European majors leading transition to green power within global oil sector

The world’s largest oil companies spent only around 1% of their budgets on clean energy in 2018, but European firms have made greater investments in low carbon technology compared to their US and Asian counterparts.

A fresh study by environmental research organisation CDP found that Europe’s oil majors, including Shell, Total and BP, account for around 70% of the sector’s renewable energy capacity.

From these companies, Total spent the most on low carbon energies – around 4.3% of its budget in 2018. Meanwhile, Shell has made the biggest future commitment with plans to spend US$1-2 billion per year on clean energy.

Norwegian firm Equinor aims to spend 15-20% of its budget on renewables by 2030, after a recent rebrand from Statoil to reflect its intention to diversify its energy sources.

However, the world’s top 24 publicly listed companies spent just 1.3% of their total budgets on low carbon energy in 2018, with US and Asian oil firms generally slower to invest in renewables.

“With less domestic pressure to diversify, US companies have not embraced renewables in the same way as their European peers,” said CDP in the report.

But US-based ExxonMobil – a company that previously promoted climate change denial, joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) this year, in a sign that it may be considering the role it plays in global warming.