Eight in ten oil and gas majors on track to breach Paris Agreement, despite increase in net-zero pledges

In terms of market capitalisation

Published today (24 November), the analysis from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) is the first to confirm that multiple oil and gas firms are now operating in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C pathway, namely Eni, TotalEnergies and Occidental. Additionally, Imperial Oil and Tatneft were deemed to be aligned with the Paris Agreements’ 2C pathway.

This means that, ultimately, 48 of the 53 companies are set to generate emissions higher than their carbon budget in a Paris-aligned world. This cohort includes some notable firms which claim their net-zero frameworks are robust, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

A particular weakness was found to be the disclosure of Scope 3 (indirect) emissions and credible targets for reducing them. For oil and gas majors, customers using sold products will typically account for vastly more emissions than their direct operations.

The TPI assessed companies’ current levels of emissions as well as the strength of their emissions reduction plans through to 2030 and 2050 – and the likelihood of them achieving them under current company governance and investment approaches. The 1.5C net-zero pathway used by the analysts is that detailed by the International Energy Agency (IEA).  

More than 110 investors with more than $39trn in assets under management collectively have pledged to support the TPI, so the findings could push those investing in the energy sector to increase engagement with many of the named firms. 

“Concerningly, for investors there remains a significant distance between net-zero rhetoric and net-zero reality in the case of most fossil fuel majors,” said the TPI’s chairperson Adam Matthews.

Mining and utilities

The TPI also looked at the decarbonisation progress and pledges of 76 electric utilities and six diversified mining firms with coal mining operations. Across this whole cohort of 140 businesses, most (66%) were not aligned with either of the Paris Agreement’s pathways.

The only companies aligned with 1.5C, other than the three oil and gas majors mentioned above, are E.ON, RWE, Orsted, Public Service Enterprise Group, EDP, Eversource Energy, Con Edison, CMS Energy, AES, Meridian Energy and Enbw Energie. The TPI has said that, while electric utilities deserve credit for setting credible net-zero targets, progress remains too slow overall.

“While the pace of transition efforts in energy supply sectors has increased, it has not yet reached the level which is necessary to prevent the worst consequences of climate change,” said co-author Nikolaus Hastreiter.

“One-third of the assessed electricity utilities have published encouraging net-zero targets, even though particular attention must be paid to their timelines. To keep global warming to 1.5C, the sector must reach net-zero already by 2040 on a global level. The sector plays a crucial role as a first mover in the zero-carbon transition, given that the decarbonisation plans of other sectors anticipate the use of carbon-neutral electricity in the future.” 

Earlier this week, a separate analysis of 50 large electric utility firms found that almost all (98%) companies were operating in a manner inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature pathway. That analysis was conducted by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), CDP and ADEME.

Sarah George

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