BP’s solution to the climate crisis: switch to gas

17 May 2017 anna

Gas will solve the climate crisis. This was the main message that BP’s CEO Bob Dudley wanted to get across at today’s annual general shareholder meeting. And it’s dangerous…

Coal is the heaviest polluter of the fossil fuels, gas the lightest, and on Carbon Brief’s data, coal is the biggest difference between where we are going now and the path to 2 degrees’ warming. If we replaced all the coal being burnt for electricity with gas, sounds like we’d make a massive saving. So why wouldn’t we want to swap coal power plants for gas ones ASAP?

The thing is. If gas were really a transition fuel, BP wouldn’t be promoting it. That is, when BP talks of replacing demand for coal with demand for gas, this does not mean just using gas for enough time to transition to renewable energy sources.

What it has in mind is projects like the Euro-Caspian Mega Pipeline that would secure gas extraction not for the next five, ten, twenty years – but 40 or 50. This pipeline alone would secure pumping 2 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, and lock us into using fossil fuels for 40 to 50 years. Now that doesn’t fit into any 2-degree scenario carbon budget.

BP’s CEO Bob Dudley speaking at the AGM today.

Moreover, recent data shows that greenhouse gas emissions of gas extraction are vastly underestimated. The main component of gas is methane – a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 – and its leakage into the atmosphere while pumping gas out of the ground is hard to measure and harder to stop.

And we’re not just talking about one pipeline. From massive gas fields in the Caspian Sea to the huge Vaca Muerta deposit in Argentina, BP is pushing for opening new gas deposits and constructing new infrastructure.

To make these plays pay off, BP needs decades and decades more of burning more and more gas, instead of a rapid shift to renewables. And that’s why we can’t let Bob Dudley get away with his soundbite.



PS. Here’s my personal favourite moment of the AGM. You may remember Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full Of Women’? Well, BP has claimed it has pipelines. Pipelines full of women.





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