By Adriano Marchese and David Hodari
LONDON -- BP PLC said it would aim to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and restructure its oil-focused businesses to better navigate a transition to other fuels -- a dramatic pledge by one of the world's biggest oil companies as the industry faces growing investor and consumer pressure over fossil fuels.
The promise is the latest in a series of commitments, over decades, by big oil companies to reduce emissions associated with their operations. Those efforts have had mixed results. BP, for a time more than a decade ago, rebranded itself "Beyond Petroleum" and committed to ramping up production of renewable energy, like solar and wind, before abandoning that effort.
Amid recently heightened scrutiny over global warming, however, investors and consumers have ratcheted up pressure on big companies to reduce the environmental toll of their businesses. Many big institutional investors have asked companies to make reducing emissions a priority -- threatening to pull investments in some cases.
The 2050 deadline represents the time at which BP, one of a handful of oil supermajors, hopes to be net carbon "neutral." At that point, it says, carbon emissions from its oil and natural gas operations would be completely offset by reductions from more-efficient production and carbon "removal" and "sink" efforts. A carbon sink typically refers to a natural reservoir, such as a forest, that can absorb carbon.
BP didn't say what specific technology it was counting on to achieve these reductions. It also didn't commit to any new investment. BP said it currently emits about 55 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.
It said it would strive to reduce the carbon intensity of its oil and gas production by 50% by 2050 or sooner. It promised to install new methane-measurement technology at its facilities to halve their methane intensity by 2023.
BP also promised to boost investment in non-oil-and-gas businesses, and reorganize the company into four divisions that would help it reach these goals. A "production and operations" division would strive to unite all operations under one roof. It would also create a natural "gas and low carbon energy" unit, which would focus on developing gas and low-carbon solutions, including hydrogen power.
In 2019, the company began expanding its low-carbon business, increasing ownership in its solar joint venture, Lightsource BP, to 50%, as well as completing the formation of its new Brazilian biofuels and biopower joint venture, BP Bunge Bioenergia.
"It is clear to me, and to our stakeholders, that for BP to play our part and serve our purpose, we have to change," Chief Executive Bernard Looney said. Mr. Looney, who took the top job earlier this month, was expected to detail his plan later Wednesday.
Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com