April 24, 2019 – All of the $4.9 trillion the oil and gas industry is forecast to spend on exploration and extraction from new fields over the next decade is incompatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal, according to new analysis by Global Witness.
The report, Overexposed, published today, is the first to compare the latest 1.5°C climate scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with industry forecasts for production and investment. It finds that any oil and gas production from fields not yet in production or development would exceed what climate scenarios indicate could be extracted and burned while still limiting warming to 1.5°C.
ExxonMobil is forecast to spend the most in new fields over the next decade, followed by Shell. Together with Chevron, Total and BP these five oil and gas majors are set to spend over $550 billion on exploring and extracting oil and gas that is not aligned with the world’s climate goals.
“There is an alarming gap between the plans of oil and gas majors and what the latest science shows is needed to avoid the most catastrophic and unpredictable climate breakdown” said Murray Worthy, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness and author of the report.
“Investors will rightly be concerned that despite industry rhetoric to the contrary, the oil and gas sector’s spending plans are so drastically incompatible with limiting climate change. This analysis should encourage the escalation of investor engagement efforts to challenge oil and gas majors to credibly align their business plans with the Paris Goals. Blindly pushing ahead comes with huge financial risks for investors, either as a result of the transition to a low carbon economy, or as the devastating consequences of a changing climate stack up.”
Global Witness’ report finds it is only possible to claim this investment is compatible with the Paris climate goals by using scenarios that assume massive carbon capture and removal will take place in the future. This is despite the fact that these technologies remain unproven at scale.
Today’s study finds that some climate scenarios rely on nearly as much CO2 being captured in the 21st Century as has been emitted since the Industrial Revolution. However, to date there are only two power stations in the world capturing CO2, after the commitment of $28 billion of public funds to boost development of the technology.
The report comes ahead of Shell and BP’s AGMs next month where they are expected to face tough questions from investors. BP recently conceded to investor pressure to disclose how its plans align with the Paris goals, and Shell has been pressured to introduce emission-reduction targets, including for the products it sells. Despite these commitments, today’s analysis shows that both companies forecast investments are far from aligned with achieving the Paris goals.
The industry is at a crucial turning point; capital investment has fallen by over a third since 2014, largely due to a slump in oil prices. Yet, investment is forecast to rise by over 85% over the next decade, reaching over $1 trillion a year. Two thirds of this is set to take place in new fields.
Major capex projects in new fields that are due to be approved over the next decade include US domestic shale expansion, the Vaca Muerta shale in Argentina, the Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan and the Yamal megaproject in Russia.