With the confirmation of President-Elect Biden now certain, three credible vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic entering final stages of approval, and governments around the world seeking to spur a green economic recovery, we bring 2020 to a close with a great deal more certainty and hope for 2021 than we might have thought possible only a few months, if not weeks, ago.
While we may bring in the New Year still suffering from the vast health, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, there is growing optimism that better days are to come and governments can begin the year on a stronger footing, better equipped to address an even bigger global challenge – climate change.
With the essential expertise to provide secure and affordable energy while driving lower carbon solutions, 2021 presents an exciting opportunity for the UK’s oil and gas industry to show its commitment to positive change and I am confident we are up to the challenge.
Things are moving fast. It’s clear that Biden will commit the US to decarbonise at least as fast as China. Some two thirds of the world’s economy by GDP has now committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or 2060.
Over the last six months, we have seen a sea change in global mindsets towards the energy transition, and I am pleased to say that the UK offshore oil and gas industry was already ahead of the game, announcing ambitious targets in June to halve its own emissions by 2030, seizing the opportunity to share and to collaborate with others to address the biggest challenge to world now faces.
As the first G7 country to legislate for net zero by 2050, last year our industry came out in full support of Roadmap 2035, our ambitious blueprint for achieving net zero both as a sector and in support of the wider economy.
Even as we felt the full weight of the pandemic upon us earlier this year, we developed ambitious emissions reductions targets and committed to report on these annually to demonstrate progress.
Every day we hear more stories about how our changing industry is becoming more sustainable, bringing low carbon solutions to life and working in partnership with governments and policy makers to identify where we can make a real impact.
At the same time, we kept working throughout the pandemic to provide the energy and products needed by millions of households across the UK.
We haven’t lost sight of the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the health of our people and world-class companies. Time will tell the true scale of jobs and work lost, but only a glimpse on Energy Voice or LinkedIn confirms how tough it remains for so many.
Finding a pathway which helps reposition our industry for the new era, identifying new opportunities and ensuring we can continue to provide the secure and affordable energy and products the UK needs is therefore essential.
In a year we would sooner all forget, there is merit in banging our own drum and taking pride in what we’ve achieved in the face of adversity.
With COP26 on the horizon, and a changing global will in support of the UK’s progressive agenda, 2021 could see our industry truly come of age.
We can show global leadership in how oil and gas producing countries can successfully and fairly transition to net zero and harness the benefits of a homegrown transition.
Our supply chain can bring its unique experience to build this better future in the UK and abroad.
While there are certainly tough times still ahead, with the right support this industry can look to 2021 with more hope, and a clearer pathway to an exciting future.