Course:EOSC311/2021/Net Zero Transformation of BP. Is it Greenwashing or The Future of Oil Industry?

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In my term project, I hope to explore the relationship between sustainability, and the oil industry with an in-depth analysis of BP’s ambitious plan to reach net-zero emission by 2050. In February 2020, BP has announced its net-zero plan. It is one of the most ambiguous sustainability plans in the oil and gas industry, and sparked controversies to this date. Notably, just last Wednesday shareholders at BP rejected a motion to make more drastic emission reductions, showing conflict of interests even within BP. This makes me wonder if their net-zero goal is even achievable. If yes, how? If not, why?

In the Oil Industry, there is this rising dilemma between profitability and sustainability. And the challenging question of how to transform into the future. As a business student who aspires to become a management consultant, this complex topic is extremely interesting to me. I hope to use this term project to better understand the oil industry and their transformation towards sustainability. And hopefully in a couple of years, become a business consultant for these businesses. I plan to use some of my learning in commerce such as business frameworks and EOSC 311 learning related to the oil and mining process to better understand and analyze what is BP doing. Then I piece my analysis together and provide some suggestions from a business student /consultant perspective.

BP Logo
BP Logo

British Petroleum (BP) Company Intro


British Petroleum (BP) is a British multinational oil and gas company founded in 1909, headquartered in London, England. It is one of the world's largest public oil and gas companies. Alongside Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total Energy, Chevron, etc.[1] BP is vertically integrated into almost all areas of the oil and gas industry. This includes exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, power generation, and trading. As of June 2021, BP has a total market capitalization of 95.5 Billion US dollars and is ranked as the 357th-largest public company in the world by Forbes 2020. From 1988 to 2015, BP was responsible for 1.53% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Most recently in February 2020, BP is the first Big Oil to declare its commitment to net-zero emission by 2050. [2]


Greenpeace activists are seen chained to oil drums after the environmental group blockaded the BP headquarters with solar panels and boards,

BP has operations in 78 countries worldwide. BP produced around 3.7 million barrels per day (590,000 m3/d) of oil equivalent. [1] BP also a has total proven oil reserves of 19.945 billion barrels (3.1710×109 m3). [1] In addition, BP has around 18,700 stations worldwide. [1] BP's largest division is located in the UK, followed by the US. In Russia, BP also owns a 19.75% stake in Rosneft, one of the world's largest oil and gas companies by hydrocarbon reserves and production. As of 2019, BP's greenhouse gas emissions from its operations worldwide are currently around 55m tones of CO2 equivalent (MteCO2e) a year. Furthermore, the carbon in the oil and gas that BP produces is equivalent to around an additional 360 MteCO2e emissions a year. Therefore, BP emits around 415 million tons of CO2 per year. [2] In 2020, BP emitted a total of 374 million tones of CO2 equivalent from its oil fields to its client's usage. [3] This is already a 10% drop from the previous year, but still a significant amount.

In recent years, there is significant raise in climate change protests and activism. Notably, demonstrators have blocked access to the BP headquarters and disrupted shareholders’ meetings. [2] Social movements create pressure on BP, and the ESG (Environmental Social Governance) concerned investors. Some Wall Street investors now even refer to the energy sector as "dirty money". [2] From 2018 to 2021, the S&P 500 Energy sector has lost 31% in value. [4] With the government picking up their regulations for the Oil and Gas industry, companies are forced to write down their assets, $17.5 billion in BP’s case [5] This highlights the importance of climate protests and the divestment campaign. Social pressure is forcing more investors and regulators to recognize the danger of fossil fuels. To maintain a sustainable cash flow and in transition to the future, BP also sold its petrochemicals business for $5 billion to INEOS in June 2020.[5]

Big players in the Oil Industry

Competitions and the Industry

The oil industry is broadly the same for more than a century, split into separate organizations – upstream, downstream, and other businesses. [6] However, is major change is underway in 2020. Looney’s (BP CEO) speech launched a chain reaction of one-upmanship among Europe and America's largest oil and gas companies. Within three months, Total and Shell announced their plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. They plan to build on previous pledges to increase spending on low-carbon energy sources like wind, solar, and biofuels.[5] Two of their American counterparts, ExxonMobil and Chevron, also announced their goals to reduce emissions although much more modest ones. [5]However, critics and activists think it's too little and too hollow. “There’s really nobody in this industry planning for a true transition away from fossil fuels,” said Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres. [5]

