Advocacy

To transform energy across the US, our advocacy efforts focus on supporting policies that create the incentives and regulatory environment needed to decarbonize our energy system.

At bp, we’ve committed to being part of the solution for a low carbon future. We believe governments play a critical role by setting ambitious emission reduction targets and putting strong, effective policies in place to make them a reality.

In announcing our transformation, we said we would allocate resources to promote and advance policies that support getting the world to net zero. Here in the US, bp is working at the local, state, regional and federal level to enact solutions that accelerate meaningful action. From supporting an economy-wide carbon price in Washington state to pushing for industry-wide federal methane regulations, we’re actively advocating for change.

Methane

Tackling methane emissions is vital if natural gas – increasingly decarbonized over time – is to play its fullest role in the energy transition. But to do that, we need to tackle methane emissions fast, and regulations can help.

Why methane reduction matters

Methane currently accounts for around one-fifth of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions on a like-for-like basis. It has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO₂), but a greater near-term warming potential. In fact, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of CO₂ over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.

But because of methane’s shorter lifetime in the air, reducing new methane emissions could dramatically reduce the pace of warming. So curbing methane emissions from oil and gas can have incredible near-term impacts — both on climate warming and on the world’s ability to meet net zero by 2050 or sooner. Methane is the primary component in natural gas and that’s why we’re in action to minimize methane emissions at our sites.

Methane measurement

We are aiming to install methane measurement at all our existing major oil and gas processing sites by 2023, publish the data and then drive a 50% reduction in methane intensity of our operations globally.

To meet our aim, we’re also adopting a new measurement approach to address methane emissions. By the end of 2023, we will roll out this new measurement approach to relevant sites. This new approach, developed in 2020, comprises a prioritized hierarchy of options for making more use of methane measurement. Based on this new measurement approach, we have set a 2025 methane intensity target of 0.20% and have now moved away from a target based on general industry methodologies, such as calculating or estimating emissions using emission factors.

Increased measurement is key to better reporting and planning targeted interventions — and assessing their impact. And we hope that by sharing our data, we can help others improve their methane emission reduction efforts, too.

However, voluntary initiatives like ours will not be enough to effectively minimize methane emissions across the sector. Regulation has a clear role to play. It’s a fair way to drive all companies to prioritize methane abatement.

Methane molecules float against a blue and black background

Our methane advocacy

We believe natural gas – increasingly decarbonized over time – has a key role to play in getting the world to net zero. Tackling methane emissions is critical to get all the benefits natural gas can offer. So, we’re convening experts, sharing best practices and advocating for greater regulation of methane.

For example, bp supports the direct regulation of methane from new and existing sources by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To help achieve this, we encouraged Congress and the Biden Administration to roll back the 2020 changes to EPA’s methane emissions standards for new and modified sources. In June 2021, President Biden signed legislation restoring the prior methane rules, which will drive reduction in methane emissions in the US. The EPA is expected to propose new regulations for new and modified, as well as existing, sources in response to a January 2021 Executive Order. We’re engaging with the EPA as it develops this new rule as part of our advocacy efforts.

bp is also a signatory to the Methane Guiding Principles and is actively encouraging our joint ventures and partners to sign up. In 2019, we announced a three-year strategic collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund to advance technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry.

Image of a bp team member working in the field, walking up the steps at the base of a drilling operation, with a tower over him.

Flaring is one of the main sources of methane for our sector. In 2021, we announced our aim to achieve zero routine flaring by 2025 for our US onshore operations. And, in 2020, bp and Shell submitted comments to the Texas Railroad Commission supporting an ambition of zero routine flaring in Texas. We continue to focus on flare reduction activity and to support the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, which brings together stakeholders to work together to eliminate routine flaring from operated oil assets by 2030.

Even as we expand our methane advocacy work, bp isn’t waiting for regulation to reduce emissions from our operations. Tackling methane is front and center in our near-term actions that are crucial to our net zero transformation.

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Regional carbon pricing initiatives

bp actively supports regional cap-and-invest programs across the United States.

Green block with the text that says "Policy can boost the economy and drive down carbon."

The case for TCI

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Covering emissions from finished gasoline and on-road diesel, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) program aims for a 26% reduction over its first 10 years.

To achieve that, the program would establish an emissions cap and a rate at which the cap would decrease annually. Fuel suppliers would purchase emissions credits — allocated proportionally among the states — that could be traded in secondary markets. The program would contain stability mechanisms to ensure that costs remain manageable and emissions goals are met.

