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20 Apr 2023

Why is 2030 an unrealistic target to achieve net-zero emissions?

Emma Scott Net Zero goal

In a recent article with Environment Analyst, Our VP of Sustainability, Emma Scott, shared her thoughts on implementing net-zero targets for 2030.

Why is 2030 an unrealistic target to achieve net-zero emissions?
As of March 2022, more than a hundred countries and the European Union had set targets to achieve net zero, either in law or in a policy document. Yet, despite these commitments, the UN projects current global temperatures will rise by at least 2.4-2.6°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible, then more robust Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the significant transformations of economies and societies. Finally, we need to catch up on years of procrastination. Without this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.
Implementing net-zero targets for 2030 is unrealistic and unachievable for most companies within the global energy sector. In reality, it is unlikely that companies will reach net
zero emissions much sooner than 2040, simply because the infrastructure and technology are yet to be developed and implemented to make this achievable.
For example, much of Kent's work is carried out in the Middle East, where a significant proportion of our scope 1 emissions come from fleet vehicles. In order for us to significantly reduce our emissions in this area, we are relying on the development of infrastructure and technology to ultimately allow us to adopt a fleet of electric vehicles to service our projects.
We know that it is highly unlikely by 2030, that the infrastructure and technology will be in place to facilitate our journey to net zero, and it’s important we are realistic and recognise the reality of the situation. Therefore, we will execute a phased approach with targeted actions in different regions, taking advantage of advancements in available provisions wherever possible. For instance, in the Middle East, we will look to move to smaller-sized engines in our vehicles that are more fuel efficient, then to hybrid engines, and eventually to fully electric vehicles when the infrastructure and technology are in place.
We believe that transparency and honesty is the key to achieving our goals instead of spending unnecessary money to improve our perceived reputation as a "green" company. Instead, that money can be spent on making real change. For example, we could claim to have achieved net zero tomorrow by buying a bulk load of offsets, but that wouldn't be credible and wouldn't change anything. We'd still be emitting greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and will not have helped in our collective goal agreed at Paris.
Organisations must change how they approach net zero and the wider remit of sustainability and embrace transparency and honesty. If all of the claims being made were true, the world would be in a much better place than what we see today. Instead of aiming for extra points in ESG / Sustainability Ratings and Disclosures we need to be encouraging the truth. The reality is that any organisation can hire a consultant who will maximise their score in key disclosures, such as CDP. Still, the reality is an over-inflated view of action being taken. We need to understand where organisations are on their journey to net zero and work together to achieve our goals rather than trying to outscore each other.
Due to the nature of our industry, we're always going to face intense scrutiny, and rightly so. The oil and gas industry has a legacy of being a "dirty" one, so we will always be criticised no matter what we say, which is why I think it's so important that we are open and transparent. There are a lot of bold claims that are made within the industry and, sadly, a lot of greenwashing too. So instead of making these unachievable commitments, we have analysed all the variables to conclude that 2040 is a more realistic target for Kent to achieve net-zero emissions.
At Kent, when it comes to making a positive impact for people and our planet, we’re doers, not talkers. We face difficult truths with confidence and optimism. We've developed a road map to help us achieve our first milestone target on our journey to net zero, which is aligned with science and the Paris agreement, which looks for emissions to be halved by 2030. While it aims for net zero to be achieved by 2050, it emphasises that there should be a push for this to be achieved in advance, wherever possible. At Kent, by aiming for net zero by 2040, we are giving the world some 'wiggle room' rather than waiting until the final deadline of 2050.
We are finalising our baseline scope 1 and 2 emissions, allowing us to develop targeted actions to generate the most significant emissions cut. So, while we have reviewed our targets and realigned them to a more realistic date of 2040, we will target areas where progress is achievable quicker.
We will maintain transparency around our emissions by ensuring our GHG emissions are verified annually and disclosed publicly, along with our progress towards our targets.

This article was originally published by Environment Analyst. Subscribe to Environment Analyst for free to have access to it: http://bit.ly/3VWjeXm

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