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Are Oil Companies’ Plans Aligned with 1.5C and Paris?

Oil platform, by tsuda, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0
Oil platform, by tsuda, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The IPCC AR6 says that we have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and by 100% by 2050, to have a chance of staying under 1.5C.

If we emit another 500 billion tonnes of CO2, we have a 50% of hitting 1.5C.

Environmental Research Letters

A study published in Environmental Research Letters in May 2022 found that ‘committed emissions’ from existing or under-construction coal mines and oil and gas fields amount to 936 billion tonnes.

The Paris Agreement target of 1.5C implies leaving 40% of those developed fossil fuel reserves – the 936 billion tonnes – unextracted.

That is not what the oil companies are planning; they are still exploring for new reserves.

For example, BP says it will not explore new regions after 2030, but it will persist with new exploration until then, and with exploration around existing finds after 2030.

A Mismatch Between Rhetoric and Action

Carbon Brief says there is a mismatch between oil companies’ rhetoric and their action.

There is an increasing number of mentions of climate change in the annual reports of Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell, but less than 1% of their capital investment from 2010-18 was in low-carbon technology.


BP was the best of a bad bunch, with 2.3% of its capital spending on low-carbon tech in that period.

Another BP statistic relating to a different period, 2016 to early 2022, is that it spent $3.2 billion on clean energy and $84 billion on oil and gas exploration and development.

According to an IHS Markit article (which is somewhat hard to decipher), BP adjusted its sustainability plans in February 2022. The report says that BP intends to hold oil and gas production levels “broadly flat through 2030” – so no cuts in this critical decade.

Reclaim Finance called on investors to vote against BP’s climate plan at an AGM on 12th May 2022.

Reclaim Finance said that BP is on track to overshoot its 2050 1.5C carbon budget by 51%. More than 80% of its budget will be used up by 2030.


Shell has a target to become a “net-zero emissions energy business by 2050”, but it spent only 1.3% of its capital budget on low-carbon investments from 2010-18.

In its PR materials, Shell is obliged to include a Cautionary Note:

‘It is important to note that as of February 11, 2021, Shell’s operating plans and budgets do not reflect Shell’s Net-Zero Emissions target.’

shell pr material disclaimer
Are Oil Companies’ Plans Aligned with 1.5C and Paris?

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