BP Plc has been a laggard in the race among oil and gas majors to reposition themselves in the battle against climate change. Now Bernard Looney, its new CEO, is living up to his promises to be bold.

BP, Looney has declared, will become a “net zero carbon” company by 2050 or sooner—that is, its own operations will produce no net CO₂ emissions. The group will also cut by half the amount of carbon in the products it sells by the same date.

For a company that traces its roots to the first oil fields in Iran more than a century ago, this is a radical departure.

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