It is not difficult to see why some people are skeptical. BP also has a track record of greenwashing. To be fair, so do most of the Big Oils. For example, BP donated $500,000 to the inauguration of Donald Trump. And then BP pushed the White House to cut environmental regulations. [5] BP is also a member of the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful trade organization that has actively campaigned against climate actions and undermine climate science. [5] It is also reported that from 2016 through 2019, Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, and the petroleum institute spent more than $440 million on corporate promotion advertisements in the United States, to advertise against climate change policies. [5]

Nevertheless, BP has taken a significant step in the right direction. BP is the first among all of the Big Oil to commit to net-zero emission. They indeed motivated the entire industry to follow suit. It's great that BP made a huge impact. However, from a business perspective, this means BP is not differentiated from its competitors. Now everyone is at least claiming to move towards net-zero. In the Oil industry, where everyone is essentially selling the same product, BP is used to this high level of undifferentiated competition. Therefore, BP's future success will be contingent on their slight first-mover advantage, and how they can reach net-zero, without hurting their bottom line.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - Gulf of Mexico

Accidents and Violations

Unfortunately, BP does not have the best track records with the environment. BP experienced a major oil spill on Alaska’s north slope in 2006, an explosion at its Texas City refinery in 2005, and the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. [7] The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest marine oil spill in history. [8] About 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) of oil are leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven rig workers lost their lives. So did millions of marine mammals, sea turtles, birds, and fish. The world watched helplessly as oil gushed into one of the planet’s most biodiverse marine habitats for 87 long days.[7] BP paid 4.5 billion in fines, the largest in US history. In 2015, BP announced another $18.7 billion settlement for Clean Water Act penalties. [8] In total, the oil spill cost BP more than $65 billion of cleanup costs, charges, and penalties. [8] This event caused several environmental, health, and economical consequences. This accident servers as a daunting example of the potential harm of fossil fuels. And the urgent need for BP to transition into net-zero operation.

BP's Net Zero 2050 Plan


In February 2020, BP surprised the oil industry and all of its investors by publicly committing to a net-zero emission by 2050. [9] The plan is broken down into five aims for the company, and five for the world.

"Five aims to get BP to net zero [2]

1. Net zero across BP’s operations on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.

2. Net zero on carbon in BP’s oil and gas production on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.

3. 50% cut in the carbon intensity of products BP sells by 2050 or sooner.

4. Install methane measurement at all BP’s major oil and gas processing sites by 2023 and reduce methane intensity of operations by 50%.

5. Increase the proportion of investment into non-oil and gas businesses over time.

Five aims to help the world get to net zero [2]

6. More active advocacy for policies that support net zero, including carbon pricing.

7. Further incentivize BP’s workforce to deliver aims and mobilize them to advocate for net zero.

8. Set new expectations for relationships with trade associations.

9. Aim to be recognized as a leader for transparency of reporting, including supporting the recommendations of the TCFD.

10. Launch a new team to help countries, cities and large companies decarbonize."

The response is mixed. While some praise BP for its boldness, many others are skeptical. [10] [11] This is not the first time BP has committed to something similar. In 1997, seven months before governments adopted the Kyoto Protocol agreement to reduce GHG emissions. John Browne, BP’s CEO then, gave a speech at Stanford. In the speech, he promised to cut corporate emissions and to invest in renewable energy.[2]It is similar to what Bernard Looney has committed to in 2020. However, we know what happened in the last two decades. BP has not only never scaled back its corporate emission, but BP also caused the largest marine oil spill in history at the Gulf of Mexico. [8] In 2000, BP launched a marketing campaign that promised to move “beyond petroleum", a wordplay on its name British Petroleum. BP also reveals its new logo. The green hues and sunburst logo suggest environmental awareness and a green company. [2] Again, that did not materialize. In fact, that is how many Big Oils including BP earned their name for greenwashing. [2] In addition, the pledge excludes more than 40% of its oil production and 15% of the gas that comes from its stake in Rosneft, a Russian oil giant. It also excludes all the oil and gas that BP’s refineries and service stations buy from other producers before selling it to customers. [2] The statement is also extremely vague, without a concrete timeline or investment plan on how BP will reach its goal by 2050.

