Many people have listened with skepticism as major oil companies have touted clean energy and made net zero pledges. And they’re right to doubt the fossil fuel giants, according to a new study that concludes there’s a lot of greenwashing going on.
“The clean energy claims of BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell: A mismatch between discourse, actions and investments,” was published in PLOS ONE on Wednesday. After examining records and analyzing data from the four titular oil companies, the researchers determined that oil exploration is increasing rather than decreasing. While the companies more and more frequently bandy about the terms “low-carbon,” “climate” and “transition,” concrete action plans are scant.
“Financial analysis reveals a continuing business model dependence on fossil fuels along with insignificant and opaque spending on clean energy,” the researchers wrote. Which is the opposite of what the companies claim and what every country that signed the Paris Agreement allegedly supports.
The three study authors, Mei Li, Jusen Asuka and Gregory Trencher, are affiliated with Japanese universities. “If they were moving away from fossil fuels we would expect to see, for example, declines in exploration activity, fossil fuel production, and sales and profit from fossil fuels,” Trencher said, as quoted in The Guardian. “But if anything, we find evidence of the reverse happening.” He compared the oil companies to naughty schoolboys who promised teachers to do their homework but just slacked off.
Spokespeople from all four companies answered the study with more of the same. ExxonMobil framed its commitment in an especially noncommittal way. According to a spokesperson, “The move to a lower emission future requires multiple solutions that can be implemented at scale. We plan to play a leading role in the energy transition, while retaining investment flexibility across a portfolio of evolving opportunities, including for example carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels, to maximise shareholder returns.” Unfortunately, the shareholders won’t find much to spend their returns on once the planet heats up past the point of habitability.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Pexels