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The dual challenge: providing energy for a sustainable world

It’s no exaggeration that energy transforms lives. It heats our homes and cooks our food, helps us to build hospitals and schools and allows us to be mobile. But, we also need energy that is cleaner for our environment.

The dual challenge is how BP describes one of the biggest issues of our time – how to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whilst delivering the energy our growing world needs.

Kathrina Mannion, Director of Environmental Policy at BP, explains: “The world needs to drastically reduce emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, but at the same time energy demand is increasing.”

Big energy companies like BP can play an important role: using their engineering expertise and financial strength to bring cleaner and lower carbon energy to those who need it most. And BP is committed to advancing a low carbon future, including growing its renewables and other low-carbon businesses.

These include Chargemaster, which BP acquired in 2018. BP Chargemaster is UK’s largest electric vehicle charging network and operates more than 7,000 public charging points across the UK. The electricity used on Chargemaster’s public network is certified as 100% renewable.           

BP has also joined forces with Lightsource, a solar developer, to create Lightsource BP that is focused on funding, developing and managing major solar projects around the world.

While many businesses are reacting to predictions about the potential economic impact of climate change, another important element of the energy transition is improving quality of life and access to resources.

Close to one billion people in the world live without access to electricity; 3 billion people will use harmful fuels to cook their family meals tonight.

Nili Safavi, Social Performance & Human Rights Manager at BP, discussed how near its Tangguh LNG facility, in Indonesia, BP works with the government and the local electricity company to supply 24-hour electricity for rural communities, thereby reducing dependence on high-cost diesel-fueled power plants.

In Mexico, BP Target Neutral is engaged in a cookstoves project by buying carbon offsets. Close to four million people around the world die prematurely every year as a result of illnesses attributable to household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels such as firewood. The cookstove project has equipped 25,000 rural homes in Mexico with cookstoves that use up to 58% less firewood than a traditional open fire. That means a reduction in carbon of 40,000 tonnes of CO2e per year.

These initiatives are part of a broader push to accelerate a lower carbon future whilst trying to meet current increasing demands for energy. It’s a daunting challenge, but, as Katharina says, there are reasons to be positive.

“I’m a natural optimist, and I am hopeful. The world’s leaders gathered together in 2015 and agreed that action needed to be taken. Socially, awareness of climate change has never been higher, and people are demanding action.

The final reason I’m optimistic is because of technology. Things are changing at a rate that we never could anticipate and the range of technological solutions that we as a company alone are involved in, gives me hope every day.”


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