Oil companies’ vows to reach net-zero by transitioning to renewables are long gone, writes David Olive, and profit maximization is back in.
Once upon a time, Big Oil pledged to reduce its fossil fuel production, slash its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and invest more in clean renewable energy and less in oil and gas. Big Oil, including Calgary’s Suncor Energy Inc., the largest Canadian oil firm, also committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
That was in the late 2010s, when slumping oil prices prompted Big Oil to invest in what it expected to be lucrative clean-energy alternatives like wind and solar power, biofuels, and batteries.
Companies also hoped the with its voluntary action in the fight against climate change it could avoid government regulations forcing it to reduce its carbon footprint.
But that time has passed. For Big Oil, playing a growing part in the energy transition is now out. Profit maximization from fossil fuels is back in. “Today, we win by creating value through our large integrated asset base underpinned by oilsands,” Rich Kruger, Suncor’s new CEO, told stock market analysts last week.