New organization Structure

The real big change arguable comes from BP's new organizational structure. “We need to reinvent BP. Our historic structure has served us well but, to keep up with rapidly evolving customer demands and society’s expectations, we need to become more integrated and more focused,” says Bernard Looney. [2] The current BP structure contains large autonomous business departments broken into upstream and downstream, then broken down into each geographical location. This structure will be completely changed. BP will be reorganized into a "more focused and more integrated entity", comprising 11 international teams. The heads of each team will then make up BP’s new global leadership team. [2] This is truly massive restructuring, requires sincere commitment and support from top management. It is great that Bernard shows this commitment. However, massive restructure requires masterful HR and change management, it would be interesting to watch if the HR frictions will hinder BP's short-term performance.[12] It is important to watch how many geologists, engineers, and environmentally minded activists are now sitting in the board room versus business personnel. The new structure now contains:[2]

  • Four business groups: They are aimed to deliver performance and value growth. Production and operations; customers and products; gas and low-carbon energy, and innovation and engineering.
  • Three integrators: They are tasked to identify and maximize opportunities. Sustainability and strategy; regions, cities and solutions, and trading and shipping.
  • Four core enablers: They support business delivery. Finance; legal; people and culture, and communications and advocacy.

Two particular departments are important to point out from an environmental perspective. First is Gas and low-carbon energy. It is designed to unite currently dispersed energy teams to create focused low-carbon solutions. It will also pursue opportunities in decarbonization and new value chains such as hydrogen and CCUS. [2] The other is Strategy and sustainability, This team is designed to ensure that sustainability is embedded at the top of BP and provide strategy and capital allocation. [2] It is great that both of these departments are created. This shows there is real change within BP, and some power is shifted towards the department focused on low-carbon solutions and sustainability. Their success significantly determines BP's success in the move towards net-zero meanwhile remaining profitable.

Financials and the Problem

This illustrates the high financial leverage of BP.

BP has committed to multiplying its investment in renewable energy ten-fold by 2030 to $5 billion per year. [13] This is substantial given BP's financial position. In 2017, 2018, 2019 BP has a net income of $3.39B,$ 9.38B, and $4.19B respectively. In retrospect, we know 2020 is a terrible year for BP. In 2020, given the abnormality of COVID, the significant drop in demand, and crashing oil prices, BP made a net loss of $20.3B. [14] Therefore promised $5 billion dollar investment into renewable is more BP's net income in some years, without even considering 2020. This means BP likely has to seek external financing through a) corporate debt, b)new stock issuance or c)government grants to finance this renewable investment. The new debt option is most common for companies, but not viable for BP. It would increase the financial leverage of BP, making it more risky and volatile as a business. This is because BP now has to maintain stellar cash flow to pay off the interest on the new debt. BP currently have a current ratio (current asset/ current liability) of 1.29.[14] Anything below 1 is within the danger zone, as it indicates there are more bills due than cash on hand. BP's current ratio of 1.29 is also significantly lower than the S&P 500's average current ratio of 1.85. [15] Furthermore, as shown in the image on the right, BP currently already has a significant amount of long-term debt, which is nearly triple their cash on hand. [16] Therefore with relatively poor liquidity reflected by low current ratio, and a significant amount of long-term debt, BP safely borrow a significant amount of new debt. The other two options left are new stock issuance and government grants. However, both come with constraints too. New stock issuance will dilute the value of shares held by all existing shareholders. Therefore, BP needs a really compelling story to explain to their investors either the environmental benefits (assuming investors care about it) or the long-term gain from renewable energy. Otherwise, a new stock issuance is highly likely to plummet the current stock price, and BP executives will face intense backlash from investors. Government grants also tend to have strings attached to them. Such as employing the local workforce, building the renewable within the specific government's jurisdiction, etc. [13] As a result, grants will limit the future profitability and flexibility of BP.

All things considered, none of the corporate debt, new stock issuance, or government grant are great options for BP. So the question arises, how can BP finance their renewable investment? BP has yet to provide a compelling answer. Hence, it is easy to see why their February 2020 net-zero plan is under intense scrutiny. It is also important to note that this commitment is front-loaded, with 80% of the increase to take place before 2025.[13] This is excellent for the environment but adds additional pressure to retain finances in the next few years. It is questionable if BP can pull it off. With such a high level of financial uncertainty, BP is providing little detail in their press release. Bernard Looney BP's CEO said, "We expect to invest more in low-carbon businesses – and less in oil and gas – over time. The goal is to invest wisely ... and deliver competitive returns". [17] This is particularly vague, as BP has yet to provide a concrete yearly or quarterly investment schedule. If "overtime" means "after 2030", then it is too little too late. [13] The careful word choice - "invest wisely" and "competitive return" shows the difficult balance between environment and profitability BP must maintain.

