climate crisis Mitchell Beer

Big Oil Would ‘Bust the Paris Agreement’ With Inadequate Decarbonization Plans

Big Oil keeps pushing humanity towards extinction. [Max and Dee Burnt / Flickr]

By Mitchell Beer | The Energy Mix

Three of the world’s biggest fossil companies—BP, Shell, and Equinor—are relying on decarbonization scenarios that fall short of the objectives of the Paris climate agreement, concludes a peer-reviewed study led by Berlin-based Climate Analytics.

“Most of the scenarios we evaluated would be classified as inconsistent with the Paris Agreement as they fail to limit warming to ‘well below 2°C’, let alone 1.5°C, and would exceed the 1.5°C warming limit by a significant margin,” co-lead author Robert Brecha said in a release this week.

“Fossil fuel companies claim that we can continue to burn oil and gas while keeping to the 1.5°C warming limit, and they cite their own scenarios as justification,” added Climate Analytics CEO and Senior Scientist Bill Hare. “But our research shows that their pathways would bust the Paris Agreement. Even temporarily exceeding 1.5°C warming would lead to catastrophic impacts and severely weaken our ability to adapt to climate change.”

The detailed technical paper in the journal Nature Communications assesses a total of six decarbonization scenarios published by the three fossils and the International Energy Agency. The research team looked at the average global warming that would result from each scenario, as well as the features of the future energy systems they envision, providing a consistent frame for governments and others to understand and compare the results of different decarbonization plans.

The authors warn that most of the pathways they analysed fail to achieve the long-term temperature goal (LTTG) in the 2015 Paris deal, “or do so with substantial interim overshoot,” primarily due to continued reliance on fossil fuels. That’s a problem, they add, since published pathways that fall short of the Paris goals “will likely provide a misleading view of the transformations needed for reducing GHG emissions, both in the near term and the long term.”

The researchers call for further discussion on the (supposed) bridging role for natural gas in the transition off carbon, as well as scenarios that call for faster, deeper adoption of renewable energy. “A claim of 100% renewable energy by 2050 may align with energy sector benchmarks for [Paris Agreement]-compatibility, but it is not sufficient to guarantee these pathways meet the LTTG,” they write.

The Climate Analytics paper lands at a moment when fossil companies are profiting wildly from high oil prices brought on principally by Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as the economic rebound following COVID-19 lockdowns. Although fuel prices in some parts of the world have been relenting recently, U.S. President Joe Biden famously commented in June that colossal fossil ExxonMobil was making “more money than god”. Analysis released last week by Toronto-based Environmental Defence showed Canada’s four biggest fossils taking home C$12.3 billion in profits over three months, even as they rejected federal attempts to place a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week, Saudi Aramco reported nearly US$88 billion in profits over the last six months and a record $48.4 billion over the last three, 90% more than the same quarter last year.

And yet, a Fitch Solutions scan shows colossal fossils BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and TotalÉnergies holding back on new investment, with only Shell reporting plans to increase spending, industry newsletter Rigzone wrote last week. “The difficulty in making multi-billion-dollar investments over the long term continues to be dogged by uncertainty raised by the energy transition,” prompting most of the companies to “remain balanced” in their capital spending plans for this year, Fitch wrote.

But Bill Hare at Climate Analytics said fossil investment is still on the rise in Africa and Australia. That shows companies have “chosen to make a bet in effect that the world will not implement rapid climate action”—even though most of them have understood the science of climate change “better than most” for at least a generation.

“In the past, oil and gas majors contested and clouded the science on climate change with uncertainty,” Hare told The Energy Mix in an email. “More recently, they are putting out increasingly sophisticated delay arguments. This includes the one around gas being a transition fuel, a bridge to some zero-carbon future. Yet the science as it’s available shows that this is not the case, and that gas is a bridge to nowhere but a 3-4°C warmer world.”

While some of the companies “are beginning to recognize that they have to change their business model,” he added, “many are not. Some are doing this because of pressure from investors, some are doing it because they judge that that is their only means of survival in the long run.”

He cited BP as one possible example of more genuine change.


  1. We need less government planning with its wacky no carbon futures by a certain date.
    We need to show the world what the market can do when informed by a carbon fee and dividend.

  2. 1000+ scientists mainly not american published a rejection of climate hysteria this week—an issue only suited for political reactionaries

      1. You made the extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  3. The risk to our world isn’t from carbon, it’s from the SUN. On August 18th a geomagnetic storm of only moderate activity hit the Earth from a CME a few days earlier (output from a large solar flare). Many reports of electrical issues, transformer explosions, large scale internet outages (from Netflix) and others occurred as a result. Our grid system is totally vulnerable to being taken out by a large X class solar flare and CME (google Carrington Event). What we need to do is harden the grid system otherwise it could take decades to recover from a Carrington level event.

    This video offers evidence against the current climate models which even the UN says cannot either predict the past, nor the future.

    A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open. F.Zappa.

  4. Bill Hare: “ADAPT TO climate change”?

    What happened to “stop climate change in its tracks”?

  5. So the recent celebrated IRA may well indeed be a “suicide pact” in so far as it basically “fast tracks” oil and gas production and pipelines by removing regulatory barriers, environmental review and otherwise – while the “renewables” industries get their acts together – by the time they do, oops, too late to avoid 2 degree increase, not to mention 1.5

    Yup, congrats Manchin/Schumer – another PR stunt for the DP – will it help the DP in the elections? Maybe, but it sure won’t help the planet ….

  6. Ivar Giaever; nobel laureate +1107 scientists—“there is no climate crisis”—no more justification for right wing reactionary climate fascism…apparntly not all scientists are ruling class apologists….”Americans fetishize science: in America science is the most dogmatic and aggressive of all religions that like others should be separated from the state”. Paul Feyrabend
    “Science is obedience”. Nicolai Berdayaev
    “the scientific attitude is naive and dishonest”. Maurice Meleau-Ponty
    “since is naive realism”. Edmund Hussel
    “man must awaken to wonder and so perhaps do peoples: science sends them back to sleep again”. Ludwig Wittgenstein

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