Big Oil claims it's doing its part to combat climate change. A new study finds it's not even close.

  • Big oil spent only 1.3% of 2018 capital expenditure on green energy
  • European majors are making greater efforts than the US oil giants to invest in clean energy
  • Low carbon infrastructure seen as essential to combatting climate change

Despite years of claims and commitments about clean investment and alleviating climate change, the world’s largest oil companies have contributed just 1% of their spending budgets to green energy in 2018.

Companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and BP, have all accelerated efforts into renewables and battery technology in recent years. But many efforts have been overshadowed by the oil industry’s efforts to block or overturn environmental regulations.

CDP, an environmental research charity that works with over 650 major institutional investors with $US87 trillion in assets, claim that the world’s top 24 publicly-listed companies spent just 1.3 per cent of total budgets of $US260 billion on low carbon energy in 2018.

“This 1% figure pales in comparison with the amount of money Big Oil spends blocking climate initiatives and regulations, and invests in fossil-fuel projects that have no place in a well-below 2 degree Celsius world,” Jeanne Martin at campaign group ShareAction, told Reuters.

CDP’s research suggests that European oil majors have made greater strides than their US counterparts, and that 70% of the energy sector’s renewables capacity came from European oil majors.

“With less domestic pressure to diversify, US companies have not embraced renewables in the same way as their European peers,” CDP said in a report.

Norway’s Equinor leads the way with plans to spend up to 20% of its budget on renewables by 2030, while European major Total has spent the most on low-carbon energies, around 4.3% of its budget, since 2010, according to the study. Shell plans to invest up to $US2 billion each year in renewables and electric vehicles alongside a pledge in 2017 to halve the carbon footprint of the energy it sells by 2050.

These efforts pale in comparison to the required need for drastic climate control measures.

An explosive report last month from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The report said: “Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.”

Russian and US firms are investing the least, the study said, while China’s energy powerhouse PetroChina doesn’t even report emissions.

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