Oil and auto majors seek offset solutions to help carbon-neutral targets

Carbon offset is part of the answer to carbon neutrality.

For a company to be totally carbon neutral, it needs to address the entire life cycle of a product, from source to consumption. While the oil and automotive industries acknowledge it isn't possible to be totally carbon neutral along this road, the roll call of companies addressing this issue through major changes is growing.

Motorsport is a prime example of change. Not only is Formula E - the all-electric version of Formula 1 - becoming a major force for change, but Formula 1 itself has its sights set on a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. The top level of motorsport had to face challenges include the emissions created by fans' travel to events. While governing body, the FIA, has been able to plan for progress on all on-track activity and other related operations, it is now looking at solutions such as ensuring venues have greater access to public transport to reduce CO2. Where it cannot be carbon neutral, it is operating carbon offset schemes like reforestation and better forest management to enhance carbon capture. 

So where does this leave the oil producers? As well as announcing the re-focus of its investments into renewable energy, Shell has introduced a global portfolio of carbon neutral lubricants to offset the annual emissions produced by the consumption of more than 200m litres of advanced synthetic lubricants.  The company expects to compensate around 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions annually, the same as taking approximately 340,000 cars off the road each year. Part of this process has been to reduce lubricants' packaging waste and using recycled materials. 

BP's Target Neutral assesses the carbon footprint of each new carbon neutral lubricant and commits to reduce carbon throughout its lifecycle - including emissions associated with production, packaging and distribution. The remainder of its emissions are offset by purchasing carbon credits from projects around the world that reduce or avoid greenhouse gases. As with Shell, BP is using carbon-offset to complement its investment re-structure to focus on renewable energy, a move also mirrored by French-based Total.

Leading independent, Fuchs, has declared itself carbon-neutral across its 60 locations worldwide since 2020. This includes everything from the energy consumed in production, to the consumables used in administration operations. Research into the use of sustainable raw materials and the development of standards and measures for quantifying and certifying sustainability form part of the company's strategy.

As with the oil majors, automotive's big players are driving the carbon-neutral agenda. As well as introducing more EVs into its line-up of vehicles, General Motors, in a five-year acceleration of its previously announced global goal, says it will source 100% renewable energy to power its U.S. sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035. And GM is not alone - 2020 saw a number of automakers, including Ford, BMW and Volvo all announcing targets to achieve carbon neutrality on or before the global target date of 2050.