Statoil: Carbon price should be Paris priority

EXCLUSIVE: An international price on carbon is the most efficient way of driving investment into low-carbon technologies and should be a policy priority at the Paris climate change conference in December.

That’s according to Charlotte Wolff-Bye, vice-president of sustainability at Norwegian fossil fuel giant Statoil – a company that has been subject to a Norwegian carbon price since 1991.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Wolff-Bye said a carbon price had forced Statoil to operate at a lower carbon intensity of 9kg of CO2/barrel of oil equivalent on the Norwegian continental shelf, against a world average of 17kg.

She said: “You need incentives to change how you produce energy and the ‘polluter-pays’ principle is the best way to do that.

“We are not representatives in the Paris process but a price on carbon would be the most efficient way of driving investment into low carbon technologies in our view.

“There needs to be other things of course – such as investment into R&D and innovation – but a price on carbon has worked for us and that’s why we are strong proponent for it.

“The market will always sort itself out.”

There are already a variety of regional carbon markets, including schemes in California and Alberta, as well as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. China is also set to introduce a carbon price by 2017, proving that a global scheme is not beyond the realms of possibility, according to Wolff-Bye.


However, she also pointed out that the problem of climate change was too great for one policy, industry or company to tackle alone.

“It’s a mammoth, colossal problem that we face and it will touch every industry,” she added.

The threat of global warming is the driving force behind the “hundreds of collaborations” that Statoil has recently developed with Governments, NGO’s and other corporations, in a bid to green its operations.

Earlier this year, for example, Statoil partnered with GE to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing global oil and gas production, including flaring, CO2 and methane emissions, and water usage. The partners are deploying their financial weight and technological know-how on the issues, but have also thrown certain problems to ‘open innovation challenges’ to encourage novel solutions outside of traditional corporate strictures.


When asked if improving the efficiency of oil and gas production was looking past the main problem – that the majority of fossil fuels potentially cannot be burned on a 2C planet– Wolff-Bye pointed to the IEA’s own two-degree scenario, which hypothesises that fossil fuels could still supply two fifths of the planets energy by mid-century.

“Whatever the increase in renewables, the oil and gas industry is not going anywhere, so it very important that oil and gas is produced as efficiently as possible,” she said.

“No company can do it alone. “We need all hands on deck to innovate, as we don’t have a lot of time.”

Charlotte Wolff-Bye at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum

Wolff-Bye is among the expert speakers at edie’s ninth annual Sustainability Leaders Forumwhich takes place on 19 November at the Hotel Russel in London. 

Wolff-Bye will be presenting a talk on the topic ‘Connecting the big and the small in solving global sustainability challenges‘.

Find out more about the Sustainability Leaders Forum and register to attend here.

Brad Allen

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