However, at the same time, BP promised no change to their fundamental commitments to investors. Looney claimed BP will "remains committed to its investor proposition of growing sustainable free cash flow and [dividend] distributions to shareholders over the long term....and to staying focused on costs and pursuing efficiencies." [17] This statement makes the environmental activities uneasy. BP is essentially assuring their investors that BP will produce the same cash flow and continue to pay them stellar dividends. This raises further doubts on BP's priorities, how committed is BP? Activities doubt how BP can balance A) significant Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) investment that they have yet to provide a concrete financing plan, B) paying a consistent dividend to shareholders, and C) achieving net-zero by 2050 at the same time. In summary, if BP were to quickly start selling off its fossil fuel assets and use the money to invest in renewables, this February 2020 net-zero plan is a huge step in the right direction. However, the real problem of financing constraints, and BP's commitment to pleasing their shareholders, make the 2050 net-zero goal more challenging.

Global Temperature Accelerated in the 20th Century

Climate Change

Earth's climate is always changing change over geological time. As we studied in the glacier module, Earth has been completed covered by glaciers twice in its history. [18] During the Snowball Earth times, the global mean temperature was as cold as -50 C. [18] Geologists have also discovered evidence of extreme warmth by looking at sea-floor sediments and their isotope composition. It is calculated that during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, Earth had a temperature close to +30 C. [18] These massive fluctuations in temperature within Earth's 4.6 billion-year history are all part of the natural cycle. Today is different. Today, Earth's mean temperature is about 15 C, which sounds surprisingly cozy and normal in the scale of Earth's geological history. However, we must be concerned about the rate of this change. And how human activities since the mid 20th century have significantly accelerated global warming.[18] Human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. The consequences are server

Climate Forcing and Feedback

There are two parts to climate change, climate forcing, and feedback. Climate forcing is when conditions change and give the climate a little nudge towards a certain direction. [19]An example would be the burning of fossil fuels. It results in an increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Feedback is when a whole series of environmental changes take place after a little bit of climate forcing. Feedback is an amplifier.[19] An example would be the greenhouse effect. Increase in greenhouse gas trap heat in Earth's atmosphere, lead to global warming. Then lead to the melting of glaciers and permafrost, that leads to sea level rising. This creates a domanial effect and starts the vicious cycle. Organic matter that contains CO2 and CH4 that was previously trapped under frozen soil is released into the atmosphere. [19]

Climate change has domanial effects and is a vicious cycle. Therefore, a seemingly minor action by humans such as a 1C increase in temperature can snowball into devastating results. And this makes limiting fossil fuel consumption ever so important.[19] On the other hand, snow and ice are some of the brightest surfaces, reflecting 70-90% of light. This is a significant difference. When glaciers melt, the albedo of the area changes dramatically, from 70-90% to 10%.[19] This means that the glacier/ permafrost area now reflects less heat, which means it absorbs more heat. In addition, rising sea levels would further cover a larger proportion of Earth in water (low albedo). This further reinforcing the feedback loop and global warming.

Climate change has domanial effects and is a vicious cycle. Therefore, a seemingly minor action by humans such as a 1C increase in temperature can snowball into devastating results. And this makes limiting fossil fuel consumption ever so important.

Green House Gas (GHG) Proportions in the atmosphere

Fossil Fuel and Greenhouse Gas

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is four main human contributed Greenhouse Gas in the atmosphere. As shown in the figure, CO2 accounts for 56%, CH4 (methane) 32%, CFC (halocarbon from older air-conditioner days) 6%, and N2O (nitrous oxide). [20]How much of that comes from fossil fuel?

CO2 emissions come mostly from coal and gas-powered units. Including vehicles (cars, trucks, planes), electricity generation, heating buildings, and many industrial operations. N2O is also derived from mostly the combustion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel escapes from the mining, production, and processing accounts for 9% out of the 32% of CH4. [20] Although climate change deniers love to blame the cows for farting too much as the cause of climate change, we can see that fossil fuel is the main driver. This responsibility is critical for BP and all Oil giants. It is important to note that even though the fossil fuel industry directly only produces 9% of greenhouse gas through mining, production, and processing. The products they offer accounts for another 62% of the pollution. Unfortunately, the current Net Zero plans of BP only account for emissions in their operation (9%), not the wider implications (62%). [5]

Increase in dollar value and number of events of natural disasters in the US.

