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Could current global events derail the energy transition?

18/5/2022

6 min read

Close up of platform gas flare Photo: Shutterstock
In 2021, gas flaring activity in the global upstream sector sunk to its lowest level in 10 years

Photo: Shutterstock

How are oil and gas companies shaping up to play their parts in the global energy transition – and how much has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affected these plans? Nnamdi Anyadike reports.

Concerns have been raised recently that surging oil, gas and power prices, together with the European Union (EU)’s goal of becoming less dependent on Russian supplies in the wake of the war in Ukraine, could derail the global energy transition. Just as troubling for the environmental lobby is that some oil and gas companies which claim to be acting in an environmentally responsible manner are instead said to be engaging in little more than what can loosely be described as ‘greenwashing’.

 

Although there is no clear consensus on the meaning of the term, it is generally recognised to refer to branding or claims that project an image of sustainability, minus the efforts stated or implied by those claims. The continued growth of sustainable investment under the banner of environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments has arguably made greenwashing an increasingly attractive strategy for energy companies to capitalise on the demand for sustainable companies and portfolios.

 

An old example was BP’s high profile rebrand to ‘Beyond Petroleum’ in 2000. This was followed by the implementation of solar panels at its filling stations and claims that the company would shift its focus towards low carbon products. However, this was eventually somewhat discredited in the public eye after environmental organisation ClientEarth exposed that BP had directed over 96% of its annual spend towards oil and gas in 2019. 

 

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