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The Company They Keep: Barclays Energy-Power conference reiterates fossil fuel addiction

Barclays claim to believe they "should take a leading role in tackling climate change and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy [...] the financing we do for our clients, in every sector, will support the goal of limiting global warming." And yet, last week Barclays hosted an online CEO Energy-Power Conference enabling fossil fuel producers and processors to showcase to investors, outlining plans to help ensure that by 2040, the world is burning almost as much oil and gas as it does today. Take a look at some quotes to get a feel of the conference.

18 discoveries in Guyana have delivered gross recoverable resources of >8BBOE; with multi billion barrels of exploration potential remaining. 

Hess Corporation

"[Guyana & Surinama are] Bright spot for both exploration and development opportunities for many years"

Noble Corporation

"This is a very long life field. I'm convinced that if we do nothing it's gonna be here for another 15 to 20 years."

W&T Offshore, Inc.

"We continue to accelerate our investment and are currently developing 75 basin-specific technologies which elevate customers’ performance and competitiveness."

Schlumberger

As well as helping them showcase, Barclays chips in to encourage more oil and gas investment, with remarks like "Over the next 5 years, we estimate digital initiatives can lower the cost of production by more than $3 per barrel, offering producers improved returns" and "offshore drilling markets are starting to recover, fuelling increased confidence in growth in capital equipment, drilling rigs and offshore services over the next several years".

Driving investment into oil and gas is the very opposite of accelerating the "transition to a low-carbon economy" - and yet conference attendees were supposed to discuss "how #sustainability and #energy aren't mutually exclusive". How can that possibly make sense?

Part of the phoney rationale for claiming that investing in fossil fuels will move us away from them derives from the World Energy Outlook 2019 analysis produced by the less-than-impartial IEA (International Energy Agency) - mainly concerned with ensuring countries have at least 3 months' oil supply stockpiled at all times, and that oil supplies worldwide are not disrupted. That analysis includes a so-called Sustainable Development Scenario, which in reality is anything but; it leaves only a 50% chance of a temperature rise below 1.65°C by 2050, and even that gamble between "disastrous" and "catastrophic" depends on vast deployments of unproven or non-existent carbon capture technology. But because it comes from the IEA, it is routinely used by the fossil fuel industry and its allies to justify ever more extraction. (If you want to know more about just how bad the IEA is, try this fun quiz .)

So, clutching its plans to make billions of dollars while devastating the planet, the fossil fuel industry dons a cloak of respectability tailored by the IEA, and Barclays sets up a catwalk for it to be paraded down. You don't have to be Aesop to again conclude that Barclays' environmental position is senseless, short-term profiteering greenwash.