It’s that time of year again when the oil industry has to face its shareholders and investors in public: AGM season.
Over the coming days, Big Oil executives will have to respond to questions about how they are reconciling the plans for expanding fossil fuel growth with their public commitments on climate change.
Kicking off the AGM season yesterday were the Italian energy company Eni, which is seventy years old this year, and the Norwegian company, Equinor.
To coincide with the meetings, Oil Change International published two briefing papers, Big Oil Reality Check: Eni and Big Oil Reality Check: Equinor revealing that the companies continue to fuel oil and gas expansion. This is despite their repeated greenwashing claims saying that they are committed to climate action.
Today: @Eni & @Equinor hold their Big Oil shareholder meetings. #DYK: They are respectively on track to rank as the world’s 3rd and 8th worst upstream oil and gas expanders in 2023 — prioritizing oil & gas investments that fuel the climate crisis: https://t.co/jCKA93XWe7 pic.twitter.com/ZXNFGHL3Rr
— Oil Change International (@PriceofOil) May 10, 2023
But it gets worse. The Oil Change International analysis also reveals that both companies are on the cusp of approving a surge of new oil and gas development, despite the fact that scientists and industry experts say we cannot keep expanding drilling if we want a liveable future. The science is crystal clear: Existing oil and gas fields and coal mines globally already contain more fossil fuels than the world can extract and burn under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
But both companies are ignoring the warnings of the scientists. Both Eni and Equinor plan to increase their oil and gas production in the near term. Equinor plans to increase extraction by 3 per cent this year and likewise, Eni plans to increase extraction by 3 to 4 per cent per year.
If both companies proceed with all their proposed projects, Eni is on track to rank as the world’s third-worst oil and gas expander this year and Equinor as the world’s eighth-worst by the total volume of new reserves approved for extraction.
Releasing the briefings, David Tong, Oil Change International Global Industry Campaign Manager, said: “Both Equinor and Eni continue to put forward new exploration and production projects for approval, despite the IPCC’s findings that immediate and rapid action to phase out fossil fuels is necessary to hold global warming to 1.5ºC. Eni, for instance, has plans to expand oil and gas production in several countries, including Libya and Nigeria.”
Tong added: “The case for keeping oil, fossil gas, and coal in the ground and transitioning to clean, renewable energy is clear. Companies like Equinor and Eni must recognize the urgency of the climate crisis and commit to a just transition away from oil and gas production.”
Karoline Andaur, CEO at WWF-Norway added: “Even though Equinor spends huge sums of money on marketing itself as a green company, the report from OCI shows that it is in fact not planning to transform itself into a renewable company at the speed necessary to avoid climate disaster. On the contrary, Equinor plans to increase oil production towards 2026 and then maintain the current level of production until 2030.”
Yesterday it was also announced that Eni is being sued by citizens from affected regions, as well as Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon for “past and potential future damages resulting from its contribution to climate change, of which ENI was well aware but chose to ignore for decades.”
The lawsuit, which is the first climate lawsuit in the country which is being labelled #LaGiustaCausa or #TheJustCause, also includes Eni’s two main shareholders, one of which is the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The lawsuit is due to be filed in the civil court of Rome this month, with full hearings expected in November this year.
The plaintiffs are also demanding that Eni revise its industrial strategy to reduce emissions by at least 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels, as indicated by the international scientific community to keep the average global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
One of the plaintiffs, Rachele Caravaglios, who lives in the affected region of Piedmont, said: “I don’t think it’s fair that Italy’s main energy supplier, of which the state is the largest shareholder, can continue year after year, an investment program that goes against what the best available climate science recommends, limiting our options to create a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all.”
Ben Franta, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, told the Guardian newspaper that “oil majors” such as Eni “understood the catastrophic effects their products would have on the world, yet failed to warn the public, concealed their knowledge, denied the problem, and obstructed efforts to solve it”.
Franta added “Like other fossil fuel companies, Eni might ultimately be held accountable in court for this pattern of deception and harm.”
The AGMs and lawsuit are being held against a backdrop of already alarming temperatures around the world, reinforcing the urgent need for climate action. But Big Oil isn’t listening.
Onslaught of heat record in Southeast Asia. There are far too many to count.
National heat records are tumbling…[THREAD on some of the extreme temperatures on Planet Earth lately] pic.twitter.com/KM7dDsdTum
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) May 9, 2023
And continuing extreme weather events, such as 400 people being killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo floods and landslides.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 8, 2023
And wildfires already raging in Canada:
As of late afternoon Friday, there were 91 active wildfires across the province, including 30 listed as out of control, that have prompted more than 13,000 Albertans to be evacuated from their homes. https://t.co/4doggT4A8K #ABFire #ABWildfire
— Edmonton Journal (@edmontonjournal) May 5, 2023