Climate Change Implications

Relationship between Atlantic tropical storm cumulative annual intensity and Atlantic sea-surface temperatures.

There are many server implications of climate change. Since 1750, the global sea level has risen approximately 20 cm due to both warming (therefore expanding) seawater and melting glaciers.  It is predicted that the sea level will rise another 0.5m to 2.0m by the end of the century. [21]In a 2008 report, conducted by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) it is estimated that 150 million people and 35 trillion dollars of assets will be at risk of flooding by 2070. [22] The combined effect of sea-level rise increased storm intensity, and land subsidence puts many major coastal cities at risk. The problem is oceans don't respond immediately to climate change. Even if we stop climate change today, the sea level will rise between 1.3 m to 1.9 m in the future. [21] It takes decades for the warming of the atmosphere to be transmitted to depth within the ocean and melt glaciers. This is dangerously deceiving. It gives room to climate change deniers and oil companies to downplay the true impact of global warming. And provokes short-term thinking. As geologists think in million, and even billion years in time, the Oil Industry and BP also need to look at climate change with a long-term vision.

Today are already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change. In the first graph on the right, provided by US National Centers for Environmental Information. [23]We can see a clear correlation between the occurrence of major diesters in the US, the dollar value of impacts, and the temperature increase. [23] Let's take the hurricane as an example. We see the impacts all the time in the news from hurricanes in US Southeast to flooding in Indonesia. Even parts of Metro Vancouver, including Delta and Richmond BC, are at significant risk of floods. [24] But how do hurricanes work and relate to global warming? Warm air can hold more water than cold air. [21] Hurricanes gather their energy from evaporation from warm seawater in the Atlantic Ocean. In the second graph on the right, we can see a clear pattern. The blue line is the sea surface temperature, and the red line is the storm power. Not only, the storm power increased in severity from 1950 to 2010, but we can also see a clear correlation between intensity in hurricanes and global warming. [21] Now imagining what would happen in a couple of decades when the full impact of global warming is reflected in ocean level and temperature, For more information, check out this global flood map. [25]

In 2019 alone, the impact of climate change is daunting both financially and on human lives. Here is the summary compiled by British charity Christian Aid. [26]

  • January: Floods in Argentina and Uruguay forced 11,000 people to excavate. Australia received more rain since records began in 1888.
  • March: Storm Eberhard swept across Europe while Cyclone Idai caused devastation in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi.  Floods caused losses in American Midwest ($12.5bn) and Iran ($8.3bn).
  • May and June: $28 billion of damage in Asia. Cyclone Fani struck India and Bangladesh. China experienced the highest rainfall in 60 years. Monsoon in India led to floods that killed 1900 people.
  • September and October: Typhoons Faxai and Hagibis cause more than $20bn of damage in Japan. Hurricane Dorian racked along the Eastern seaboard from the Bahamas to Canada, killing 673 people.
  • October and November: Wildfires in California caused $25bn worth of damage.

Net Zero

How the world can reach net-zero with the help of both conventional mitigation technologies (wind, solar, hydro, etc.) and carbon removal technologies.

BP and other oil companies (Exxon, Chevron, Total, Shell) that soon followed announced to reach net-zero emission by 2050.[12] What does that mean? In June 2019, the UN Global Compact, the We Mean Business Coalition, and the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) collective issued a call to action for the business. They are asked to align their Greenhouse House Gas emission target with the less than 1.5C increase in average global temperature pledge in Paris Agreement. [27] [28] Or set a target to reach net zero by 2050. [27] Soon the term, "Net Zero" proliferated in media, politics, and board rooms. However, unlike terms such as carbon neutral, Net Zero does not have a universally agreed-upon definition.

