INSIGHT by CPD
〉The World Benchmarking Alliance and CDP assessed the top oil and gas companies from around the world, including BP, ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco – finding that the oil and gas sector has made almost no progress towards the Paris Agreement goals since 2021.
〉Most companies fail todisclose their capital investment in low-carbon technologies. Among those who do, investment falls dangerously short; only one company – Neste – is currently investing enough to align with a 1.5 scenario.
〉The World Benchmarking Alliance and CDP call for rapid action from the oil and gas sector to ensure a just transition to a zero carbon future, with the need to see accelerated pressure from investors, policymakers and the public critical to hold the sector accountable.
WBA’s Oil and Gas Benchmark, developed with CDP using the ACT methodology, assesses and ranks the world’s most influential oil and gas companies, including TotalEnergies, Chevron Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporation, on their low-carbon transition and social impact. The research shows that even though the oil and gas sector has a wealth of resources and tools available to decarbonise, it is failing to use them.
| A dismal picture on decarbonisation
The seven major oil and gas companies made a record $380 billion profits last year but despite this, investment to reach a low-carbon economy has fallen dangerously short.
To halve the sector’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions, companies need to invest $600 billion by 2030 into low-carbon solutions. This is not happening. Only 12% of companies’ assessed Scope 1 and 2 emissions have decreased on track to limiting global warming to 1.5 C. Scope 1 and 2 methane emissions must be reduced by 60% by 2030, yet only 29 companies have even disclosed targets to reduce methane emissions by 2030.
About 80% of the sector’s emissions come from the combustion of oil and gas products. The sector’s only route to transition is phasing out fossil fuels. While this cannot happen overnight, companies are not even putting plans in place, and there is no sign that companies are slowing down extraction. Last year, the sector committed half a trillion dollars3 for new drilling and extraction. In fact, the 81 oil and gas companies with extraction activities are predicted to increase total oil production by 9% from 2021, peaking in 2028. Over half of companies assessed still link executive remuneration or incentives to the growth of fossil fuels, and only 18% of assessed companies have Scope 3 emission targets.
Only 25% of companies assessed report how much of their capital expenditure is invested in low-carbon technologies. On average, these companies only dedicate around 18% of their investment in decarbonisation. Just one company, Neste, invests enough for a credible transition, spending 88% of their investment on low-carbon options such as advanced biofuels.
Although no companies are performing well, the top 10 scoring companies are:
“This assessment of the oil and gas sector is critically timed before COP28, it must be used to re-enforce current cries that it is not possible for us to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and avert the worst impacts of climate change if we do not start to hold this vital sector to account.
We need to see the oil and gas sector gaze at its future through science aligned lenses, confronting structural, not cosmetic changes. Commitments and actions are limited across the board. Not enough companies have set targets, and of those that have, most don’t have targets that include scope 3 emissions reductions. Even the small number that have targets that include scope 3 are not supporting them with a credible transition plan. The advice could not be clearer from the IEA, we need to have stopped exploration by 2021, yet it is currently not set to peak until 2028.
A few companies in the benchmark show that there is room to transition for those that act now, the rest of the sector must follow suit, and quickly.”
-Amir Sokolowski, CDP’s Global Director, Climate
“The oil and gas sector’s failure to address emissions from its products and operations hampers international efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C. In the run up to COP28 in Dubai, all eyes are on the oil and gas industry. But these companies are not planning for a low-carbon future and are failing to take responsibility in the immediate and long term. It is deeply concerning that no companies have made a commitment to halt the expansion of fossil fuel activities before 2030.”
-Vicky Sins, World Benchmarking Alliance’s Decarbonisation and Energy Transformation Lead
| Some progress on human rights
In addition to decarbonisation, WBA is calling for immediate and significant investment in protecting workers and communities who will be impacted by the transition to a net zero future. A just transition must consider those who are at risk of negative impacts from necessary change, and account for them through investment in skills, training and human rights due diligence.
Despite the dismal picture on decarbonisation, the research shows that some progress has been made by some companies on human rights due diligence. 85% of companies are working to assess human rights risks, 56% of companies now have human rights policies and 12% demonstrate effective human rights due diligence, including identifying potential risks to human rights, integrating salient risks into planning, and proactively responding to issues.
While only 35% of assessed companies are committed to social dialogue, an increasing number of companies are engaging with stakeholders on just transition planning (currently 15% up from 8% in 2021). 4% of companies demonstrate social dialogue and meaningful engagement on all aspects of a just transition, up from 2% in 2021.
CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions.
World Benchmarking Alliance. Founded in 2018, the World Benchmarking Alliance is a non-profit organisation holding 2,000 of the world’s most influential companies accountable for their part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
| All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. investESG.eu is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.