Elon Musk, Greta Thunberg, Rishi Sunak, Donald Trump — trees suddenly have an eclectic mix of fans, all drawn to the apparent simplicity of their carbon-locking power. Now Big Oil has joined the party, in a big way.
Over the past year, BP, Total, Eni, Equinor and ConocoPhillips have invested millions of dollars in forest projects to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Shell, in particular, has taken a lead, promising to spend $300 million on “natural ecosystems” as part of its market-leading net-zero emissions plan.
The recent surge in corporate pledges gives the impression that nature-based solutions (NBS) provide the key to a decarbonised future. But given oil companies’ status as some of the world’s largest emitters, and the industry’s long history of lobbying against climate action, Big Oil’s push for more trees has been met with scepticism.