LONDON--Major oil companies have approved $50 billion of projects since last year that will not be economically viable if governments implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, think-tank Carbon Tracker said in a report published on Friday.
The analysis found that investment plans by Royal Dutch Shell, BP and ExxonMobil among other companies will not be compatible with the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"Every oil major is betting heavily against a 1.5 degree Celsius world and investing in projects that are contrary to the Paris goals," said report co-author Andrew Grant, a former natural resources analyst at Barclays.
Big oil and gas companies have welcomed the U.N.-backed Paris Agreement, in which governments agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or "well below" 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Scientists view 1.5 degrees Celsius as a tipping point where climate impacts such as sea-level rise, natural disasters, forced migration, failed harvests and deadly heatwaves will rapidly start to intensify if it is breached.
Carbon Tracker's analysis, co-authored by Mike Coffin, a former geologist at BP, found that 18 newly approved oil and gas projects worth $50 billion could be left "deep out of the money" in a lower carbon world. The projects include Shell's $13 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) Canada LNG project, a $4.3 billion oilfield expansion project in Azerbaijan owned by BP, Exxon, Chevron and Equinor, and a $1.3 billion deepwater project in Angola operated by BP, Exxon, Chevron, Total and Equinor.
The report also concluded that oil and gas companies risk "wasting" $2.2 trillion by 2030 on new projects if governments apply stricter curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Previous reports on the implications of climate change for oil and gas companies by Carbon Tracker and other researchers have contributed to a wave of investor pressure on majors to show that their investments are aligned with the Paris goals.
While some companies including Shell, BP, Total and Equinor have increased spending on renewable energy and introduced carbon reduction targets, the sector says it needs to continue investing in new projects to meet future demand for oil and gas as Asian economies expand. Shell said in a statement that it has set out an "ambition" to halve net carbon emissions by 2050 "in step with society as it moves towards meeting the aims of Paris."
"As the energy system evolves, so is our business, to provide the mix of products that our customers need," Shell said.