Sample Essay on Climate Change

Introduction

Global warming, which is an outcome of climate change, has been a major contributor to the rise in temperatures on the physical systems of the planet. Additional effects of climate change include loss of biodiversity, floods, the prevalence of storms, and consequent economic losses (Trainer 29). Since 1967, different countries on the global platform have been experiencing intense rainfalls, frequents heat waves, and a rise in sea levels (IEA 10). This has a direct impact on the well-being of society and businesses. According to existing studies fluctuating climate change conditions have been considered as contributing factors to the high losses experienced by the insurance industry (IEA 10). One of the major solutions to the risks and opportunities posed by climate exchange is to develop approaches to adaptation. This is the only way through which different corporations and industries can manage the unavoidable effects of climate change (Kurtz 45). These adaptations will offer different industries an opportunity of improving on the strategies towards ensuring success in vulnerable business sectors in ways that support sustainable development (Bader 23).

The energy sector is one that faces numerous challenges in terms of the effects of climate change which affects the production of energy resources from drilling to the transportation process. BP PLC is a leading company in the energy sector considering the role it plays in the production of oil. The company has been a leader in advocating for the use of alternative and renewable energy resources to help reduce the effects of climate change (Livingstone 23).

The main objective of this report is to provide a critical review of the impact of climate change in terms of the risks and opportunities involved. The critical approach will be facilitated by an understanding of BP PLC and the role it plays in the energy sectors on matters related to climate change.

BP PLC, Company overview

BP is a British oils and gas company that engages in the process of production and transportation of energy resources. These include the provision of fuel for transportation, lubricants for engine parts, petrochemical products used in the making of paints clothes, and packaging. In addition, the company also provides energy that can be used for heat and lighting purposes (BP 2).

In terms of business, BP is interested in two major areas. These include the upstream which is responsible for the management of the company’s exploration, development and production initiatives. The downstream sector of the business is in charge of the operationalization of hydrocarbon value chains which cover different business areas such as fuels, lubricants, and petrochemicals (BP 5). The activities of the company on matters related to low carbon energy have been accomplished through the adoption of its Alternative Energy business initiatives. The company conducts its operations in more than 80 countries on the global platform (Bader 16).

The United States is the major area of focus for BP considering that it is the region’s largest investor. in terms of the production and supply of natural gas resources, BP has been leading considering that its primary areas of production are located in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, the US of Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas among other areas (Laherrere 111). In addition, the company also operates modern refineries in different areas such as Ohio. These refineries facilitate the production of a wide range of energy products such as petrochemicals, and lubricants to be used in the American road, rail, air, and sea transport sector (BP 8).

In terms of the use of renewable sources of energy, BP operates on an initiative dubbed Alternative Energy US Investments. This initiative comprises the wind fleets which are located in 16 operational wind farms within the United States.  These have been considered as initiatives that the company has been using to establish itself as a leading energy company in matters related to the risks and opportunities in matters of climate change (BP 9).

BP PLC: The risks and opportunities of climate change
The risks of climate change

Climate change is bound to affect the energy sector in matters related to the production, distribution, and demand for energy products from BP. the rise in sea levels for instance emanates from an increase in the temperatures of the planet. This facilitates the melting of icebergs. The rise in sea levels, therefore, affects the process of extracting oils and delivering them to the respective refineries (Trainer 35). BP Oil Company considers the US as a major source of revenue and market because of the availability of numerous oil and natural gas extraction areas (Laherrere 97). The Gulf of Mexico is an essential region in terms of energy infrastructure (BP 10). This infrastructure is threatened by unpredictable storms and weather patterns that have been facilitated by the rise in sea levels. In addition, the effects of such changes threaten the existence of the company in matters related to the production of oil due to frequent storms and the possibility of heatwaves. Inconsistencies in the production of energy resources are bound to affect the industry in terms of expensing and minting its market share, customer population, and profit margins (IEA 18)

