Speaking at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas BP CEO Bob Dudley called on oil and gas companies to work with backers of the Green New Deal.
“Our focus has to be on developing an energy system that is cleaner, better and kinder to the planet,” said Dudley. “But we can only fully play our part if we have the trust of society and the confidence of our shareholders. That means engaging more with the young people who will take to the streets on Friday.”
Dudley referred to the School Strike 4 Climate, where Zoomers from around the world will walk out of schools to protest climate change and call on adults to take real action, including passing the Green New Deal in the United States.
While BP and other European oil and gas companies have increased their pace of spending in renewable energy, the global fossil fuel industry spent only 1 percent on renewable energy in 2018. A major reason for the lacking interest particularly of American gas and oil companies is risk versus reward — specifically that renewable represent smaller risk and potential reward than oil has historically presented.
“That’s the key pushback we get when we speak to companies like ExxonMobil, Total or any of the oil and gas majors,” said solar power analyst Tom Heggarty. “Although they understand from a risk perspective the projects are a much lower risk than they would be used to in the oil and gas space, the returns are typically quite lower as well.”
At the same time, President Trump is continuing to argue that climate change, the central reason behind the push for renewable energy, isn’t real. In a Tuesday tweet Trump called climate change “Fake Science”. The tweet flies in the face of Trump’s own government and makes easily disproven associations. But it shows the administration’s priorities: more fossil fuels.
But Dudley and BP continue to invest in other options. BP produces 200 million gallons of low-carbon ethanol annually and is working to develop genetically engineered microbes that would be even more efficient than existing ethanol. And, of course, BP is calling on its competitors to back the Green New Deal.
“Our focus has to be on developing an energy system that is cleaner, better and kinder to the planet,” Dudley said. “It means improving the dialogue we have with policymakers around the world, including those behind the Green New Deal.”
It is worth mentioning that BP was responsible in no small part for one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Its efforts to rebrand following that disaster produced, to put it charitably, mixed results. But overall, its more environmentally friendly image has helped put Deepwater Horizon in the company’s past.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.