ExxonMobil accused of ‘greenwashing’ over carbon seize plan it didn’t spend money on

ExxonMobil accused of ‘greenwashing’ over carbon seize plan it didn’t spend money on

Motorists involved in regards to the influence on the planet of petrol and diesel vehicles could also be comforted by Esso’s advertising and marketing marketing campaign on “considerate driving”.

Certainly one of its most eye-catching initiatives is a proposal to entice carbon dioxide at an unlimited oil refinery and petrochemical complicated on the south coast and retailer it beneath the seabed of the English Channel.

The oil refinery at Fawley, a village in Hampshire, is operated by the US agency ExxonMobil, Esso’s guardian firm. The oil agency says the scheme will imply drivers can “replenish with much less influence” and make “a serious contribution to the UK’s transfer to internet zero”.

However now the oil large faces allegations of greenwashing as an investigation by openDemocracy reveals that the undertaking could by no means get off the drafting board. It hasn’t acquired a licence or authorities assist, and the corporate has not dedicated any of its personal cash to construct it.

Paul Greenwood, Exxon’s UK boss, has mentioned a 2030 goal to finish a primary part of building could also be hit solely “in case you wave a magic wand”.

Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, mentioned carbon seize and storage was hailed by the oil business as a “miraculous silver bullet”, however had didn’t ship. “Carbon seize and storage doesn’t look like a lot nearer to decreasing carbon emissions, or being reasonably priced, than it did 20 years in the past,” he mentioned. “This scheme stands out as greenwashing.”

Carbon seize and storage (CCS) entails isolating and trapping CO2 emissions the place they’re produced – equivalent to at an influence station, refinery or incinerator. The captured fuel can both be used to make merchandise, equivalent to artificial gasoline or fizzy drinks, or it may be transported by pipeline or ship to a everlasting storage website deep beneath the seabed.

However the expertise has developed “at a snail’s tempo”, in line with analysts. There have been simply 41 CCS vegetation working globally by the tip of final yr, none of them within the UK. Collectively, they captured about 0.1% of annual world CO2 emissions. 4 industrial “clusters” in Scotland, north-west England, Teesside and the Humber have been chosen for funding by the UK authorities, however ultimate funding choices haven’t been made on any of the schemes.

Exxon’s plans for Fawley would see the corporate construct a brand new “blue hydrogen” plant, which manufactures low-carbon hydrogen. The corporate claims it will seize 2.7m tonnes of CO2 annually from the method. A Solent Cluster report funded by the corporate claims it may “start operations” in 2030.

The report additionally claims that the CO2 captured at Fawley can be piped beneath the seabed someplace off the Isle of Wight.

Nevertheless, Exxon is but to safe both a carbon storage licence for the English Channel website or authorities assist for the undertaking. The Solent Cluster, which Exxon co-founded, utilized unsuccessfully for presidency funding for the Fawley scheme final yr.

Exxon helped launch the report within the Home of Commons final month, at an occasion attended by the power minister Martin Callanan. On the occasion, Greenwood was requested whether or not his firm would be capable of fulfil its declare that it may begin capturing CO2 at Fawley by 2030.

“We’re not there but,” he replied. “It will depend on once you undergo the funding determination. In the event you wave a magic wand and say ‘you’ve acquired all of the funding that you simply want’, then you’ll be able to hit that type of timeline.”

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Exxon has to this point refused to commit its personal cash to construct it and has as a substitute centered funding on rising diesel manufacturing on the refinery, spending £800m to supply an additional 60m litres a day. The refinery is already the biggest within the UK and supplies fuels for the equal of 1 in each 5 autos on Britain’s roads.

Dustin Benton, coverage director of the Inexperienced Alliance thinktank and a member of Carbon Seize, Utilization and Storage Council, a government-appointed advisory physique, mentioned: “[Carbon capture and storage] is prone to be needed to succeed in internet zero, however the expertise can’t be used as an excuse to hold on drilling oil and fuel, or increasing the manufacturing of petrol and diesel.”

A spokesperson for the Solent Cluster claimed the Fawley undertaking and different carbon seize and hydrogen initiatives within the space may safe 70,000 jobs.

An Exxon spokesperson mentioned the corporate was dedicated to enjoying a key position within the power transition. “This transition takes time and isn’t a linear course of, with tempo and route formed by elements together with expertise advances, enabling coverage, economic system and public assist.

“We proceed to have interaction positively with authorities to show our capabilities and the direct contribution we will make to internet zero and are hopeful that these efforts will assist The Solent Cluster achieve assist to ship its potential.”

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