Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Energy firms vowing to cut emissions ‘will produce billions of tonnes of CO2’

The 50 signatories to the deal agreed to stop flaring by 2030 (Matthew Brown/AP)
The 50 signatories to the deal agreed to stop flaring by 2030 (Matthew Brown/AP)

Oil and gas companies that signed up to an emissions reduction plan at Cop28 will collectively produce more than 150 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050, according to analysis by Global Witness.

That is around 454 times more than the UK emitted in 2022, with campaigners calling the Cop28 plan “marketing and spin”, as it does not include cutting emissions from the oil and gas they produce.

The climate conference in Dubai last month was the first time in its near 30-year history that countries agreed to move away from using fossil fuels.

Its president Sultan al-Jaber, who is also the CEO of the country’s national oil company, hailed a deal by 50 oil and gas companies to make their operations net zero by 2050 and cut flaring by 2030.

They did not make any agreement to slow production of oil and gas however, the emissions from which are known as scope 3, which Global Witness said represents about 90% of these companies’ total carbon footprints.

A mixture of national and international oil companies signed the pact, with ExxonMobil, Equinor, TotalEnergies, Eni and Shell set to produce enough oil and gas between now and 2050 that would equal 15 years’ worth of the European Union’s annual emissions, according to the analysis.

Global Witness said they calculated the emissions by using data from Rystad Energy, which projects what each company is likely to produce in the years ahead.

They took CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases and combined them in one metric to produce a carbon dioxide equivalent – a common practice in measuring the combined effects of the various greenhouse gases and not just CO2.

Sultan al-Jaber
Sultan al-Jaber celebrated the Cop28 agreement where countries said they need to move away from fossil fuels for the first time (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Patrick Galey, senior fossil fuels investigator at the NGO, said: “How can these CEOs keep insisting that their products play a role in solving a problem, the very root of which is those same products?

“How long will we keep letting them get away with such sleight of hand? We need a rapid and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, and fossil fuel bosses must be locked out of climate talks.

“Everything else is marketing and spin, pure and simple.”

Global Witness said it contacted each of the named companies about their analysis.

A spokesperson for Shell said the company is halfway to its target of reducing its operations’ emissions by 50% compared to 2016 levels.

They added: “On Scope 3 emissions, global energy demand will continue to grow and be met by different types of energy, including oil and gas, for some time to come.

“The pace of transition depends on action in many areas, including government policy, changing customer demand and investment in low-carbon energy.

“Our aim is to play our part in a balanced energy transition, where the world achieves net zero emissions without compromising on delivery of secure and affordable energy which has improved so many lives, and which people will continue to need today and for many years to come.”

Other campaigners said it is hypocritical of these companies to pledge to reduce emissions but continue to produce the fuel that is the main driver of climate change.

Jamie Peters, climate coordinator at Friends of the Earth, said: “This analysis, while jaw-dropping, only reinforces what we’ve long known – that fossil fuel companies will stop at nothing to extract every last drop of profit from the world’s remaining fossil reserves, no matter the cost.

Protestors
Campaigners have been pushing diplomats and politicians not to abandon the Paris Agreement ambition (Joshua A Bickel/AP)

“At a time when people all over the world are facing extortionate living costs – with the volatility of global gas and oil markets among the biggest factors driving up prices – and the mounting effects of climate breakdown, the companies fuelling both continue to cash in at our expense.

“That execs from these very same companies are getting prime access to influential climate talks is so absurd that it hardly registers as surprising. The injustice is breathtaking.”

A spokesperson for TotalEnergies said the company fully supports the charter it signed during Cop28, known as the Oil & Gas Decarbonisation Charter (OGDC).

They said: “The IEA (International Energy Agency) has assessed what the effect would be of the full implementation of the methane pledge of the OGDC and indicate that the 50 companies (who are) signatories to this charter ‘account for about 40% of global oil production and 35% of combined oil and gas production’.

“In addition, IEA analysis shows that the full delivery on these pledges – covering renewables, efficiency and methane/flaring – by the current signatories would result in global energy-related GHG in 2030 being around four GtCO2e (gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) lower than would be expected without them based on the Stated Policies Scenario in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2023.”