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Oil majors claim ‘prudent action’ on climate under way despite ‘alarming’ report

Shetland oil
BP's Clair Ridge installation, west of Shetland, started up in 2018.

Some of the world’s biggest oil firms have claimed they are taking “prudent action” on climate goals, despite a new report suggesting production from new fields will breach the Paris Agreement.

Today’s report by international NGO Global Witness forecasts that the proposed £3.7 trillion expected to be spent on future exploration and extraction are “incompatible” with the global 1.5 degree target.

The study also claims that ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and French oil firm Total will collectively spend more than £420 billion on new fields.

It claims there is an “alarming gap” between oil investment and climate targets.

But Chevron and Shell hit back at the report’s findings, claiming they were “committed” to climate goals.

A Shell spokeswoman said the oil giant was dedicated to “playing its part” and has “set an industry-leading target to reduce not only our own emissions but also those of our customers when they use our products”.

A Chevron spokeswoman said the US firm was taking “prudent cost-effective actions” to address climate change risks.

Global Witness claims that, despite a drop in oil price since 2014, investment by oil majors is due to exceed £770bn a year.

It adds that two thirds of fresh investment will take place in new fields.

Murray Worthy, senior campaigner at Global Witness and author of the report, said: “This analysis should encourage the escalation of investor engagement efforts to challenge oil and gas majors to credibly align their business plans with the Paris goal.

“Blindly pushing ahead comes with huge financial risks for investors, either as a result of the transition to a low carbon economy, or as the devastating consequences of a changing climate stack up.”

Shell’s spokeswoman said the firm agreed that “action is needed now” on climate change, adding that it would “evolve” as the energy system changes.

She added that Shell “continues to invest in a range of low-carbon technologies”.

Chevron said: “We believe climate change is real and human activity contributes to it.

“We accept the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and see the Paris Agreement as a step forward to meeting the global challenge.

“Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement and action.”

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