Energy giant BP has told shareholders its net zero transition is “deepened and accelerated” by the Covid-19 pandemic, but kept quiet on the fine print.
At the company’s 111th AGM earlier, hosted online for the first time due to the virus, chief executive Bernard Looney said the more he learns of the crisis, the more convinced he is that BP’s climate goals “are right”.
However many shareholder questions on how the goals will be achieved, how directors’ pay will be linked, and how losses on renewables investments will be reported, were sidestepped as both Mr Looney and chairman Helge Lund said they will deliver “the next level of detail” in September.
The responses were characterised by one given to the Follow This group, who asked whether BP will see an absolute reduction in emissions, as well as a “fundamental shift” from fossil fuels investment to renewables.
Mr Looney answered: “While I can’t give you an answer right now, as we’ve discussed, you’ll be aware that this is something that we have been and are working on.
“We expect to set out more detail on our near and medium-term plans for the next decade at a capital markets day in September.
“This is a journey that is going to play out over decades, and we will have more of the answers to your questions as we go along that journey, but we will provide the next level of detail and we look forward to sharing with shareholders.”
BP, who reported a £3.6bn first quarter loss in April, announced the goal to go net zero by 2050 in February, although campaigners have remained sceptical on how it will be achieved.
BP said then that it intended to share its plans at a September capital markets day.
Mr Lund did say that the firm intends to include an annual review of progress towards its climate goals, in line with the Paris Agreement, in next year’s corporate reporting documents.
Meanwhile Mr Looney said the firm is “absolutely focussed” on the goals set out in February, adding that recent events such as “uncertainty for future demand for oil” and increasing attractiveness of renewables strengthens their resolve to shift.
Campaign groups have accused the firm of mixed messages around achieving net zero while also continuing oil and gas exploration, leading to a “socially distanced” protest by Greenpeace outside the St James’s Square headquarters in London.
BP said the current crisis is “of a different scale than any experienced before”, including “world wars, oil shocks, depressions and recessions”.
However, Mr Looney said they would emerge stronger.
He added: “We are in action, not just to weather the storm but to emerge transformed and stronger for the opportunities ahead in the energy transition and our net zero ambition.”