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Big Oil becomes greener with cuts to greenhouse gas pollution: report

[LONDON] It's no secret that oil majors are among the biggest corporate emitters of pollution. What may be surprising is that they're reducing their greenhouse-gas footprints every year, actively participating in a trend that's swept up most corporate behemoths.

Sixty-two of the world's 100 largest companies consistently cut their emissions on an annual basis between 2010 and 2015, with an overall 12 per cent decline during that period, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released ahead of its conference in London on Monday.

The findings suggest the most polluting industries had started fighting climate change before US President Donald Trump took office and signalled he'd back out of US participation in the Paris accord on limiting fossil fuel emissions.

Now, as European officials say the White House may water down its commitment to Paris instead of scrapping the deal, the BNEF report suggests industry is scaling back the emissions.

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"This is a reflection of growing pressure from shareholders, investor groups and civil society for more disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as setting reduction targets," said Laura McIntyre-Brown, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the author of the report.

"There's also an evident trend of increased emissions disclosure among many of the biggest companies."

The five biggest oil companies - Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Chevron Corp, BP plc and Total SA - collectively curbed their pollution by an average of 13 per cent between 2010 and 2015, the report said. BP cut the most at 25.5 per cent. Exxon, the largest emitter among listed companies, pushed it down by 14 per cent.

The report shows a reverse from previous decades, when scientific warnings about climate change were new and the companies behind the most emissions lobbied policymakers to ignore the issue. As mega-storms such as Hurricane Irma this year and Sandy in 2012 raised consciousness about the issue, companies even in the oil business have taken steps to rein in pollution and associate themselves with the green agenda.