Executives in the oil and gas industry could stand to lose their jobs if they ignore climate change or don’t drive their companies to move quickly enough, according to a new report. Oil and gas companies could even be held legally responsible for their role in climate change, if the current trends surrounding ESG and the oil and gas industry are any indication of what’s to come, suggests the ESG Winds of Change report from S&P Global Ratings.
The S&P Global Ratings risk assessment for upstream oil and gas producers was upgraded to “moderately high” earlier this year, and recent events underscore the threats the industry faces. Shell faced a surprising court ruling in the Netherlands which requires the company reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, while Chevron and ExxonMobil faced “shareholder revolt” that has been called a “victory in the fight against climate change,” wrote The Guardian. (Shell CEO Ben van Beurden wrote in a statement that though he questioned the ruling and its implications, he also feels a “determination to rise to the challenge.”)
Investors and financial advisers have been increasingly calling for ESG-related investment changes. “Institutional investors understand that no investment is safe in a global economy wracked by devastating climate change,” said Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, the Dutch organization that has rallied investor support for oil and gas companies to cut emissions. Follow This claims that the oil industry can “make or break” the Paris Climate Agreement.
Not the least of the pressures facing the industry is the International Energy Agency’s strong warning on the need to drastically scale back fossil fuels published in its May 2021 Net Zero by 2050 Report and roadmap for the global energy sector.
Overall, “some companies may be in for a rough ride,” the authors of the S&P Global Ratings report write.