International fossil-fuel corporations BP and Shell are preparing for a world in which global temperatures will have risen by 5 degrees Celsius while publicly portraying themselves as supporters of the Paris agreement. A 5 degree temperature increase represents more than double the limit of 2 degrees set out and agreed to by most nations on Earth in the Paris agreement. This difference between publicly supported goals and privately pursued plans represent an effort to mislead the public and shareholders, claims investment campaign group Share Action. Because of the disparity in representing risk of catastrophic climate change by BP and Shell, the pensions of millions are at risk. Beyond the financial implications, such a stance may indicate BP and Shell’s commitment, or lack thereof, to the goal of the Paris agreement.
In 2015, BP and Shell shareholders overwhelmingly voted to require the companies to make in-depth disclosures regarding climate risks posed by their business model. Although the companies are meeting their legal requirements, reports from Share Action suggest that they are failing to truly invest in a post-carbon business model required if the planet is to avoid catastrophic climate change. For example, the companies have not set emission reduction targets while their investment in renewable energy has fallen since 2005. BP invests only 1.3 percent of total capital expenditures on clean energy projects, while Shell has declared that it will invest 3 percent of its annual spending on clean energy by 2020.
Although Shell recently reaffirmed its commitment to the goals of the Paris agreement (“Shell has a clear strategy, resilient in a 2°C world,” it said in a statement), executives at both BP and Shell are still incentivized to pursue new fossil-fuel heavy projects. “Shell and BP want to have their oil and drink it too, by advocating for the landmark Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C degrees, while planning for scenarios that would violate it,” said Michael Chaitow, senior campaigns officer at ShareAction. BP and Shell seem to be “poorly prepared for the speed of technological and economic change now underway in the global energy market,” said Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction. In response to criticism, BP has said that the company “anticipates a range of scenarios to give us flexibility in our approach.”
Via The Independent