BP boss announces aim for net zero carbon emissions by 2050

New CEO Bernard Looney said the energy company would have to ‘reinvent itself’

BP CEO Bernard Looney speaks during an event in London on February 12, 2020, where he declared the company's intentions to achieve "net zero" carbon emissions by 2050. British energy giant BP, under the leadership of new chief executive Bernard Looney, declared Wednesday its aim to achieve "net zero" carbon emissions by 2050, although it was vague on how it planned to hit the target. "BP's new ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner covers the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations worldwide... and the carbon in the oil and gas that it produces," said a statement ahead of a speech by Looney on plans to "fundamentally transform its whole organisation". / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
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BP’s new boss declared on Wednesday the oil and gas firm’s aim to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

"The world's carbon budget is finite and running out fast. We need a rapid transition to net zero," Bernard Looney said in a statement.

"We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner."

The energy company will seek to ensure the production of oil and gas does not emit carbon. It will also start measuring methane emissions at all its gas processing facilities by 2023.

The targets put BP ahead of its major rivals Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Equinor.

Mr Looney, who took over from American Bob Dudley last week, said BP would have to “reinvent” itself.

"Simply put, we have got to change. We want to change. And we will change," he added in an Instagram post.

Analysts said the plan showed that BP was not ducking big issues but it remained to be seen how fast investment would shift to low carbon.

"This announcement commits the company to investing more in low carbon businesses and less in oil and gas over time. How fast BP’s capital investment shifts to low carbon businesses is yet to be seen,” said Professor David Elmes, an energy expert at Warwick Business School who started his career with BP in the 1980s.

“They have made a string of investments so far in technology companies around the world but they will be measured and compared by the proportion of the £15 billion or so of capital they invest each year.”

In 2019, BP invested $500 million in low-carbon technologies. This was in comparison to last year’s overall budget of $15.2 billion.

Greenpeace said BP's plan lacked detail, leaving many questions unanswered.

"How will they reach net zero? Will it be through offsetting? When will they stop wasting billions on drilling for new oil and gas we can't burn?," Charlie Kronick, Oil Advisor from Greenpeace UK, told Reuters.