Enbridge joins Shell, BP with 2050 emissions goal

Enbridge Inc. became the largest company in the North American oil industry to set a goal of eliminating all net emissions from its operations by 2050, joining major European producers in providing climate-conscious investors with a plan to tackle global warming.

The pipeline giant also established an interim target of reducing the intensity of greenhouse-gas emissions from its operations by 35 per cent by 2030, according to environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, targets it outlined Friday. It follows similar or tougher pledges by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP plc, Total SE and Repsol SA, while top U.S. producers Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. have made clear they are not following suit.

“It’s a very public demonstration of our level of commitment to making progress on these important criteria and issues that matter to society and to our stakeholders,” Peter Sheffield, Enbridge’s chief sustainability officer, said in an interview.

The oil and gas industry, which has long been the target of environmental groups, is under increasing pressure from shareholders managing trillions of dollars to address greenhouse-gas emissions such as methane. Those investors include AllianceBernstein Holding LP and California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Enbridge’s plan doesn’t include a net-zero target for so-called scope 3 emissions -- the ones stemming from the combustion of fossil fuels by cars, airplanes, homes and factories. For now, the Calgary-based company said it will address those by helping suppliers and customers to cut emissions in line with the recommendations of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Canadian company with a vast pipeline network in the U.S. has invested in several wind and solar energy projects over the years. That means it already has the capacity to deliver more than 2,000 megawatts of net-zero power to customers in the U.S., Canada and Europe -- equivalent to the consumption of about 950,000 homes or a city about the size of San Francisco, the company said.

In addition to investments in renewable energy, Enbridge said it will pursue improvements to its infrastructure, carbon offset credits and renewable energy certificates.

Enbridge’s goals don’t apply to joint ventures such as DCP Midstream, a partnership with Phillips 66 that operates more than 15,000 miles of natural gas gathering and transmission pipelines in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

DCP has had 187 unauthorized emissions events that resulted in flaring in the region so far this year, mostly due to power failures, weather and third-party issues, filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show.

Gas flaring in the Permian Basin remains a key concern for environmentalists and many Asian and European liquefied natural gas buyers.

“While these are assets we don’t control, we can and will have conversations with our partners to ensure they have a deeper understanding of the importance of reducing emissions to address climate change,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Enbridge also holds a 10.5 per cent stake in the proposed Annova LNG project at the Port of Brownsville in Texas and a 100% stake in the proposed Rio Bravo Pipeline to support NextDecade Corp.’s nearby Rio Grande LNG project.

The Port of Brownsville projects face staunch opposition from environmentalists and other opponents who have fought for more than five years to keep the projects from being built.

Citing concerns over flared gas and other issues, the French government sided with opponents and intervened to block a long-term LNG supply deal between Engie SA and Rio Grande LNG.

Enbridge has pledged to reduce carbon intensity in its gas stream, which would apply to the company’s LNG projects. The company’s ESG plan also includes a commitment to having 40 per cent women and 20 per cent ethnic and racial minorities on its board by 2025, as well as several other steps to promote diversity.

Performance-based compensation of its employees will include ESG metrics, Enbridge said.

© Bloomberg LP 

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