Big Oil Becomes Greener With Cuts to Gas Pollution

There is an increasing trend of emissions disclosure among major oil companies.There is an increasing trend of emissions disclosure among major oil companies.

It is no secret that oil majors are among the biggest corporate emitters of pollution. What may be surprising is that they are reducing their greenhouse-gas footprints every year, actively participating in a trend that has swept up most corporate behemoths.

Sixty-two of the world’s 100 largest companies consistently cut their emissions on an annual basis between 2010 and 2015, with an overall 12% decline during that period, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The findings suggest the most polluting industries had started fighting climate change before US President Donald Trump took office and signaled he would back out of the Paris accord on limiting fossil fuel emissions.

Now, as European officials say the White House may water down its commitment to Paris instead of scrapping the deal, the BNEF report suggests industry is scaling back the emissions.

“This is a reflection of growing pressure from shareholders, investor groups and civil society for more disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as setting reduction targets,” said Laura McIntyre-Brown, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the author of the report.

“There’s also an evident trend of increased emissions disclosure among many of the biggest companies.”

The five biggest oil companies—Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., BP Plc and Total SA—collectively curbed their pollution by an average of 13% between 2010 and 2015, the report said. BP cut the most at 25.5%. Exxon, the largest emitter among listed companies, pushed it down by 14%.

The report shows a reverse from previous decades, when scientific warnings about climate change were new and the companies behind the most emissions lobbied policymakers to ignore the issue.

As mega-storms like Hurricane Irma this year and Sandy in 2012 raised consciousness about the issue, companies even in the oil business have taken steps to rein in pollution and associate themselves with the green agenda.

The reductions recorded by the 100 top companies saved 70.7 million tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Because emissions data take so long to compile, 2015 is the latest year covered.

While some of the reduction from the big oil companies is probably due to the crash in oil prices that began in 2014, leading to lower activity across the energy industry, all five majors have enacted climate and efficiency policies, as well as anti-pollution measures, the report said.

As the energy sector pollutes more than any other industry, even marginal gains can have a significant impact.

Big Oil collectively saved 56.7 million tons of greenhouse gases between 2010 and 2015. That sum excludes Chevron, which only started reporting in 2012.

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