BP’s outgoing CEO, Bob Dudley, has accused activists and politicians of oversimplifying energy issues, saying that fossil fuels will remain essential for at least two more decades.
He said some of his daughter’s friends were taking antidepressants because of climate fears.
Dudley said he hated “to see young people so unhappy, so anxious” and his daughter, a social worker in California, questioned his career choices.
The BP chief said: “I wish the young people today would get more involved in energy — actually getting involved, whether it’s renewables or not. Because it’s the easiest job to throw rocks. It is just such fun. But you have to have some responsibility for these things and that’s not what everybody’s doing.
“I hate to see young people so unhappy, so anxious about it. Where my daughter lives, she says people are on antidepressants.”
Despite increasing pressure on energy firms and their investors over climate change, BP produces the equivalent of 3.7 million barrels of oil and gas a day and is directly or indirectly responsible for 491 million tonnes of annual carbon emissions, which is more than the UK.
BP says, at the current rate of change, oil, gas and coal would still account for 73 per cent of energy consumed by 2040. Even under a “rapid transition” envisioned under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, fossil fuels would account for an estimated 56 per cent, the oil and gas giant forecast.
BP has invested in biofuels and solar power but has faced criticism for channelling only 3 per cent of its annual spending budget into renewable sources.
Dudley, who is to step down as chief executive in February, said: “There will be 2 billion more people, roughly, on the planet by 2040 and we’ll need a third more energy, which is like saying we’re going to need another China and US in terms of scale. Today, renewables are 4 per cent of primary demand around the world. People have simplified this incredibly complex thing far too much. There’s a lot of people who just think, ‘Stop using fossil fuels and put renewables everywhere.’ You will not even come close to that.
The 64-year-old said: “The epicentre of climate change, really, is there’s a coal-fired power plant starting up every week in eight countries in Asia, so the perspective here and in the US is completely different to in Asia because they need to raise living standards for a large, growing population . . . I believe the world cannot have any chance of reaching the goals of Paris without natural gas displacing coal. Natural gas is a potent greenhouse gas, but if it doesn’t leak and you burn it right, it has half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal.”
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