Energy Groups Support UN Climate Talks

Energy Groups Support UN Climate TalksEnergy Groups Support UN Climate Talks

Oil and gas industry bosses pledged on Friday to curb gas flaring as they sought to boost their image in the climate change debate ahead of a United Nations summit later this year, but disagreed on putting a price on carbon emissions.

The leaders of 10 companies that produce 20% of the world’s oil and gas recognized that current greenhouse gas levels were inconsistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, but stopped short of outlining goals to cut their own emissions.

The executives of eight companies held an unprecedented joint press conference in Paris, calling for an “effective” agreement at the UN summit in December, where negotiators from almost 200 nations will meet to try to forge a global climate change agreement, reuters reported.

While promising to collaborate on limiting gas flaring at refineries, the group, which calls itself the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, failed to find common ground on a mechanism for carbon pricing, which leaders of seven European companies adhered to earlier this year.

The group said it will encourage the private sector to use cleaner sources of energy and develop new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

“We have international oil companies and national oil companies and some of the nations have a different view on carbon pricing as a group,” BP chief executive officer, Bob Dudley, said.

“We actually think this is the route that will allow us to allocate our capital and make our investments. It isn’t written in the report because we wanted to bring a group together committed to many of the other broader goals out there.”

Officials who attended the leaders’ discussions ahead of the press conference said the heads of the national oil companies of Saudi Aramco and Mexico as well as India’s Reliance Industries preferred not to include a reference to carbon pricing.

The rift will amplify an already deep divide between Europe’s Total, BP, BG Group, Eni, Statoil and Repso,l and their US peers, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, who stayed away from the initiative.

For many of the companies, this is a fight for the future of the oil and gas sector in the public debate, as a rising number of organizations and politicians call for minimizing the use of fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

“Sometimes in all these discussions you have the impression that all fossil fuels are the bad guys. But the bad guys are part of the solution,” Total chief executive, Patrick Pouyanne, told a gas and electricity summit in Paris on Thursday.

  Little More Than Hot Air

Critics say, however, that without clear goals to cut their emissions, oil companies’ efforts would have little impact.

Charlie Kronick of environmental campaign group Greenpeace said: “Their latest intervention contains nothing meaningful that will significantly aid the decarbonization of the global economy. The world should thank them for their offer of advice, but politely turn it down. Arsonists don’t make good firefighters.”

The oil and gas company chiefs, however, insisted their commitment to reducing harmful emissions was sincere and said it was a unique occasion in which the companies, more used to competing, had decided to collaborate.

Diplomats gather in Bonn from Monday for the last formal session ahead of the Paris climate talks in December.

The International Energy Agency forecasts oil will remain the largest energy source by 2040, although its share will decline while renewable sources of energy will grow.

All major emitting countries have now submitted plans to the United Nations detailing how much they plan to curb their emissions.

For oil executives, pledges by key oil consuming countrie, including China and India, to cut fossil fuel consumption have crystallized their need to act.

The World Bank estimates around 300 million tons of carbon dioxide is emitted from gas flaring each year, equivalent to around 77 million cars.