosures of the risks posed by global warming for investor returns and financial stability.
Energy majors are recovering after a multiyear oil downturn that forced companies to cut costs, pay down debt and rein in spending. As crude prices and cash flows pick up again investors are demanding that they divert investments into clean energy.
Big producers have warned that forcing companies to pull back spending on traditional oil and gas projects in favour low-carbon investments or flexible US shale production will only threaten energy security and create supply shortages.
“Renewables are growing at a remarkable rate,” BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley said last month, adding they could supply about a third of the energy mix by about 2040. “But we still need to meet the remaining two-thirds of demand.”