The climate challenge

BP recognizes that the existing trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide is not consistent with limiting the global average temperature rise to 2°C or lower

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and is in large part due to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities. It makes clear that substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions are needed to limit warming to 2°C, the threshold recognized by governments as limiting the worst impacts of climate change.

A complex issue

BP believes global action on climate change is needed. It’s a complex issue and all aspects of the debate should be considered in their totality.

There are multiple actors and actions

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from energy make up around two thirds of all global man-made global greenhouse gas emissions. This energy supplies many staples in today’s world: heat, light, industrial power and transportation. Agriculture and land-use changes, such as deforestation and clearing land for crops, account for about a quarter of the emissions.

Emissions to rise through continued fossil fuel use

BP’s Energy Outlook projects that global CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels may be 20% higher in 2035 than they were in 2014, partly as a consequence of coal use in rapidly growing economies. This is not what BP wants to see, but what we currently think is likely.

All fossil fuels are not equal

About 60% of potential CO₂ emissions from known fossil fuel reserves are from coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. By comparison, gas would account for around 15% of potential CO₂ emissions and is the least carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

There is a variety of oil and gas resource users

Around 80-90% of CO₂ emissions from oil and gas products are from their use by consumers, with the remainder generated during their extraction and development. 

Not an easy solution

Achieving substantial and rapid GHG emissions reductions will be challenging, especially in light of growing demand for energy in emerging economies. The scale, cost and long life of much of the world’s existing energy infrastructure could slow down the transition to a lower-carbon future.

Some potentially important lower-carbon technologies - including carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles and nuclear energy - face significant political, infrastructure, logistical or cost challenges. The costs for some technologies, like solar, have fallen, while others have remained high. As a result, some governments have reduced their levels of support if not required or too costly.

Taking action

Meeting the climate challenge requires efforts by all - governments, companies and consumers.

Governments must lead by providing a clear, stable and effective climate policy framework. In BP we consider placing an economy-wide price on carbon - either through carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade system - as the best solution. This allows companies to provide energy competitively while taking steps to limit GHGs, and enables consumers to make informed choices.

We are working with peers in the sector to highlight and help address this global challenge. For example, we are active participants in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), a voluntary, CEO-led industry initiative that aims to catalyse meaningful action on climate change through best practice sharing and collaboration. Combined, OGCI members produce over one-fifth of the world’s oil and gas.

BP is playing its part by calling for a price on carbon, providing lower-carbon products including natural gas and renewables, pursuing energy efficiency and supporting research.

How can emissions be reduced?

There are many ways to decrease GHGs, and some can have more immediate impact than others. BP calculates that each of these options could cut global emissions by the same amount.

Alternatives with equal benefit:


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

Related content