The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere

The energy sectors and especially the use of fossil fuel energy have been accused of the emission of carbon IV Oxide into the atmosphere. This gas comprises greenhouse gasses whose emission is responsible for the rise in the temperature of the planet. Global warming contributes to among other climate change-related complications, heatwave (IEA 20). High levels of a heatwave can be considered a threat to the process of extracting oil from different resources (Trainer 56). Since its establishment and the beginning of its activities in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has been an active participant in the Deep-water horizon which facilitates the extraction of oil from the depths of the sea (Gramling 34). In 2010, the company experienced an explosion in its production plant in the sea, and this leads to the largest oils pill in history considering that about 200 million gallons of oil were lost in water (Gramling 38). This was considered as attest to the company on its ability to ensure that its operations do not exacerbate the prevailing effects of climate change and global warming (Gramling 38). The 87 days unregulated oil spill was responsible for the destruction of the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. This is because hundreds of marine life were destroyed. This affected the operations of other industries such as tourism and agriculture (Gramling 38).

The production and the use of fossil fuels threaten the existence of population in different areas of the world considering that it contributes to the development of breathing complications and the development of chronic diseases. These effects are considered risky due to the treatment they poise on the lives of individuals (IEA 21). The motor vehicle industry which derives fossil fuel energy from companies such as BP is one of the leading sources of carbon IV Oxide which is a byproduct of burning fuel. the risk posed by these companies requires the intervention of numerous energy companies to devise the possible techniques that can be used in the reduction of carbon emissions and the production of carbon-free energy resources (Kunstler 22).

The price of oil

Climate change which is a major contributor to the effects of global warming is not only a threat to the environment but also to different development initiatives, the emission of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuel energy is a threat to every segment of society. Oil companies such as BP are responsible for the production of about 43% of all energy that is used in the operation of different machinery (Trainer 59).  Oil is responsible for about 40% of global warming emissions. The United States due to its industrialization initiatives accounts for a large percentage of energy emissions. Companies such as BP which are major extractors of oils are perceived to be responsible for the emissions (Bader 33). This is an indication that a large percentage of fossil fuel emissions happen in developed countries. These countries possess the machinery and resources that can facilitate their ability to adapt to climate change-related complications. BP for instance has been active in the development of strategies that can help in mitigating the effects of climate change (Kunstler 34). The risk involved in climate change-related complications is that the poor countries especially those in Africa and the Caribbean cannot afford to adapt to climate change effects. This means that they suffer first and the worst effects of these climatic conditions (Bader 26). The activities of BP and other oils companies are therefore responsible for third-party effects at which are associated with the production of oil resources. An increase in emissions, rise in sea levels, frequents droughts, and floods affect other sectors of the economy such as agriculture which is an essential source of food, livelihood, and employment for the people in less developed countries (Livingstone 41).

The effects of climate change affect the production and the distribution of different oil products considering that the processes require the investment of additional resources in the energy sector. The decision by BP to secure the Gulf of Mexico from frequent storms and the rise of sea levels requires the company to invest more financial and human capital in the realization of the changes (Gramling 40). The use of additional resources is meant to be spread in the process allocated when selling energy products to the customers. This is an indication that as climate change effects continue to affect the production and transportation of energy resources, it is possible that the prices of oil will continue increasing making it less affordable to different customers of BP oil. This will in turn affect the speed of development initiatives in different areas of the economy (Laherrere 66).

Water shortage and the production of energy

Water is an important resource in the production of most fuels for BP in the extraction of natural gas (Laherrere 80). However, the effects of climate change have been considered a threat to the wellbeing of this resource. This is because climate change and the rise in global temperatures increase the evaporation rate of the available water resources (Trainer 45). This is an indication of a looming water shortage hence interference with the production of natural gas which has been considered as an alternative source of fuel considering the limited harm it causes to the environment in terms of emission of fossil fuel energy (Laherrere 76). Water shortage and the shortage of natural gas will not only increase the prices of this source of energy, but it also threatens to make fossil fuel energy the readily available source of energy despite the perceive thereat that this resource has on the environment. The shortage of water threatens the production of essential energy resources considering that water and sand comprise about 99% of the materials injected in hydraulic fracturing. In addition to water and sand, some chemicals are used to facilitate the process of fracturing making the water relatively contaminated. Contaminated water cannot be used in future fracturing and this makes it important to initiate processes that can facilitate the conservation of water from the effects of climate change due to the pivotal role that it plays in the extraction process (Livingstone 55).

