Fossil fuels are expected to be a major source of energy consumption in all scenarios projected by the International Energy Agency. Meeting the challenge of taking action on climate change concerns while providing adequate, affordable supplies of reliable energy will require financial investments, skilled people, technical innovation and responsible stewardship from policy makers, energy producers and consumers.
Increasing the use of natural gas in the energy mix is the fastest and most economical path to significantly reducing U.S. GHG emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). In 2019, we supplied consumers with approximately 1 trillion cubic feet (or 2.8 billion cubic feet per day) of natural gas. To put this in perspective, if all the natural gas ConocoPhillips produced in 2019 had been used to replace coal for electricity generation, GHG emissions would have been reduced by approximately 52 million metric tons. This is equivalent to the annual GHG emissions from over 11,200,000 passenger vehicles. In addition to reduced air emissions, natural gas has other environmental benefits that make it a smart fuel choice. Natural gas-fired power plants use about 60% less water than coal plants and 75% less water than nuclear power plants for the same electricity output.
Addressing climate change concerns is a significant topic of discussion both globally and at ConocoPhillips. Governments — federal, state/provincial and local — will likely continue to act on the issue of global climate change over the months and years ahead. We believe that we must play a constructive role in public policy discussions to ensure that approaches to reduce GHG emissions and to address the impacts of climate change are practical, equitable and cost effective. Our success in a low carbon economy relies on this collaboration.
We recognize that human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, is contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere that can lead to adverse changes in global climate. In 2020 we developed a climate risk strategy that sets an ambition to reduce our operational GHG emissions to net-zero by 2050. We also substantially revised our target to reduce our GHG emissions intensity by 35 to 45% by 2030 compared to our previous target of 5 to 15%. In addition, we endorsed the World Bank Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative with an aim to achieve it by 2025 and set a target to reduce methane emissions intensity to 2.7 kilograms methane CO2e/BOE (equivalent to 0.23% of natural gas produced) by 2025. These targets inform internal climate goals at the business level and support innovation on efficiency and emissions reduction, GHG regulatory risk mitigation and climate-related risk management throughout the lifecycle of our assets.
External engagement is important to understanding the issues and challenges relating to climate and the evolution of policy development. Read more about ConocoPhillips’ current efforts here.
We are a Founding Member of the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), an international policy institute founded in collaboration with business and environmental interests to develop a carbon dividend plan. Participation in the CLC provides another opportunity for ongoing dialogue about carbon pricing and framing the issues in alignment with our principles. We have clear policy principles and a long history of engaging with external stakeholders in support of pragmatic policy.
Specifically, ConocoPhillips supports a carbon dividend solution known as the Baker-Shultz Plan, contingent on four interdependent pillars. Read more here.