As it has done since 1995, EDF will join next week’s UN climate conference in Egypt and call on governments to take stronger action to meet the urgent goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Before that, we make our presence felt at another event you’ve probably never heard of, in a place where environmentalists are rarely seen.
This year it will have a significant presence for the first time at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition (ADIPEC). ADIPEC is perhaps the largest professional gathering of the oil and gas sector in the world. Held under the auspices of UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, his four-day event will be attended by more than 150,000 people from across the industry.
Strong policies have always been central to our work, but EDF has a long history of principled and effective engagement with energy companies of all kinds, identifying and improving best practices and ensuring that they are standardized. I try to make it a good practice.
What makes ADIPEC a new frontier for us is the presence of the National Oil and Gas Company (NOC).
An important part of the climate conversation
These are very different from the companies whose names you know. The seven top “supermajors” – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell and TotalEnergies – are all publicly traded companies and all have headquarters in the US or Europe. And that’s where most of the climate and energy transition story centers.
By contrast, ADIPEC participants are not the people we meet in Washington, Brussels, or Houston for that matter. Nearly three-quarters come from Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East.
This is important because NOCs in these regions today fully produce half of the world’s oil and gas and hold 67% of the world’s reserves. While some are known for being wealthy, government citizens have the fewest resources to deal with and are most likely to be affected by global warming. As such, they become an important part of the conversation.
NOCs are rarely subject to shareholder or public pressure. With a few exceptions, they are lagging behind efforts to address greenhouse gas pollution and rethink business models to meet the needs of decarbonized markets. I think we are late for the conversation.
Creation of a new door toward a true solution
Time and time again I found that there are people across the industry who understand the threat of climate change, if you push past the lobbyists and public relations gatekeepers. And I expect that to be the case at ADIPEC as well.
We have no intention of turning these companies into climate warriors. Rather, by expanding their thinking about important opportunities like methane and the potential problems with the emerging hydrogen economy that could exacerbate the climate crisis if not managed carefully, We want to create new opportunities to work on solutions.
Case in point: Oil and gas companies around the world are currently wasting billions of dollars of methane each year through leaks, flaring, and other emissions. This is gas already extracted from the ground that could be used to meet urgent energy needs in Europe and elsewhere.
Coordinated global action using existing technologies could halve methane pollution by 2030 and slow the rate of warming by as much as 30%. The International Energy Agency says the industry can reduce methane emissions by 75% using currently available technology.
EDF and its subsidiary MthanSAT have appeared together on almost 20 panels at ADIPEC. We have hundreds of conversations in our hallways. Our booth on the trade show floor will be the first to showcase an early version of the Metasat data product. This gives companies a new sense that robust and fully transparent emissions data is on the way.
In developing countries, oil and gas are seen as important pathways to social and economic improvement in poverty-stricken countries. EDF takes these aspirations seriously. The companies entrusted by the sovereign governments of these countries to develop the country’s energy resources are key players in the equitable energy transition.
That’s why we’re excited to engage with these stakeholders in this new and unfamiliar place. I hope it’s the start of something big.
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