Equinor has launched a new climate roadmap aiming to grow renewable energy capacity tenfold by 2026, reach carbon-neutral global operations by 2030, and reduce net carbon intensity by at least 50% by 2050.

The company is planning to reduce the CO2 intensity of its globally operated oil and gas production to below 8kg per barrel of oil equivalent by 2025, five years earlier than its previous ambition. The current global industry average is 18kg of CO2 per barrel.

Equinor’s goal to reduce net carbon intensity by at least 50% by 2050 takes into account scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, from initial production to final consumption. By 2050 each unit of energy produced is set to create less than half of the emissions than today. The operator will rely on electrification projects, energy efficiency measures and new value chains such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

Equinor president and CEO Eldar Sætre said: “Equinor’s strategic direction is clear. We are developing as a broad energy company, leveraging the strong synergies between oil, gas, renewables, CCUS [carbon capture, utilisation and storage] and hydrogen. We will continue addressing our own emissions in line with the emitter pays principle. But, we can and will do much more. As part of the energy industry, we must be part of the solution to combat climate change and address decarbonisation more broadly in line with changes in society.

“We will produce less oil in a low-carbon future, but value creation from oil and gas will still be high, and renewables give significant new opportunities to create attractive returns and growth,” he added.

As Equinor is preparing to reach carbon-neutral global operations by 2030, the main priority for the company will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations. Remaining emissions will be compensated either through quota trading systems, such as the EU Emissions Trading System or other high-quality offset mechanisms. By setting this goal, Equinor intends to demonstrate its support for carbon pricing and the establishment of global carbon market mechanisms as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The operator also announced its ambitions to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from its operated offshore fields and onshore plants in Norway by 40% by 2030, 70% by 2040 and towards near-zero by 2050.

Commenting on Equinor’s announcement, Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, the group of green shareholders that has been requesting Paris-aligned targets for all oil majors since 2017, said: “After Shell in November 2017, Equinor is the second oil major that has responded to the investor support for the Follow This Climate Resolution.

“Equinor’s move shows once again that a small group of responsible shareholders drive change,” van Baal added.

“We thank all investors who voted for our climate resolution in May (12% of the non-government votes). It seems Equinor got the message loud and clear. These investors are the change agents of the oil industry.”

Among them were the majority of the ten largest Dutch investors and M&G and the Church of England in the UK.

While Follow This has welcomed Equinor’s announcement, van Baal warned that an ambition is not a target and halving emissions is still insufficient.

“With growing energy demand (approx. 40% according to many scenarios), this will result in a reduction of absolute emissions of approximately 30%. According to IPCC scenarios, Paris calls for an absolute reduction of 70% (2°C) to 100% (1.5°C),” he said.

“Nevertheless, today we applaud Elder Saetre’s jump over his own shadow and will encourage Equinor to set the second and third step tomorrow.”

By 2035, Equinor expects to increase installed renewable energy capacity further to 12-16 GW, depending on the availability of attractive project opportunities.