Palm tree view at sea

Climate change

We accept that there is a growing global consensus that the supply of hydrocarbons to meet energy demand is leading to an increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs), which in turn is contributing to climate change. However, we also believe that until reliable alternatives are found to power a low-carbon economy, the use of gas and oil remains essential for economic and social progress.

Our approach to climate change

Our oil and gas exploration and production activities are carbon intensive, and we are improving our approach to climate change in light of current external developments and our updated Business Principles. Our approach to climate change continues to include:

  • GHGs measuring and reporting;
  • due consideration for climate change risks and opportunities associated with all our projects;
  • promoting efficient use of energy in our activities and, wherever possible, including efficient and timely completion of projects;
  • integrating climate change considerations and potential costs into investment decisions;
  • stakeholder engagement, for example, through participating in industry associations, on mitigation and adaptation to climate change measures; and
  • contribution to local programmes that address environmental and social impacts within our sphere of control and reasonable influence.

Our emissions

GHGs form a part of our operational environmental footprint. We monitor and manage the GHGs emitted during our activities and disclose them in accordance with industry requirements and standards. In 2015, we updated our methodology for calculating Scope 2 emissions in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 guidance, issued in January 2015 (see Air emissions). Our reporting methodologies can be found in Reporting Guidelines for 2015 Key Performance Indicators.

We disclose on an ‘operational control’ basis, which means we report emissions from those assets that are operated by us and not those controlled by our partners. With no operated production facilities, our direct GHG emissions occur primarily from the combustion of fuel on rigs and vessels during the drilling of wells or acquisition of seismic.

Our GHG emissions over five years shows that they are heavily dependent on the level of operational activity in any given period. Our emissions levels in absolute terms vary with the length of operations and operational requirements, which is often also influenced by safety considerations (e.g. vessel or rig selection to meet specific operational requirements).

The varying levels of operational activity make it very difficult to identify a baseline and set targets for total GHG reduction over time.

Our GHG emissions intensity is calculated per thousand hours worked, as this provides a direct relationship with our activity. Factors, such as the nature of the work in hand (i.e. drilling or seismic survey), environmental conditions and distances between operations and logistic support bases, have further significant influences on the intensity of GHG emissions. We strive to reduce the footprint of our activities by operating efficiently and quickly but not to the detriment of safety.

The quantity of GHG emissions from our activities has reduced in 2015 from 2014 due to reduced levels of operational activity. GHG intensity levels in 2015 are similar to those achieved in 2014.

At the end of 2015, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 21) took place in Paris. The resulting agreement required countries to work within their action plans to limit global GHG emissions and review these every five years from 2020. While we will assess the implications of the agreement to our business more fully in 2016, we expect that emissions management and controls will become increasingly important to any future production.

Total absolute and normalised GHG emissions (Scopes 1, 2 and 3)

A line graph and bar chart showing Cairn's total absolute and normalised GHG emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) between 2010 and 2014

See performance data Air emissions.

Download PDF

Create a PDF of this section to take away.

Download PDF