Oil and gas will continue to play an ongoing role in the global energy system for decades, BP’s Chief Executive Bernard Looney said Monday.
While the British multinational oil and gas company has committed to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner in an effort to tackle climate change, and is actively focusing on reducing emissions, the CEO said that the two major industries in the energy market will continue to play a role.
“It may not be popular to say that oil and gas is going to be in the energy system for decades to come but that is the reality,” Looney told CNBC at the ADIPEC energy industry forum in Abu Dhabi.
“What I want us to do is to focus on the objective—and I wish we had less ideological positions and more focus on the objective—which in this case is to drive emissions down.”
Looney noted that replacing coal with natural gas “has to be a good thing” as it will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions. “And then over time we will decarbonize that natural gas,” he said.
The CEO previously told Reuters in June that BP would continue producing hydrocarbons for decades to come and will benefit from rising oil prices, even as the company puts in place measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Looney’s most recent comments come after nearly 200 countries attending the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, agreed on a global climate deal on Nov. 13, to “phase down” unabated coal. Known as the “Glasgow Climate Pact,” the agreement came following last-minute changes pushed by China and India regarding watered-down language about the use of coal power.
Unabated coal power is the burning of coal without carbon capture and storage. An earlier draft of the agreement called to phase out all coal as an energy source.
The 197 nations also agreed on rules for international trading of carbon credits and to end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, as well as have countries with higher carbon emissions commit to submitting stronger targets to cut emissions by the end of 2022.
Climate change activists, including Australian climate change communications organization, the Climate Council, have called for coal to be cut entirely.
Looney told CNBC that BP has made great strides in focusing on renewable energy, explaining, “I don’t think anyone would look at BP objectively and say we are not leaning into the transition.”
“Over 12 months ago we had less than 10 gigawatts in renewables, today we have a pipeline of over 23 gigawatts. Twelve months ago we had nothing in offshore wind, today we are in the world’s largest and fastest growing markets in the U.S. and the UK with 3.7 gigawatts. We had very little in hydrogen, today we have a great partnership with Adnoc, with Masdar and BP that will develop hydrogen—blue and green—over time,” he said.
“So we are committed, we are all in on that,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden earlier this month released a new ambitious plan that will reduce the world’s global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, starting with oil and gas wells.
The new U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan will utilize “commonsense regulations, catalytic financial incentives, transparency and disclosure of actionable data, and public and private partnerships” to identify and reduce methane emissions in a cost-effective manner from all major sources, the White House said in a statement on Nov. 2.
The new plan aims to “protect public health, promote U.S. innovation in new technologies,” and help create jobs for tens of thousands of skilled workers across the United States.