In September 2019, SBTi published a discussion paper. [29] The paper suggests net zero to be defined as 'value chain of a company result in no net impact on the climate from greenhouse gas emissions ... in line with 1.5°C pathways'. [29] This part makes sense, with no net impact, but the next part sparks controversies. The paper also suggests 'balancing the impact of any remaining greenhouse gas emissions with an appropriate amount of carbon removals’.[29] Climate activities cry this leaves loopholes. Companies can continue selling large volumes of oil and gas for decades to come. . [30]Then use dodgy counting methods, unproven new technologies, and paying others to justify their negative emission. [12]

Negative Emission

There are legitimate reasons and methods to achieve negative emission though. Sectors such as electricity generation can find alternatives in nuclear, solar, hydro, wind, etc. [31]We can also replace petro or Diesel vehicles with electric or hydrogen powered ones.[31] We can build better insulated homes with hempcrete to reduce heating usage. [31] However, there is certain industry such as aviation and agriculture that we can't yet realistic make their operation carbon neutral.[31] So how can these industries reach net-zero? The answer lays in negative emissions.

Direct Air Capture machine by Climeworks in Iceland

The best-known approach to negative emission is quite simple. It is simply planting trees, with afforestation and reforestation. Tree absorb CO2 as they grow. [31]However, there is limited space on Earth and not all are environmentally suitable for plants. Companies will also run into financial and zoning problems. Other approaches include restoring peat bogs and restoring coastal ecosystems including shorelines and marine plants. [31] Therefore, in recent years there has been a lot of investment into new technologies related to carbon capture, usage, and storage. [31] It is estimated that these solutions combined can absorb about 28 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030. [32]

Potential technologies include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), in which 1) plant is burned to generated electricity 2) CO2 produced is captured and stored underground 3) More plants are grown absorbing CO2 and then burned.[33] There is also Direct Air Capture, which is a chemical process of extracting CO2 from the air. [31]There are also explorations in boosting the growth of phytoplankton, tiny ocean plants..[31] There are also explorations in boosting the growth of phytoplankton, tiny ocean plants. [31]Or enhancing weathering of rick, a process that naturally carries CO2 into the ocean [31] All of these new technologies are opportunities for BP to explore,. It might help them truly reach net-zero meanwhile still generating energy.

Example: Direct Air Capture

Let's take a closer look at one of these technologies to illustrate how realistic they are and how much BP needs to invest. [34] Direct Air Capture (DAC) focuses on directly pulling CO2 from the air and storing it underground. [34] This is a tough task. CO2 in our air is at a much lower concentration than those in a factor or compared to other gases. However, a breakthrough is close says Climework a Swiss industry leader in DAC.[34] Currently, there are only 15 plants in the world capable of removing a few thousand tones of CO2 per year. Climeworks thinks they can reduce the cost of extracting a ton of CO2 from $1,000 to $100 within a decade. [34] However, for reference, BP's CO2 emission is around 374 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2020, which is already a 10% drop from 2019. [17] If we use 1000 dollars per ton to calculate, it would cost BP $374 billion to offset their production. Even $100, would mean $37.4 billion. As we have previously discussed in the BP financials, BP has a $4.19 billion net income in 2019. Direct Air Capture will cost 10 times BP's entire annual income, even at $100 per ton after a decade of growth (through economy of scale) from Climeworks. Therefore, today it is too expensive and unfeasible.

Conclusion / Your Evaluation of the Connections

BP's commitment to net-zero emission by 2050 is controversial. It nonetheless has significant implications on the company, the oil industry, and the environment. On one hand, it's bold and influential. It’s important for BP. BP is falling out of favor from investors, under growing pressure from government regulators, and faces anger from environmental activists. It is important for the oil industry. BP is the first Big Oil company to publicly announce their net-zero commitment, which prompted the others to follow suit. And lastly, it is important for the environment. We understand that a small climate forcing through greenhouse gas can snowball into vicious feedback with a massive rise in sea level and glaciers melting. Fossil fuel production also directly accounts for 9% world’s GHG and indirectly 62% GHG. The climate change implication is massive. There is a strong correlation in the world’s natural diester occurrence from hurricanes to wildfires to increase in temperature. However, it is also extremely challenging. BP’s new organizational structure places more emphasis on the environment, but the massive shift likely will cause politics and frictions. BP’s financial position already has lots of debt and low liquidity. This makes financing their net-zero shift difficult. Lastly, many of the technologies for negative emission to offset BP’s operation are not yet financially feasible. For example, the Direct Air Capture will cost BP $37.4 Billion a year. That is ten times BP’s annual net income.

In conclusion, BP’s net-zero commitment is the first step in the right direction. It is important for BP, the oil industry, and the environment. Together, there are the internal challenges from BP’s organizational structural and financial position and external uncertainties about negative emission technology. This means there are lots of work to be done soon. Hopefully, in the near future, British Petroleum will truly become "beyond petroleum".


