Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the world’s largest private and state-sector oil companies, led a pledge by 50 oil and gas producers at the COP28 climate summit to cut emissions from their own operations.
The deal is controversial given none of the companies are agreeing to reduce oil and gas production. But they are planning to stem releases of methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, to near zero by 2030 and stop routine flaring of natural gas.
The initiative was spearheaded by COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., who’s invested political capital bringing the oil and gas industry into the climate fight. “We must do all we can to decarbonize the energy system we have today,” he told delegates.
The pact was the centerpiece of a day that saw a deluge of other announcements, from countries vowing to boost renewable energy to a plan to tackle pollution by heavy industry. The U.S. pledged $3 billion in climate aid to poorer nations while the European Union said it would invest 2.3 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in the green transition overseas. The UAE is contributing $100 million to the methane-reduction effort.
While it was a show of force by a COP presidency keen to prove it can get things done despite questions about its climate-fighting credibility, it remains unclear how progress on all these promises will be tracked and how funding will be accessed.
The 50 members of the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter account for about 40% of global oil production. They include 29 national oil companies, marking progress in a sector that’s been slow to act on methane given a lack of pressure from regulators and investors. The targets won’t be binding, but signatories will have to submit a plan to meet them by 2025.
Among international oil companies, Shell Plc, BP Plc, TotalEnergies SE and Occidental Petroleum Corp. signed up. The most notable absences were Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips.
The list of national oil companies includes Brazil’s Petrobras, Nigeria’s NNPC and Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGaz. China’s largest oil and gas companies haven’t joined.
For 31 of the companies, it was their first time making a commitment to reach net-zero methane, Al Jaber said.
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