It is very easy to say, and even easier to believe, that the adoption of a Net Zero carbon policy is at odds with support for fossil fuels like oil and gas. This is, after all, the general tone of reporting on future fuel sustainability, and in truth, there is hardly a shortage of advocates – on both sides of the argument – making that point very loudly. It’s not a particularly helpful message for anyone, either, because the continued demand for oil means that Net Zero isn’t going to be reached without assistance from the industry. Hostility towards the green lobby, on the other hand, is not going to do a huge amount to boost oil’s reputation.
Pushing into the future, then, means that oil companies will need to embrace the fact that emissions have to come down, and they have to change their understanding of what it is to do business. And one of the ways that they can do this is to present – without lecturing or hectoring – the points that make oil a necessary part of the path to Net Zero. As a full transition grows closer, it will be beneficial to recognize the part oil can play rather than continue to push back against renewable advocates.
Lower-carbon Oil and Gas are a Necessary Bridge
Simply stopping the extraction of gas and oil today would not create a world that ran on renewables, and would only delay a time when that could even be a possibility. Naturally, people will want to use less oil and gas based on everything that has been said over recent years – but in many cases, people have little knowledge of the existence of lower-carbon oil and gas. Through working with experts on business Net Zero at Consultus, companies can underline the part oil can play in a smooth transition to more renewable forms of energy.
Oil Companies Need to be Aggressive in Offsetting
People have little difficulty understanding the Zero part of “Net Zero”, but the “net” can sometimes provide a stumbling block. One day, maybe, zero emissions will be possible. At the moment, it is all about finding ways to mitigate emissions. Oil companies need to be at the forefront of that ambition, delivering aggressive offsetting plans that make up for as much emitted carbon as possible, and seeking to not just hit the targets in those plans but over-deliver. Saying that you’re going to mitigate emissions is greenwashing, but actually doing it and being happy to do it is green.
Not only do the bigger companies make more money from extraction and refinement of oil and gas, but they also benefit more from the publicity that comes with taking a greener approach. By volume they are also, by definition, enabling some of the higher emissions out there. So we need to see leadership from them in developing and open-sourcing methods to minimize the environmental impact of what they do – they can afford it in a way that is not so accessible to smaller companies.