Land use and the risk of climate change

As a company that is responsible for the production of petroleum products, BP has the responsibility of establishing oil refineries, and storage facilities for its products. This means that large tracks of land must be cleared to facilitate the activities of the company. The construction of these facilities requires the company to clear large tracks of forest lands for the construction of its facilities (Trainer 56). This exposes the land to the effects of climate change due to the absence of trees that could be used in the extraction of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (Kurtz 40). The use of land in the development of industries, therefore, exposes the world to a plethora of climate change effects due to the replacement of vegetation with fossil fuel energy plants that are considered to be major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere (Bader 48).

Climate change opportunities

BP is one of the oil companies that have the highest-profile on issues related to climate change. This company has been accused of acknowledging that climate change exists but has continuously failed in its ability to institute measures towards identifying the most appropriate techniques that can be used in addressing these complications (Kunstler 30). In addition, the company has also been accused of seeking more oil and natural gas reserves yet the reserves that already exist are enough to exacerbate the prevailing climate change conditions (Laherrere 60). BP has also been accused of playing a leading role in increasing its extraction rates by 7%. An increase in the extraction process increases the probability that the company will still be a major contributor to the existing complications on matters related to the effects of climate change. this explains why different governments, especially those in the United States and the European countries have been required to introduce measures that can help in the identification of opportunities that facilitate the process of adapting to the effects of climate change (Bader 55).

Strategies developed by BP to adapt to climate change effects

Since the oil spill of 2010, BP has been an advocate of the protection of the environment. For instance, through the Restoring the Environment strategy, the company has been working together with federal and state agencies within the United States to restore resources that were destroyed or injured by the oil spill (Trainer 60). This strategy was developed on the basis of the understanding that the environment is the most essential aspect of any ecosystem and its destruction affects the wellbeing of different organisms in ecology (Kunstler 38). The ability of the company to cooperate with different agencies has enabled it to employ the use of the national resource damage assessments (NRDA) for the collection of data and the evaluation of the possible harm that its activities have caused to different wildlife and marine creatures. In addition, the company has also been able to used NRDA in assessing the extent of damages resulting from climate change. This form of assessment provides the company with essential information which forms the basis of any strategy aimed at environmental restoration (Kunstler pp. 37-44).

The main objective of Restoring the Environment strategy is to provide the company with an approach through which natural habitat can regain their physical features prior to the effects of climate change and the oil spill. In addition, the protection of the environment has been considered as part of the company’s social responsibility (Korpela 125). This responsibility emanates from the understanding that BP is a major contributor to the destruction of the environment through the production of fossil fuel energy that is a major source of carbon in the environment. The restoration process has also been facilitated by the ability of BP to fund different restoration projects aimed at assessing and addressing the challenges associated with the destruction of the environment (Kunstler 46).

Despite the threat that fossil fuel energy poses to the environment, it has been considered an essential resource in the promotion of different developmental initiatives and the provision of employment opportunities. An adaptation measure that BP has continued to use in its operations is the introduction of techniques that focus on the possibility of increasing resistance to impact by building and marinating barriers that can facilitate the protection of the coastal energy infrastructure. For example, BP has been able to fortify offshore oil platforms and coastal facilities (Green et al 621). This was an initiative aimed at ensuring that the facilities were more resilient to unpredictable storms, rising sea levels, wave actions, and flooding. In addition, the company is in the process of developing long-term initiatives that can facilitate the development of new infrastructure in less vulnerable areas (Korpela 116). These initiatives help in protecting already established infrastructure for any form of damage by the effects of climate change hence reducing the amounts of losses that the company may experience. In addition, it is also a technique that the company uses to protect its human workforce in offshore platforms from the threats of climate change-related complications (IPCC 30).

BP PLC has been engaged in a series of climate change assessment initiatives that are aimed at understanding the potential cost of continuing with their operations in the Gulf of Mexico following the effect of Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill of 2010 (Gramling 20). This explains why the company has been able to relocate its essential business centers inland. This is aimed at protecting essential facilities from possible destruction by storms (Kurtz 56). In one of the studies, Building a Resilient Energy Gulf Coast, the company was able to quantify and identify available options in the management of the risks associated with climate change. Based on this study BP PLC is in the process of developing the most appropriate strategies that can facilitate the development of greater resilience in its assets and operations offshore and inland (Trainer 77).  