TCI would thus allow businesses to plan for change over time, rather than suffer the shock of unanticipated change. It would spur innovation by incentivizing the development of less carbon-intensive products. It would also generate revenue that could help states fund critical infrastructure, green jobs, education and other key priorities. And while its immediate costs could be passed on to consumers through gas prices, a predictable evolution and transition to lower-carbon alternatives could significantly reduce emissions and bring consumer prices back down.

Advocating for TCI

The Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI), a regional collaboration seeking to improve transportation, develop a clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions across 12 East Coast states and the District of Columbia, has proposed a regional cap-and-invest program seeking to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector while creating jobs, boosting the economy and modernizing infrastructure.

TCI took a big step forward in 2020, when the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, together with the mayor of the District of Columbia, signed a memorandum of understanding on the program, while several other states signed letters committing to further consideration of the initiative.

Estimates show that the cap-and-invest program would create jobs, increase regional GDP, provide certainty for businesses and reduce emissions.

bp began supporting TCI in 2019, and we’re energized by the progress made so far to help the East Coast implement the program and lead the US in climate policy. TCI harnesses the power of competitive markets to change behaviors and encourage innovation while giving companies the certainty needed to invest and develop new technologies at a speed and scale required for real progress. Programs like these prove we don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy – we can invest in both.

Mary Streett
SVP, communications & advocacy, Americas

Designed by state leaders with help from the Georgetown Climate Center, TCI would complement existing climate programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a successful cap-and-invest carbon pricing system for the power sector. RGGI served as a model for TCI, and bp has proudly championed both.

Expanding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Launched in 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) limits carbon emissions from power plants[1] by placing a regional cap on emissions and requiring companies to buy or trade allowances to emit up to the cap limit. The cap decreases annually, so the allowance price rises every year. This system gives industry flexibility to meet reduction targets at the lowest possible cost.

Over the past decade, RGGI states have seen a range of benefits while emissions and electricity costs have declined, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Participants currently include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Pennsylvania and North Carolina are also considering joining.

Numerous transmission lines and towers with a sunset in the background

We urge states to take all steps necessary to participate in TCI and RGGI. Together with a coalition of business leaders, transportation companies, environmental groups and other stakeholders, bp will continue working to get as many states signed on as possible.

  • [1]

    Applies where generators over 25 megawatts are required to possess credits.

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Washington’s Climate Commitment Act (CCA)

In May 2021, Washington state enacted the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), a major milestone in its drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and jumpstart the transition to a low carbon economy.

A large tanker ship docks on the coast of Washington State

Strong, effective policy matters

bp actively supported the CCA, which creates a comprehensive and market-based cap-and-invest program to curb emissions.

Our ambition is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner and help the world get there, too. But we also recognize that net zero ambitions from bp and other companies are not enough. State, regional and national governments need to establish a strong and effective policy framework.

Seattle city skyline with a snowcapped mountain in the background

A well-designed cap-and-invest program, such as the one adopted in Washington state, represents the cornerstone of this framework. It provides the certainty businesses need to invest in the future, and it sends clear signals to the private sector that can yield creative solutions for emissions reductions.

Indeed, it incentivizes and rewards low carbon innovation across the entire economy – from the boardroom to small companies to start-ups. Revenue generated from the CCA can go toward state climate priorities, like clean air, electrified transportation and energy efficiency. In addition, projects are reviewed by an advisory panel created by the legislation that centers on the needs of overburdened communities.

A coalition of support

Home to our Cherry Point refinery, Washington is now the second state in the country with an economy-wide, market-based carbon pricing program.

The other is California, where bp backed an extension of the existing cap-and-invest program out to 2030, and where we’re actively engaging with policymakers as they work to update the policy in the coming months.

bp did more than just endorse the Washington Climate Commitment Act (CCA)— we actively advocated for its passage, working with Clean & Prosperous Washington (a project of the Washington Business Alliance) and a broad coalition of other supporters, including environmental and community groups.

We applaud the Washington state legislature for passing this critical bill for lowering carbon emissions. This historic achievement puts the state on a path to net zero by 2050. We look forward to working with state agencies as they develop rules to implement this program. bp remains firmly committed to delivering on its own net zero ambition and being part of the solution for a low carbon future.

Dave Lawler
president and chairman of bp America

As Washington state has demonstrated, we do not have to choose between the environment and the economy — we can invest in both. bp hopes the Washington program will become a model for other states looking to accelerate their own low carbon transition. It shows what progressive climate policy can accomplish.

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