BP’s chief executive admits he understands why fossil fuels are not socially accepted and reiterated his pledge to make his firm a net zero carbon company by 2050.
Bernard Looney, 49, who took on the role at the oil and gas giant in February, said he knew that the industry is perceived as ‘bad’ and had ‘a challenge… with trust.’
Last year alone, BP was responsible for 415 million tons of carbon emissions, taking into consideration the emissions produced by customers burning its fuel.
But Looney reiterated his promise that BP would cut the amount of oil and gas it produces by 40 per cent by the end of the decade.
The company also plans to increase the amount it invests in low-carbon projects tenfold by 2030 to around five billion US dollars (£3.8 billion) a year.
His strategy to improve BP’s perception in the eyes of consumers gained praise from environmental group Greenpeace, which called it a ‘necessary and encouraging start’, adding that BP has ‘woken up to the immediate need to cut carbon emissions this decade’.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Looney said: ‘Oil is increasingly becoming socially challenged, there’s no question about that.
‘There’s a view that this is a bad industry, and I understand that.
‘I don’t agree, because if you meet our people, I don’t think you’ll say they’re bad people.
‘Good people don’t come to work for a bad company – good people have choices.’
Looney said he was clear from day one that he wanted his term in charge to be defined by the carbon transition.
His plan is to use the oil company’s hydrocarbons – oil and gas – to invest in the transition.
‘It’s simply not possible to transform a company that’s 110 years old by simply shutting off the taps in one area and pivoting 100 per cent into the new,’ he said.
His comments come in the wake of recent announcements that BP will cut 10,000 jobs from its global workforce due to a huge slump in oil demand, while share dividends have been halved.
Around 2,000 jobs in the UK are thought to be at risk.
Top leadership roles are set to be cut by a third after the oil giant was hit by the coronavirus outbreak, although Looney added the cuts were part of a plan to slash operating costs by $2.5bn dollars (£1.9 bn) for the new financial year.
‘It was always part of the plan to make BP a leaner, faster-moving and lower-carbon company,’ Looney said.
Last week, BP announced it was slashing its share dividends following on from a BP’s record £5.2 billion ($6.7 billion) quarterly loss, after a drop in the demand for oil.