What the oil and gas boom means for clean energy

Supermajors are doubling down on extraction and slowing investments in renewables. We try to make sense of the market shift.

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On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

In 2020, the top five Western oil and gas supermajors — ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron and Total — saw combined losses of $76 billion. That was caused by the radical drop in energy consumption when Covid shut down the global economy.

That year, BP CEO Bernard Looney called for a 40% cut in oil and gas production in a decade’s time and promised to invest billions of dollars each year into renewables.

Two years later, thanks to a war waged by Russia that disrupted supply and a larger-than-expected bounceback in global oil demand, high prices brought in $200 billion in profits for those companies.

Rather than making the drastic cuts it had initially proposed, BP decided it would invest billions more in oil and gas production. Shell is doing the same, expanding fossil fuel extraction while keeping its clean energy investments flat. And even with these windfall profits, clean energy only accounts for 5% of oil company capital expenditures globally.

At one point, it seemed like there was a real shift happening in the sector. And now, with the global appetite for oil still growing, the allure of high profits is shifting investments back into extraction. 

This week, we consider how this new boom time for oil and gas companies will impact investments in clean energy.

Plus, we’ll take stock of some of the hottest emerging sectors, including hydrogen, virtual power plants and the recycling of critical minerals and metals.

Jigar Shah and Katherine Hamilton are back on the show this week to dissect all of it.

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