BP accused of putting ‘profit before people and planet’ as fossil fuel investments revealed

"The incentives of Big Oil are fatally misaligned with the needs of a secure, fair energy transition"

BP sign on a blue sky

The energy giant BP has been accused of prioritising its profits over people and the planet after making £2.7 billion in profit over the last quarter, while investing £2 billion in fossil fuels.

Leading think tank IPPR said now was a time when energy companies should be urgently responding to climate change, but instead BP has “doubled down on its oil and gas business to reap enormous profits.”

For every £1 BP spent on low carbon investments in the last quarter, they invested £11 in fossil fuels it was revealed. And since the energy price shock began two years ago, BP has put nine times more into fossil fuels as renewables.

BP also completed more than £14.8 billion of buybacks from surplus cash flow whilst announcing a new round of share buybacks, which will transfer £1.2 billion to shareholders.

“It’s clear that oil and gas companies are prioritising their shareholders at the expense of the transition to clean energy, so the UK government must now take the reins by investing in renewables,” said Joseph Evans, IPPR researcher.

Although BP’s profits have actually fallen on last year, when the oil company saw mega earnings following the rise in oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, £2.7 billion profit between July and September remains extremely high as organisations ask why ordinary people are still facing high energy bills.

“The government has had countless opportunities to bring down our bills and emissions. Instead, all we’ve had are weakened green policies and massive tax breaks for oil and gas giants,” Friends of the Earth responded.

Whilst Greenpeace has called for world leaders at the COP next month to force BP and the oil industry to stop drilling and to “pay for the damage they are causing the planet”.

“With massive storms pummelling both sides of the Atlantic, BP continues to post billions in profit while ordinary people pick up the tab for climate change,” said Charlie Kronick, Senior Climate Advisor at Greenpeace UK.

“But just when strong government action is needed to curb fossil fuel industry profiteering, Rishi Sunak is hurtling in the wrong direction, threatening policies which will cement our dependence on fossil fuels and intensify the climate and cost of living crises.”

The campaign organisation We Own It has since called for bringing energy back into public ownership, which is supported by 66% of the public, and introducing a proper windfall tax.

Whilst the IPPR think tank argued that the UK could have created 100,000 more jobs in the wind industry had it followed in the footsteps of Denmark’s and built up domestic manufacturing.

Campaign organisation Common Wealth reflected that the latest BP spending shows how, “the incentives of Big Oil are fatally misaligned with the needs of a secure, fair energy transition.”

(Image credit: Mike Mozart – Creative Commons)

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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