The latest emissions trajectory released by state colossal fossil Saudi Aramco—the world’s largest oil producer—shows a boost in production and no drop in emissions before 2035, casting doubt on the company’s words about net-zero commitments.
“It’s hard to see how any company that supports the Paris agreement does not need to substantially cut absolute emissions by 2035,” said Mike Coffin, head of oil, gas and mining at Carbon Tracker.
Aramco has previously indicated support for keeping global warming below 2°C by backing the Paris agreement and helping to launch the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. But sticking to a 2°C pathway requires oil majors like Saudi Aramco to sharply cut emissions quickly to achieve their targets by 2050, reports Bloomberg Green.
Instead, Aramco intends to continue increasing production and plans to curtail emissions through measures like carbon capture and storage. The company aims to increase its carbon storage capacity to 11 million tons by 2035 from its current 800,000 ton capacity.
Although increasing production while keeping 2035 absolute emissions roughly in line with those reported in 2021 means that emissions per barrel will be lower, the failure to reduce actual emissions could derail progress towards meeting the Paris climate goals, Bloomberg says. Other big fossils plan to cut emissions much sooner—for example, BP aims to reduce total emissions by 20% by the end of the decade and expects that overall oil demand will drop by 25% by 2035.
(And BP’s plan is still far off a Paris trajectory.)
“Many scenarios show that demand for energy and petrochemicals will increase, as the global economy grows and living standards in developing countries improve,” Aramco said in response to questions from Bloomberg. “We have a critical role to play in meeting that rising demand by providing secure, reliable, and affordable energy—particularly as a low-cost producer with one of the lowest upstream carbon intensities in the industry.”
Saudi Aramco has only been tracking emissions since 2019 when it listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange, and it leaves out vast amounts of emissions from its reporting by not disclosing Scope 3 emissions—the lion’s share of the carbon pollution in a barrel of oil that occurs when the product reaches its end user.
“Our focus is on the measurement, reporting and management, of those emissions within our control,” Aramco said in response to questions. “But we recognize that we have an important role to play in working with our suppliers and customers to reduce emissions along the entire value chain of our products.”
According to a Bloomberg Opinion estimate, however, Aramco’s Scope 3 emissions could amount to more than 3% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting the outsized impacts the company’s emissions policies will have on international efforts to tackle climate change.
“Companies profiting from assets ought to take responsibility for their share of emissions from those assets,” said Carbon Tracker’s Mike Coffin.