The future of the global energy industry is highly dependent on the ability of the industry to acknowledge that human efforts are the leading contributors to induced global change (Maddison 35). According to BP PLC, it is also through corrective measures of human efforts that the company can embrace efforts aimed at mitigating carbon emissions by ensuring the delivery of more natural gas to displace coal and oil which are the leading products in the generation of electric energy (Gramling 44). BP acknowledges that the explosion at the Gulf of Mexico, it became part of the problem of climate change. In addition, the company also realizes its role as part of the solution to these problems. One of the ways through which BP is working towards developing lasting solutions to the problems of climate change is by integrating the efforts of other companies within the industry to ensure the development of an industry-wide message on the possible strategies that can be used in the reduction of carbon emissions (Gramling 56). The role of BP and other companies within the industry is to fight climate change while generating shareholder values (Livingstone 60). This would mean that instead of practicing altruism, the companies have the responsibility of engaging in entrepreneurial initiatives which are often characterized by the ability to identify problems such as climate change, identify their roles as contributors, and the development of lasting solutions aimed at benefiting the company, its consumers and the environment (Green et al 622).

The process of realizing the interests and demands of the shareholders requires BP to improve on its ability to make profits. The oil industry provides high profit levels for the company due to the level of demand for this resource on the global platform. Despite this profitability, BP also realizes that oil is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (Green et al 621). This explains why the company is in the process of investing its resources in drilling more natural gas resources off Africa, Southeast Asia, the USA, and Latin America. The main approach that the company considered using was cheap American gas as a source of alternative energy (Trainer 45). This will be made possible by liquefying the gas for delivery in different power plants within the US and in the external markets. In addition, the need to consider alternative and renewable sources of energy would require BP to contrast more liquid natural gas (LNG) plants to accommodate the potential demand for the product. Despite numerous expenses involved in the development of more infrastructures, the company considered LNG as a profit-making and environmentally safe source of energy (EIA 20).

Other than the use of natural gas, BP oils have also been a contributor to the use of alternative and renewable sources of energy by establishing wind farms. These firms engage the use of windmills to trap energy from the wind (Green et al 623). This energy is easily converted to provide the necessary energy in the generation of electric power and powering powerful engines (Prieto 46). The ability of the company to establish about 16 wind farms in the United States is an indication of the company’s dedication towards seeking alternative solutions to fossil fuel energy. In addition, the developments of the necessary infrastructure such as wind plants have been considered relatively expensive but profitable in the long term (Prieto 47). There are also disadvantages associated with wind farms especially those with regard to noise pollution and the development of different diseases among the human population. Furthermore, wind farms have also been accused of environmental destruction due to vast areas of land needed in their institutionalization (Prieto 49). These complications are further exacerbated by the need to clear vexation when developing these farms. Inasmuch as wind farms do not produce greenhouse gases, their presence destroys vegetation which is crucial for the maintenance of some gaseous balance in the atmosphere (Prieto 50).

Research and development initiatives by BP on climate change

Research and development have been considered as a major contributor to the solutions of BP and its ability to adapt to climate change. One of the main areas of research has been the possibility of developing fuel energy with low carbon content (EIA 22). Through its research initiative, the company has considered natural gas as a possible alternative to fossil fuel energy due to its ability to produce limited CO2 (Livingstone 87). This explains why BP is in the process of developing different supply chains to Europe, China, and India. China and India are of interest to BP due to their industrialization initiative which provides reason to believe that they will account for more than half in terms of the growth of global energy demand by 2020  (Green et al 623).

Other than natural gas, the company is also in the process of investing in low-cost and low-carbon biofuel energy. These forms of energy have been considered beneficial to the interests of the company, the consumer, and the society because they are financially self–sustaining (EIA 27).  For example, in 2014, the company was able to double the capacity of its sugarcane plant in Brazil and the development of its 16 wind farms. These have been instrumental in the production of about 2,600 megawatts of electric power. Research and development initiatives are therefore improving the ability of the company to diversify its production processes by embracing low carbon energy sources (Livingstone 90).

