“Stop Me Before I Kill the Planet”: Another Major Oil Producer calls for Carbon Pricing

February 18, 2015


In another astonishing announcement, a second major Oil producer has called for a global carbon  pricing mechanism.
BP follows last week’s speech from Ben Van Beurden, CEO of Shell, which called for policies to curb climate change, including a price on carbon.


BP has warned that carbon dioxide emission levels from burning fossil fuels are unsustainable unless the international community unilaterally introduces tougher binding regulations on atmospheric pollution.

The stark warning from the UK’s second-largest oil company came with the publication on Tuesday of its closely-watched long-term outlook for global energy markets, which predicts that CO2 emissions will increase by 1pc per year, or 25pc in total, through to 2035.

This rise in pollution would be worse than the current rate, which scientists have said would have a negative effect on climate change. The United Nations is seeking to limit the increase of the average global surface temperature to no more than 2C, compared with pre-industrial levels, to avoid “dangerous” climate change, and will hold a major conference in Paris in December to agree on a firm system for restricting emissions.

Bob Dudley, BP chief executive, said: “The most likely path for carbon emissions, despite current government policies and intentions, does not appear sustainable. The projections highlight the scale of the challenge facing policy makers at this year’s UN-led discussions in Paris. No single change or policy is likely to be sufficient on its own.”

Oil companies such as BP and Shell are coming under increasing pressure from shareholders and governments to clearly define their policies surrounding climate change. The so-called “carbon bubble” theory argues that shares in the oil industry could plummet due to the need to limit global warming.

“Identifying in advance which changes are likely to be most effective is fraught with difficulty. This underpins the importance of policy-makers taking steps that lead to a global price for carbon, which provides the right incentives for everyone to play their part,” said Mr Dudley.


BP said the continued increase in emissions would come in spite of less reliance on coal over the coming decades. China has been heavily dependent on coal during its rapid industrialisation since 1990, but demand is expected to grow at 0.8% a year in the period up until 2035, down from 3.8% a year since 2000.

BP believes the recent fall in oil prices will prove temporary, putting the decline from $115 a barrel to a low of $45 a barrel down to increases in supply caused by the US shale revolution. Recent weeks have seen a partial recovery in the oil price, with the cost of a barrel of Brent crude standing at around $62 a barrel last night.

The oil company said growth in supply from the new US fields would slow but that global demand would continue to increase, leading to higher prices.

We are at a moment of historical change – I don’t think it’s too much to compare this to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall in 1989.  A gigantic, monolithic industry that has for decades presented a united front against action on climate is now realizing the stakes are so high, the science so overwhelming,  the politics so clearly lining up against them, and possibly most important, the growing impact of the Divestment movement as investors wake up to their exposure to a “carbon bubble” – that they are lining up and calling for action.

Last week word leaked of Apple’s new initiative to build an electric vehicle, in part because they see an opportunity in that space, but also in part because of this ongoing awakening of major corporations to the threat posed by climate change, their role in it, and their responsibility to the planet and the future.  Apple’s Chairman Tim Cook underlined the position at a Goldman Sachs technology conference:


The agreement positions the CEO of the world’s biggest company at the center of the global debate about climate change and the future of energy—a role Cook has increasingly embraced over the past two years. The company has been ramping up its investment in solar, with two 20 Mw plants completed and a third under development in North Carolina, and a 20 Mw plant in development in Reno, Nev. All of Apple’s data centers are now powered by renewables.

“We know that climate change is real,” Cook said on Tuesday. “Our view is that the time for talk has passed, and the time for action is now. We’ve shown that with what we’ve done.”





23 Responses to ““Stop Me Before I Kill the Planet”: Another Major Oil Producer calls for Carbon Pricing”

  1. […] neutral carbon tax from October 2009.(he’s for it, along with most of the other leading oil major execs) Good ideas eventually get […]

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