Climate emergency: what the oil, coal and gas giants say

Matthew Taylor
Photograph: Jessica Lutz/Reuters

Shell

“We agree that action is needed now on climate change, so we fully support the Paris agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power, to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions. Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We’re committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs.”

ExxonMobil

“News reports that claim we reached definitive conclusions about climate change decades before the world’s experts are simply not accurate. We believe climate change is a serious issue and it’s going to take efforts by business, governments and consumers to make meaningful action. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions. We have laid out in detail how these claims have been manufactured here, and some examples of how our research has been misrepresented is also here


The Guardian has collaborated with leading scientists and NGOs to expose, with exclusive data, investigations and analysis, the fossil fuel companies that are perpetuating the climate crisis – some of which have accelerated their extraction of coal, oil and gas even as the devastating impact on the planet and humanity was becoming clear.

The investigation has involved more than 20 Guardian journalists working across the world for the past six months.

The project focuses on what the companies have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions they are responsible for, since 1965. The analysis, undertaken by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute, calculates how much carbon is emitted throughout the supply chain, from extraction to use by consumers. Heede said: "The fact that consumers combust the fuels to carbon dioxide, water, heat and pollutants does not absolve the fossil fuel companies from responsibility for knowingly perpetuating the carbon era and accelerating the climate crisis toward the existential threat it has now become."

One aim of the project is to move the focus of debate from individual responsibilities to power structures – so our reporters also examined the financial and lobbying structures that let fossil fuel firms keep growing, and discovered which elected politicians were voting for change. 

Another aim of the project is to press governments and corporations to close the gap between ambitious long-term promises and lacklustre short-term action. The UN says the coming decade is crucial if the world is to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global heating. Reining in our dependence on fossil fuels and dramatically accelerating the transition to renewable energy has never been more urgent.



Chevron

“Chevron is taking action to address climate change by investing in technology and low-carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to produce affordable, reliable, and ever-cleaner energy to support social and economic progress. We support an honest conversation about how we balance energy supply for a growing world, economic development and the environment.”

PetroChina

“We implement the low-carbon development strategy proposed by the Chinese government, and we strive to be the supplier of clean energy and the promoter of low-carbon transition of the society, and share the practices of greenhouse gas control with industry peers and all segments of society.

“We proposed the 2030 target for new energy development, specifying that the revenue of the new energy sector will account for approximately 10% of our total by 2030. The company has also put forward the low-carbon development objective, targeting to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of industrial value-added by 25%, compared with 2015, by 2020. By 2030, we will continue to increase the supply of natural gas and other clean energy, make sure that domestic natural gas production accounts for 55% of the company’s domestic primary energy, in order to effectively control the emission of greenhouse gases.”

A climate activist in Paris after environmentalists disrupted Total’s annual shareholder meeting in protest against its plan to the drill in the Amazon basin. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Total

“Total is fully aware of the challenges represented by climate change, has acknowledged the link between greenhouse gases and climate change publicly for several decades and has never engaged in ‘misinformation campaigns’. We would be grateful if you would therefore refrain from alleging that Total engaged in misinformation campaigns as this is an entirely unsubstantiated allegation. On the contrary, and for many years now, Total has integrated climate change concerns into the development of its strategy.

“Indeed, our challenge is to increase access to affordable energy to satisfy the needs of a growing population, while providing concrete solutions that will help limit the effects of climate change and supply an energy mix that progressively decreases in carbon intensity.

“As far as the Climate Accountability Institute’s study you refer to is concerned, a distinction must be made between emissions resulting directly from our activities and those which arise from the use of the products which we make available to our customers and which we do not control. The emissions resulting from our activities account for roughly a 10th of the total figures you indicate in your email, the remainder being related to the use of our products by our customers. You will find here our statement regarding our emissions in 2018.”

ConocoPhillips

“As we work to safely find and deliver energy to the world, addressing climate-related issues is a high priority. We recognise that human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, is contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere that can lead to adverse changes in global climate. While uncertainties remain, we continue to manage GHG emissions in our operations and to integrate climate-change-related activities and goals into our business planning. Details on our GHG metrics can be found here.

“Our company has voluntarily reduced our emissions by almost 7m tonnes per year since 2009. This is significant when put in context:

  • This reduction number does not include mandated reductions.

  • Our total operated emissions are about 20m tonnes per year.

“We have a long-term target to reduce our GHG emissions intensity from 5-15% by 2030, which is subject to periodic reviews and adjustment as we progress. We have had a longstanding climate change position and we continue to integrate climate-change-related activities and goals into our business planning. See our full climate policy history here.”

BHP

“BHP is a very strong and consistent advocate of the Paris agreement and more recently on the IPCC 1.5C position. BHP has never shied away from its responsibilities on CO2 and climate change, in fact, we have been one of the strongest – if not the strongest – advocate and proactive player in the sector in addressing our own operations as well as researching, funding and promoting technologies, practices and policies to mitigate environmental impacts from our activities.”

The company highlighted an announcement this year in which its chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie, said BHP was setting up a $400m climate investment programme to develop technologies to reduce emissions from its operations as well as those generated from the use of its resources.

“Over the next five years this programme will scale up low-carbon technologies critical to the decarbonisation of our operations. It will drive investment in nature-based solutions and encourage further collective action on scope three emissions … We must take a product-stewardship role for emissions across our value chain and commit to work with shippers, processors and users of our products to reduce scope three emissions.”

Petrobras

“Petrobras has been accompanying the climate science evolution and its developments on energetic, social and economic systems for over 15 years. The company monitors opportunities that the new regulations and technological innovations bring about in terms of new products and business models.

”In its operations, Petrobras seeks to apply technologies which have as a direct consequence the reduction of carbon intensity, with significant results already achieved: since 2008, 9.8m tonnes of CO2 have been reinjected from the pre-salt pits in the Bacia dos Santos.

“Until 2025, the company projects reinjecting 40m tons of CO2. Between 2009 and 2018, the emission of over 120m tons of CO2 has been averted, which equals two years of total emissions from the Petrobras.

“Currently, Petrobras has, among the major oil and natural gas producers, the second best performance in relative emissions (CO2/barrel) in exploration and production activities.

“The company has vowed to achieve zero growth in operational emissions up until 2025 (base year 2015), even with an increase in production, setting emission-intensity reduction goals of 32% in exploitation and production of oil and 16% in refining.

”Additionally, by 2023, Petrobras will invest US $350m in research and development in the areas of CCUS (carbon capture utilisation and storage), advanced biofuels, offshore wind and solar energy.”

Peabody Energy

Peabody recognises that climate change is occurring and that human activity, including the use of fossil fuels, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. We also recognise that coal is essential to affordable, reliable energy and will continue to play a significant role in the global energy mix for the foreseeable future. Peabody views technology as vital to advancing global climate change solutions, and the company supports advanced coal technologies to drive continuous improvement toward the ultimate goal of near-zero emissions from coal.