As sustainability firmly takes the spotlight across the globe, storage operators are embarking on initiatives to future proof their businesses by ensuring they remain a relevant part of the new energy supply chain. Amy McLellan reports
Against a backdrop of weekly climate strikes, mass arrests of Extinction Rebellion protestors, another record-breaking season of temperatures and increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists, no organisation can afford to ignore sustainability. Whether it’s banning plastic, sourcing sustainable products or improving workers’ rights, there’s increased pressure on companies to do the right thing and minimise the impact almost eight billion people are having on the planet.
No industry comes under more pressure than the oil industry. In September the annual industry shindig, the Oil & Money conference, now its 40th year, lost the sponsorship of the New York Times as both organisations were targeted by protest group Extinction Rebellion, which called the event a gathering of ‘swindlers, polluters and planetary
destroyers of epic proportions’. Other industry events, including the recent Offshore Europe Expo in Aberdeen, have been hit by ‘die ins’ staged by the group.
And it’s not just environmental activists that have the industry in their sights. Even investment managers are increasingly cautious about holding oil stocks given that income and profits could well shrink should governments increasingly prioritise low-carbon energy to meet UN-backed Paris agreement emissions goals to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
As yet, however, ‘Big Oil’ is still backing, well, big oil, with investment remaining solid against a backdrop of geopolitical uncertainty. Carbon Tracker, a London-based not-for-profit think tank, highlights that the world’s largest listed oil and gas companies each spent at least 30% of their investment in 2018 on projects that are inconsistent with the IEA’s most ambitious low emissions pathway – heading for a 1.6˚C world. The report found projects already sanctioned by the oil and gas industry will take the world beyond a Paris-compliant 1.5˚C warming pathway and risk being stranded assets if governments around the world pursue policies that drastically shrink demand for carbon fuels.