BP calls on governments to tackle climate change despite coronavirus pandemic pressure

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BP has called on governments to “press ahead” with commitments to tackle climate change even if they find their budgets under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Financial Times.

Brian Gilvary, BP’s chief financial officer, said it was critical countries act with ‘the speed we need’ to avert a catastrophic rise in global temperatures but that he feared they would be too focused on tackling the financial fallout from the crisis.

Speaking at the Financial Times Global Boardroom online conference, Mr Gilvary commented: “We have got to do the energy transition — this isn’t an option.

“I fear that as countries rebuild their balance sheet we won’t press ahead with the pace that we have to if we’re going to hit the 2-degree scenario.”

The debate over a “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in recent weeks, as policymakers grapple with the sharpest economic downturn in a generation.

Many believe the pandemic should serve as a warning over the fragility of the ecosystem, arguing stimulus programmes should be directed towards boosting alternative energy and other measures to reduce pollution.

Mr Gilvary continued: “With 85 per cent of our energy coming from hydrocarbons and the impact that we know that’s having based on 50 years worth of data, the energy transition has got to proceed.”

Energy analysts have questioned how BP will be able to maintain its large dividend, curb a giant debt pile that is among the largest in the sector and invest meaningfully in the energy transition with finances under strain.

But Mr Gilvary said it was increasingly demanded by investors.

“ESG [environmental, social and governance] investing is only heading in one direction,” he said.

But Mr Gilvary added that the volatile nature of the oil market had only “reinforced the case for diversification” away from oil and gas.