Earth from space, hurricane.jpg
This Earth Science resource was created by Course:EOSC311.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "BP 2020 Annual Report" (PDF). |first= missing |last= (help)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Watts, Jonathan (Wed 12 Feb 2020). "BP's statement on reaching net zero by 2050 – what it says and what it means". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. "BP reports 10% drop in overall emissions in 2020". MARCH 22, 2021. |first= missing |last= (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. "S&P 500 Energy Sector Index".
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Kusnetz, Nicholas (July 16, 2020). "What Does Net Zero Emissions Mean for Big Oil? Not What You'd Think".
  6. Coffin, Mike (14 February 2020). "BP's Net Zero Ambition: Deciphering the Code".
  7. 7.0 7.1 MEINERS, JOAN. "Ten years later, BP oil spill continues to harm wildlife—especially dolphins".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Pallardy, Richard. "Deepwater Horizon oil spill summary".
  9. Doyle, Amanda (7th August 2020). "BP reveals strategy to reach net zero". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. Frost, Rosie (06/08/2020). "What do green campaigners think of BP's plans to reach net zero?". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. Casey, JP (June 17th, 2020). "More questions than answers: BP's plan for net-zero emissions". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 McGrath, Matt (12 May 2020). "Climate change: Study pours cold water on oil company net zero claims".
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Blackmon, David (Aug 4, 2020,). "BP Commits Big Investments Towards Its 'Net Zero Emissions By 2050' Target". Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Yahoo Finance. "BP Financial Statement".
  15. "S&P Global Current Ratio 2006-2021". |first= missing |last= (help)
  16. "BP: May Follow Shell's Lead Next Quarter". |first= missing |last= (help)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "BP 2020 Sustainability Report" (PDF). |first= missing |last= (help)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Earle, Steven (23-Sep-2019). Physical Geology - 2nd Edition. BC Campus Open Publishing. pp. Chapter 19. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5|978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5]] Check |isbn= value: length (help). line feed character in |isbn= at position 18 (help); Check date values in: |year= (help)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Earle, Steven (23-Sep-2019). Physical Geology, 2nd edition. BCcampus Open Education. pp. Chapter 19.1. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5|978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5]] Check |isbn= value: length (help). line feed character in |isbn= at position 18 (help); Check date values in: |year= (help)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Earle, Steven (23-Sep-2019). Physical Geology, 2nd edition. BCcampus Open Education. pp. Chapter 19.2. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5|978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5]] Check |isbn= value: length (help). line feed character in |isbn= at position 18 (help); Check date values in: |year= (help)
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Earle, Steven (23-Sep-2019). Physical Geology, 2nd edition. BCcampus Open Education. pp. Chapter 19.3. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5|978-1-77420-027-8 978-1-77420-028-5]] Check |isbn= value: length (help). line feed character in |isbn= at position 18 (help); Check date values in: |year= (help)
  22. Corfee-Morlot, Jan (2008). "Climate change could triple population at risk from coastal flooding by 2070, finds OECD". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview". |first= missing |last= (help)
  24. Clarke, Kirsten (Aug 29, 2020). "New map reveals climate change risks in Richmond".
  25. "Global Flood Map".
  26. "Counting the cost 2019: a year of climate breakdown" (PDF). Christian Aid. 2019. |first= missing |last= (help)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Stephens, Andie (13 November 2019). "Net zero: an ambition in need of a definition".
  28. "The Paris Agreement". |first= missing |last= (help)
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Carrillo Pineda, Faria, Alberto, Pedro (September, 2019). "TOWARDS A SCIENCE-BASED APPROACH TO CLIMATE NEUTRALITY IN THE CORPORATE SECTOR". Science Based Targets initiative. line feed character in |title= at position 62 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  30. Frangoul, Anmar (WED, FEB 12 2020). "Oil giant BP says it wants to have net-zero emissions by 2050". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  31. 31.00 31.01 31.02 31.03 31.04 31.05 31.06 31.07 31.08 31.09 31.10 "Negative emissions: why, what, how?". |first= missing |last= (help)
  32. W. Griscom, Adams, W. Ellis, Bronson, Justin, Peter (October 31, 2017). "Natural climate solutions". National Academy of Sciences.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. HICKMAN, LEO (April 13. 2016). "Timeline: How BECCS became climate change's 'saviour' technology". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 "Direct Air Capture". |first= missing |last= (help)