Research and development in BP have also been considered as an approach through which the company assesses the possibility of assessing, prioritizing, and implementing technologies and systems that could ensure an improvement in the use of energy. Through its research initiative, the company has been able to measure its performance in terms of energy use through the Solomon Energy Index (EII) (Green et al 625). This is an industry measure that standardizes energy efficiencies. BP ensures that all its refineries are manipulated in ways that facilitate the tracking of progress in accordance with the targets of EEI. The company’s efficacy in terms of operations and products has facilitated its ability to provide increasingly energy-efficient and products with high performance to the consumers (Kunstler 30). For instance, the Castrol EDGE which is produced through the Titanium Fluid Strength Technology alters the behavior of engine oil when operating under extreme pressure (IPCC 20). This product reduces friction by about 15% to achieve more effective use of fuel energy and engine oils. The efficient use of these forms of energy increases the possibility of complete combustion of fossil fuel energy hence a reduction in the percentage of carbon released into the atmosphere. The company has been able to work with different car manufacturers such as Ford (Korpela 120). The ECOnetic cars from Ford such as the Focus Models have been designed and engineered with advanced and specially formulated Castrol engine oils. These forms of design and engineering techniques have been essential in the improvement of fossil fuel efficiency and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases (Korpela 120).

The emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 into the atmosphere is a major cause of climate change and global warming. This means that it is the responsibility of energy companies such as BP to factor a carbon cost in their investments (EIA 26). The process of factoring in the carbon cost in the investment of BP is coupled with the ability of the company’s engineers to ensure that the design of new large projects has the emission cost as part of the design of the project. In countries such as the US, carbon cost is often at $40 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted (Green et al 625). BP uses this cost as the basis of conducting assessments on the economic value of any investment initiative (Kunstler 36). This approach to investments is beneficial to the well-being of society considering that it optimizes the design and engineering of a project with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. This is also a way through which different environmental bodies within the energy sector institute measures that regulate carbon emissions into the atmosphere hence reducing the effects of climate change (EIA 27).

Other than the institutionalization of strategies as part of research and development initiatives, the company uses specialized climate approaches that are developed by Princeton and the Imperial College. These models are considered beneficial especially while predicting the probable climate change effects that are relevant to the operations of the company (IPCC 22). In addition, through these models, the company is often able to establish and develop a better understanding of the possible effects of extreme weather patterns on its future and current business initiatives (Livingstone 100). This is considered beneficial to the well-being of the company since it is able to address potential climate change effects on any new project from its design phase. The climate models also provide the company with the necessary guidance for the existing operations and projects especially while assessing the probable risks and impacts. This also enables the development and incorporation of mitigation steps into project planning, project design, and operationalization of projects (Korpela 101).

An additional role of research and development in assessing the techniques that are essential in identifying the opportunities available for climate change adaptation is the use of the most effective technological innovations (Green et al 626). This is based on the understanding that technological innovations can be important in the development of techniques that enhance more efficient production and use of fossil fuel energy. Technological innovation also helps the company in the development of procedures that deepen the understanding of its personnel on matters related to the production and use of energy sources (Pinkse 24).

Trends in climate change also inform the technological innovations that are necessary to facilitate the operation of the company while minimizing the possible effects of the prevailing climatic conditions (Green et al 626). The essence of technological innovations to BP can be used to explaining why the company is currently engaged in a process of hiring staff that is highly skilled and creative in the manipulation of the available technological devices (IPCC 16). In addition, the company is also in the process of training and retraining its staff on matters related to the use of technology to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (Livingstone 103).

Conclusion

The energy industry is one that contributes to the availability of different forms of fuels that are used in the operationalization of machinery that is essential for the growth and development of economies. the use of fossil fuel energy from companies such as BP PLC is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which affectt5eh the wellbeing of the company in terms of its ability to engage in effective production and supply of fossil fuel energy sources. BP has been putting initiatives to help in mitigating the effects and risks of climate change on its operations. This has been through research and development objectives on the use of alternative and renewable energy. In addition, the company has also been instrumental in using technological innovations to help mitigate carbon emissions and improve on efficient use of fossil fuels.

Recommendation

There is need for more research initiatives on the ability of the company to eradicate the production and supply of fossil fuel energy and in turn engage in the production of alternative and renewable energy such as solar, natural gas, biofuels, and wind power. It is also important for the company to engage in different global and regional treaties aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. This is due to the realization that BP Company is an important player and contributor to the levels of carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

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