How the Private and Public Sectors Can Decarbonize the Energy Sector

Decarbonizing the energy sector is an important part of addressing climate change on a global scale. Here’s how industry and government leaders believe we can do this.


Air Date: January 24, 2022

Moderator: Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President, International Development, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Turkey, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Martin Durbin, Senior Vice President, Policy

Featured Guests: His Excellency Tarek El Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Arab Republic of Egypt, John Christmann, Chairman, U.S.-Egypt Business Council, Lorenzo Simonelli, Chairman, President & CEO, Baker Hughes

For years, climate change experts have pushed for a reduction in carbon emissions. That push is becoming even more urgent as the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects worldwide carbon emissions will increase between now and 2050.

There are steps both private and public sectors can take to address climate change, including reducing carbon emissions in the production of energy. On Day 1 of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Building Momentum to UN COP27 forum, industry experts and government leaders shared strategies for decarbonizing the energy sector.

Companies Should Set Short-Term Energy Goals to See Progress In Longer-Term Goals

John Christmann, chairman of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council and CEO and president of Apache Corporation, noted his company has operated in Egypt for over two decades and is now the largest U.S. investor and largest producer of oil in the country.

“Our core competency is finding oil and gas and producing it as efficiently as possible,” said Christmann. “We want to be a leader in ESG, and so we've taken an approach of setting aggressive short-term targets because those are things that are within our control that we can deliver on.”

Setting shorter-term goals promote more intentional progress toward those longer-term goals. For example, Christmann noted, last year, Apache set a goal to eliminate routine flaring by the end of 2021, rather than setting the end date in 2025 or 2030.

“It really helped us reduce our methane intensity in the U.S. … where it's now less than 1%,” he said. “So [it was] a great goal, we achieved it early, and we think we can continue to now take that and integrate our strategy into what we're doing in Egypt.”

“We're a big believer in, ‘It's going to take everything and it's a collaboration,' and we're looking forward to doing our part in continuing to set short-term goals … that are going to make an impact,” he added.

Organizations Should Leverage Technologies That Help Reduce Methane Emissions

Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman, president and CEO of Baker Hughes, stressed the importance of finding the emissions content of hydrocarbons.

“As you all know, methane is a key aspect of emissions relative to climate change,” he said. ”There's technology available today that reduces the impact of methane.”

For instance, Simonelli’s company, Baker Hughes, uses its flare.IQ technology in both the U.S. and Egypt, as well as zero-bleed valves, to help reduce methane slip emissions.

“Many know that methane is admitted through valves, and we have new technologies that allow it to have zero-bleed positioners that really take the high-pressure gas direct from the pipeline so that you no longer actually have the emissions taking place,” he said.

“Technology is not going to be the aspect that's going to stop us; it's going to be how we make sure that there [are] the right policies and also the right [entities] working together across both the areas that are developing and the areas that already developed,” he said.

Experts Must Push for Energy that’s Secure, Affordable, and Highly Accessible

Simonelli noted we’re currently living in a time that requires both high energy security and affordable sustainable energy.

“There has to be ... a pragmatic approach,” he said. “The role that Egypt and other developing nations play is … showcasing the way in which we can move to a lower emissions environment without fuel type.”

He added it’s not so much the fuel, but rather how we abate the emissions associated with the fuels.

“We're big believers in natural gas,” he continued. “We think what you've seen in Europe and also the U.S. and the reductions in emissions is thanks to the move from coal to gas. We think that renewables alone [are] not the solution for Africa … [rather] the high demand they will need from an energy consumption perspective and also to make it affordable.”