After years of negotiations, a historic agreement to stem global warming was approved by 195 nations at the Earth Summit in Paris five years ago. The treaty involved the countries responsible for 97% of global emissions and represented an unprecedented collective effort to try to contain the rise in the planet's temperature to a maximum of 1.5 ºC above the levels registered in the 1990s. It also involved companies, local governments and financial institutions from all over the world and was a sign of hope with regard to the climatic emergency caused by human activity.
If the goals defined in the 2015 agreement were to be met, the world would stop using fossil fuels to meet its energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions would be offset by capturing and storing them and through absorption by forests and other green areas around the planet.
Although not everything is going as planned, due to the fact that, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and citing just one example, greenhouse gas emissions rose by 10% between 2015 and 2019, progress has been made.
Many countries have gone ahead with long-term goals to reduce emissions in the past two years. The United Kingdom, the EU member states, Norway, Chile and a number of developing nations have led the way in implementing measures to achieve net zero targets. On 03 December, the United Kingdom announced new targets for its emissions, before hosting the next Climate Summit, at which all the signatories to the Paris Agreement will be required to publicise their contributions. The country is committed to reducing its emissions to at least 68% of the levels registered in 1990 by 2030, which would align its own goals with the 2050 zero net emissions goals. Before that, the President of China had announced that his country would achieve these goals by 2060, just as Japan and South Korea had already done, but by 2050. US president-elect Joe Biden also pledged to adopt a zero net emissions target for the same date, meaning more than two thirds of the global economy have promised to achieve zero net carbon by the middle of the century. If everyone manages it, the world would be well on track to meeting the upper limit of the Paris Agreement.
The Climate Action Tracker website has calculated that the temperature increase would be 2.1 ºC if all the countries involved were to keep their promises. This would place our planet at an “amazingly short distance” from fulfilling the 2015 Paris Agreement commitment.
COMPANIES ADHERE TO ENERGY TRANSITION
The Paris Agreement was without doubt a historic turning point in the race against time to avert an environmental catastrophe. Five years on, the date will be an even more noteworthy celebration if nations renew their commitment and align their post-Covid-19 economic recovery plans with the climate goals essential to the sustainability of the planet. The fifth anniversary of the year of the official Agreement has served as a pretext for eight leading entities in the energy sector to develop joint principles as a cooperation platform for energy transition within the framework of the Climate Action 100+ initiative.
The principles agreed upon by BP, Eni, Equinor, Galp, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell and Total are designed to promote the industry's contribution to the Paris Agreement goals with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the role of carbon sinks and the importance of organisations in the sector being transparent and adhering to climate change.
GOALS OF THE ENERGY TRANSITION PRINCIPLES
The principles adopted by BP, Eni, Equinor, Galp, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell and Total are aimed at:
1. Publicly promoting the goals of the Paris Agreement, involving international cooperation as a vehicle to ensure they can be met at the lowest possible global cost to the economy.
2. Decarbonising industry in line with each company´s strategy, ambitions and individual goals, which will work on reducing emissions from their own operations and strive to reduce emissions arising from the energy they consume, together with their clients and society. Companies can measure their contributions using carbon intensity and/or absolute metrics at different points in the value chain, in accordance with the approach used.
3. Collaborating with the entire energy system, including users, investors and governments, to develop and promote approaches to reduce emissions from the use of energy, in support of countries that submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
4. Supporting and promoting the development of carbon sink technologies for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and natural sinks.
5. Acting with transparency, disclosing the risks and opportunities related to climate change and that are consistent with the goals set forth in the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
6. Reporting the affiliations in the main industry and trade associations and their alignment with the position of companies with regard to the principal political and climate-related issues.