Dusseldorf For the freshly chosen BP-Chef Bernard Looney was the first public appearance in his new position a breeze. After months of demonstrations by angry activists outside the company’s headquarters in London, the oil company’s former downstream manager was allowed to say things that his predecessor Bob Dudley would never have said.
“We have to change. Starting today, our primary goal will be to provide the world with clean, reliable, and affordable energy, ”said Looney just two weeks ago when the new strategy was launched in London. And it has it all: the fossil energy giant wants to be completely climate neutral by 2050. This includes the CO2 emissions that ultimately result from the combustion in the consumer’s tank.
An oil company is becoming carbon neutral? With this in mind, the BP boss caused a sensation. But he is not alone with his plan. Large European companies are currently announcing ambitious climate targets almost every week. From 2030 or 2040, everyone has undertaken to emit less and secondly only as much CO2 as they can avoid elsewhere.
A few days ago, media company Bertelsmann announced that it would achieve this goal by 2030 Microsoft plans climate neutrality for the same year, as well as pharmaceutical and chemical companies Bavarian, Bosch even wants to work CO2-neutral this year. Markus Steilemann, CEO of the chemical company, observes across the entire industry Covestro, started a real competition for climate goals.
The announcements of the past few months have brought together a huge amount of promises. A current study by the renowned non-profit organization Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) available to Handelsblatt shows that, according to their new plans, European companies want to avoid 2.4 gigatons of emissions – more than the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Poland combined annually emit.
The British CDP is considered a leader in the analysis of corporate environmental data, with more than 600 institutional investors behind the organization. In the study, the experts, together with the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, took a closer look at the climate plans of over 882 listed companies in Europe.
The result: To achieve the goals, companies are already investing billions in new, low-carbon technologies and in investments to reduce emissions. The CDP puts the total across Europe at 124 billion euros, of which 44 billion euros are accounted for by German companies. That seems like a lot, but it is far from enough to achieve the EU’s goal of climate neutrality in Europe from 2050.
To do this, European companies would have to double their investments in CO2 reduction, the study says. Because that would push many to the limits of what is financially feasible, Steven Tebbe, Managing Director of CDP Europe, sees politicians and donors as a duty: “For industries where carbon dioxide reduction is a greater challenge, financial markets and policy makers need to do better Create conditions for low-carbon investments. “
Others doubt whether companies can achieve their goals. “On the one hand, we are happy about every step in the right direction. On the other hand, when you take a closer look, you unfortunately notice that many policies are mostly hot air or change too little and too late, ”says Heffa Schücking, director of the climate protection organization Urgewald.
In their view, there are often no concrete intermediate steps or reliable data. “What good is climate neutrality by 2040 if there is an immediate need for immediate action?” Asks Schücking. RWE wants to become climate neutral by 2040, but will not switch off the last lignite power plant until 2038. “We won’t stop climate change that way.”
After all, the announcement of BP marks a turning point. The company is the first in its industry to set itself the goal of achieving a zero carbon footprint within 30 years. For BP alone, this involves 415 million tons of CO2 per year. Competitor had Shell already announced last year that it would halve its CO2 emissions by 2050, but BP is now going one step further.
The big tech groups are also aiming for climate neutrality. However, they have it easy compared to oil or energy companies. Most of the CO2 is generated here by the energy consumption of the data centers. So coincide Google. Facebook. Apple and Co. increasingly with green electricity.
In four years, Amazon wants to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In 2030, the internet retailer wants to switch completely to green electricity and become climate neutral ten years later. While the Internet giants can buy their green conscience, it is much more difficult for industrial groups like BP.
BP, Shell or also Thyssen-Krupp do not suddenly stop producing carbon dioxide. Especially not if, like the oil companies, they continue to promote fossil fuels.
For this reason, there is fierce criticism from environmentalists about the publicly effective climate targets of fossil polluters.
“BP cannot spend $ 71 billion on developing new oil and gas fields this year and then claim to no longer emit CO2 by 2050,” said Niklas Schinerl, Greenpeace energy expert. Schinerl considers it more than unlikely that the energy group will achieve its goals. “So far it’s been a nice announcement, but unfortunately without substance.”