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Report: Big oil continues to resist, block fast transition to clean energy

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Eric Galatas

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(Colorado News Connection) Big oil is dropping the ball when it comes to meeting the companies' public pledges to help avert catastrophic climate change, according to a new analysis of the eight biggest U.S. and European producers.

U.S.-based corporations Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil each ranked "grossly insufficient" on all the report's criteria.

David Tong, global industry campaign manager for the advocacy group Oil Change International and the report's co-author, said just 5 percent of the sector's capital investments are in clean energy. Over 90 percent is going into fossil fuels.

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"None of them come anywhere close to aligning with what's needed to confront the climate crisis," Tong contended. "Instead of cutting production, they almost all aim to increase production this critical decade."

Several oil companies mentioned in the report said it misrepresented their climate plans. The oil and gas industry has argued finding new places to drill is necessary to meet demand during a transition to clean energy, especially in hard to electrify industries like concrete production and air travel.

Leading global scientists say fossil fuel pollution must peak before 2025, then fall by 43 percent by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 to prevent the worst impacts of a changing climate. Tong pointed out the science shows there is no pathway to meet the climate targets by expanding oil and gas production.

"If companies stopped approving new fields, what would be left in their existing producing fields would be enough to meet the world's energy demand," Tong argued.

Because oil and gas corporations are not likely to voluntarily transition their business model, Tong believes governments will need to intervene. The marketplace could also play a role. Tong pointed to new global data showing, for the first time, $2 are being invested in clean energy for every $1 invested in fossil fuels.

"The transition is underway," Tong emphasized. "Governments need to resist the pressure from the industry that has done the most to cause the climate crisis, and accelerate the change. It's happening, it's just not happening fast enough."