It is a day we never thought we’d see: certain oil companies have taken a step – however small – in the right direction for the environment.

The pipeline giant, Enbridge Inc., started investing in wind farms some time ago, and they have recently added to their offshore wind portfolio by investing an extra 218 million USD in DONG Energy A/S.

ExxonMobil made a similarly green move by partnering with FuelCell Energy to invest in a new fuel cell technology, to be used in large power plants, that will be able to simultaneously capture carbon and generate energy.

Finally, Engie SA recently bought 80% of Green Charge Networks LLC., an energy storage company.

Admittedly, this is still a drop in the bucket compared to the size of these companies’ fossil fuel-centric activities; while Enbridge impressed some environmentalists with its $218 million wind investment, it may have forgotten to mention that this represents less than 1% of its 2015 revenues.

So why the sudden change of heart? With the recent lows and high volatility of oil and natural gas prices, it is highly possible that big energy companies are seeing the folly in relying on fossil fuels. The world is changing and fossil fuels are being phased out, so the act of depending solely on non-renewables could soon be a death sentence for these companies. Even as oil prices slowly recover, the message from citizens all over the world is clear: clean energy is the future, which makes green investing the smarter choice.

The targets set during COP 21 in Paris don’t leave much room for big polluters, which is why more and more world leaders, top business executives and investors are making commitments to transition to a green economy or divest from fossil fuels. Big oil is basically just grabbing onto the coattails of other economic leaders and shouting “Look at me! I can be green too!”

Are these low-carbon investments by fossil fuel giants just token actions made to placate consumers in an increasingly environmentally-conscious society? Maybe. But either way, the shift is necessary, and other companies will have to catch on soon or risk being left behind.


Tags: big oil, climate change, divestment, clean energy economy, green bonds