Burning gas and coal is wreaking havoc on our climate, fuelling more extreme weather disasters. 

Our big backyard is at breaking point. Scorching heat. Catastrophic bushfires. Dangerous flooding. Wildlife and communities having no time to recover before the next disaster strikes. This is climate destruction, fuelled by gas and coal companies, and it’s getting worse. Woodside Energy is Australia’s largest oil and gas producer and consequently one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas climate pollution in in Australia. 

Like many of Australia’s largest emitters, Woodside has voiced its intentions to reach net-zero scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050. Our team did some digging to uncover just how robust these ‘intentions’ are and whether the company’s actions are aligned with its aspiration. Let’s take a look.

The United Nations has published ten recommendations that can be used to assess the integrity of a company’s net zero commitment. We assessed Woodside against these recommendations and found that the company is failing on almost every measure.  


A robust net-zero pledge vs. Woodside’s aspiration 

The recommendations are clear that a robust net-zero pledge cannot include: 

  • Continued investment in new fossil fuel supply.  
  • The use of offsets to meet interim targets and in place of immediate emissions reduction. 
  • Failure to address scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.  
  • Lobbying to undermine ambitious government climate policies. 

Woodside’s net-zero aspiration: 

  • Continues to invest in exploration for new oil and gas reserves and the development of new and expanded oil and gas projects.  
  • Uses offsets to claim emissions reductions while real-world emissions continue to rise.  
  • Ignores 92% of its total climate impact, by excluding their scope 3 emissions. 
  • Actively engages with climate-related policy in a manner that is contradictory to its net-zero aspiration. 

If this was a report card, Woodside would be failing. Net-zero commitments which are not backed by a robust strategy and action must be seen for what they are greenwashing. Greenwashing is disinformation spread by an organisation trying to present themselves as environmentally responsible. Net-zero greenwashing risks humanity’s ability to tackle climate change by delaying concrete and credible action. 


Australian gas plant. Photo: Jason Benz Bennee/Shutterstock

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions 

Woodside’s gross scope 1 and 2 emissions increased by 3% in 2022 compared to its baseline average emissions from 2016-2020. Despite this, Woodside claims that it has reduced its net scope 1 and 2 emissions by 11% over the same period by using carbon credits to offset emissions.  

The United Nations has clearly stated that carbon credits must not be used to offset emissions to achieve short-term reduction targets on a net-zero pathway.  

While offsets can help balance emissions, they do not directly eliminate the emissions generated by the mining and burning of fossil fuels.  

Now we arrive at the elephant in the room – the fact that Woodside is ignoring a staggering 92% of its total climate impact, by excluding their scope 3 emissions. 

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are emissions that arise from sources that are owned and controlled by Woodside, such as gas extraction facilities, or company-owned vehicles. Yet the overwhelming majority of Woodside's emissions, being their Scope 3 emissions, come from the burning of their main product: the oil and gas they drill. 

So, by ignoring scope 3 emissions, Woodside are conveniently wiping their hands clean of 92% of their emissions which allows the company’s reduction activities to appear more ambitious. 


Source: Woodside 2022 Climate Report

We are in the critical decade for climate action, and it is vital that companies like Woodside take immediate action to achieve deep and permanent cuts in emissions. 

Currently, Woodside’s actions do not align with their public-facing aspiration.

The greatest achievement of Woodside’s net-zero aspiration has been its potential to hoodwink communities, governments and investors, while the company blatantly pursues activities that undermine it.  

Read more about how Woodside and gas giant Santos are fuelling extreme weather.

Holding Woodside to account 

Through your retirement savings, you have the power to challenge Woodside. This is because of the supersized shares Australian superannuation funds hold in every major company on the share market which gives them a supersized say in how they operate. And with Woodside’s Annual General Meeting coming up in April, right now we have a critical opportunity for big change. 

Let’s urge our funds to pressure Woodside and its board of directors to evaluate their actions and adopt a more comprehensive, accountable, and credible strategy which is aligned with what the science says is needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.  

Sign the open letter 

Header image. Gas ship in Western Australia. Photo: Franklin64/Shutterstock.com

Audrey van Herwaarden

Corporate Analyst, ACF