“Back to Petroleum”: BP shuts clean energy HQ, slashes renewables budget, dives into tar sands
The UK’s Guardian reports:
BP has shut down its alternative energy headquarters in London, accepted the resignation of its clean energy boss and imposed budget cuts in moves likely to be seen by environmental critics as further signs of the oil group moving “back to petroleum”.
Sad, but not terribly original or surprising (see “Shell shocker: Once ‘green’ oil company guts renewables effort“).
But Tony Hayward, the group’s chief executive, said BP remained as committed as ever to exploring new energy sources and the non-oil division would benefit from the extra focus of being brought back in house….
“It saves money and brings it closer to home … you could almost see it as a reinforcement [of our commitment to the business],” he said.
Seriously, they gut the program and claim it is “reinforcement” of their commitment. Perhaps BP stands for “Beyond Prevarication” or “Beyond Pinocchio.”
In the business world, “money talks, bullsh!t walks” – so let’s follow the money (as it departs the BP clean energy biz):
BP Alternative Energy was given its own headquarters in County Hall opposite the Houses of Parliament two years ago and its managing director, Vivienne Cox, oversaw a small division of 80 staff concentrating on wind and solar power.
But the 49-year-old Cox — BP’s most senior female executive, who previously ran renewables as part of a larger gas and power division now dismantled by Hayward — is standing down tomorrow.
This comes alongside huge cuts in the alternative energy budget – from $1.4bn (£850m) last year to between $500m and $1bn this year….
What is the next “reinforcement” for the staff – cement galoshes?
In April the company closed a range of solar power manufacturing plants in Spain and the US with the loss of 620 jobs and Hayward has publicly questioned whether solar would ever become competitive with fossil fuels, something that goes against the current thinking inside the renewables sector.
Hayward has also moved BP into more controversial oil areas, such as Canada’s tar sands, creating an impression that he has given up on the objectives of his predecessor, Lord Browne, to take the company “Beyond Petroleum”.
Note to Guardian: “Creating an impression that he has given up”? How about just “giving up”?
Yes, well, given that conventional oil production is peaking, if you abandon the clean energy alternatives then you have no choice but to get into the real dirty climate-destroying stuff (see “BP proves Beyond Petroleum was greenwashing, joins “biggest global warming crime ever seen” ” and “Investors warn Shell and BP over tar sands greenwashing“). That would be betting your company’s future on destroying your children’s future.
Note to BP: The world – joined by Canada – is eventually going to ban production and use of oil from the tar sands once we become truly desperate to stave off 1000 ppm and 5-7°C warming. My guess is that happens no later than 2030.
BP, R.I.P. You have written your own epitaph.
- Big oil made over $600 billion during Bush years, but invested bupkis in clean energy, Part 1
- Part 2: Details on BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Shell and ExxonMobil