Rise in emissions and unethical behaviour tarnish BP image

A rise in both the production of greenhouse gases and the number of workers sacked for "unethical behaviour" has tarnished BP's image as the more eco-friendly face of the oil industry.

The results are presented in the company’s annual sustainability report for 2004 which shows an underlying emissions growth of 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This was partially offset by energy efficient activities which removed 1.1 million tonnes, but still left a rise of 1.7 million tonnes.

Its output for 2004 therefore was 85.1 million tonnes.

This is far higher than many modern industrial countries such as Denmark and Norway which generate less than 70 million tonnes, and less than 65 million tonnes respectively for the same period, according to UNEP figures.

The company attributes the rise to the overall expansion of the group and points out that BP’s focus on energy efficiency has achieved sustainable reductions of around 4 million tonnes since 2001 through such initiatives as reducing the flaring of unwanted gas at oil fields.

BP also made its first profit from solar power in 2004 and recorded growth in its solar sector at 40% per year. Despite this, solar is still accounts for only a small fraction of BP’s total business.

Its environmental record was also tarnished by the fact that the volume of oil and chemical spills rose 50% to 5.7 million litres.

The report also shows that 252 people were sacked for “unethical behaviour”, a 50% rise on the previous year. BP put the sackings down to theft, fraud and harassment and has established a team to govern legal compliance and business ethics as well as enforce a company wide code of conduct.

BP now says it plans to spend US$1 billion over 10 years improving safety in its Russian oil fields but makes no mention of the explosion at its Texas City refinery last month which killed 15 workers.

By David Hopkins

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