Norway's Equinor sets green goals but activists unimpressed

AFP - [email protected]
Norway's Equinor sets green goals but activists unimpressed
An Equinor employee speaks to a reporter on one of the company's Norwegian oil rigs. File photo: AFP

Norwegian oil giant Equinor unveiled Thursday objectives to reduce its climate impact but the plans disappointed environmental activists.


The state-controlled firm said it aims for overall carbon neutrality by 2030, reducing by half emissions that cause global warming by 2050, and a 10-fold increase in renewable energy capacity by 2026.

"Today we are setting new short-, mid- and long-term ambitions to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions and to shape our portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement," Equinor's chief executive Eldar Sætre said in a statement.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement nations agreed to pursue efforts to limit the increase in global temperatures to under 2.0 degrees Celsius in an attempt to avoid severe consequences from global warming.

"It is a good business strategy to ensure competitiveness and drive change towards a low carbon future, based on a strong commitment to value creation for our shareholders," Sætre added.

The targets go beyond ones the firm announced just one month ago which aimed to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its onshore and offshore drilling facilities by 2050.

"As part of the energy industry, we must be part of the solution to combat climate change and address decarbonisation more broadly in line with changes in society," said Sætre.

Not all the details are known, but Equinor would likely need to power its facilities from renewable electricity and turn to offsets to achieve overall carbon neutrality.

While Equinor is already involved in the massive Dogger Bank wind farm project off the coast of Britain, Thursday's announcement indicates a shift to a greater role in renewable wind power in the future.

"It's good that Equinor understands as well that it must contribute by reducing its emissions but the problem is that Equinor continues to search for more oil and gas," said Silje Lundberg of the Norwegian branch of the Friends of the Earth environmental group.

"These are two objectives that don't square up over the long term unless Equinor only considers the emissions from producing oil and gas and not those from burning" the fuel which are much larger, she told AFP.

Equinor plans a 7.0 percent increase in oil and gas output this year and will spend around $1.4 billion on exploring for new oil and gas.

The firm, which announced annual results as well on Thursday, fell victim like most other energy groups to a drop in global oil and gas prices.

Net profit plunged to $1.8 billion last year from $7.5 billion in 2018, with the drop explained also by a dip in production and write downs in the value of assets.

Equinor's shares were down 2.3 percent in midday trading while the Oslo stock exchange's all-share index edged up 0.1 percent.

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