The big environmental news of the week is unexpected and, in a planetary sense, encouraging.
Oil giant BP slashed $17.5bn from the value of its oil and gas assets, warning of the enduring impact of the COVID-19 crisis, which it expects will accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels.
Reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 is a core element of the Paris Agreement to stop runaway climate change.
“We have reset our price outlook to reflect that impact and the likelihood of greater efforts to ‘build back better’ towards a Paris-consistent world,” said BP chief executive Bernard Looney, who assumed his role in February.
The paradox of COVID-19 is that despite the misery it has wrought, it does present a tremendous opportunity for governments to revive their economies in a climate-friendly way, which could force a whole load of oil and gas to be left in the ground, as renewables take over the global grids.
And it seems this is how Looney sees the future. Earlier this year, he promised BP would invest more in clean energy and less in fossil fuels over the next 30 years.
Of course we must apply a generous sprinkling of scepticism to the pronouncements of an oil giant. Only when the drilling actually stops can you be sure of the company’s commitment to shrinking its carbon footprint to zero.
Norway continues exploring
But the move does make you look askance at