“Our mandate is to provide reliable and affordable energy — safely. We do that every day, all year long. But we recognize that we must also continue to be a leader in combating climate change,” Thomas Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the change.
The new goal is in line with a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that found emissions of the most abundant greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, would need to be reduced to net zero by 2050 to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), an aim of the 2015 landmark Paris climate change accord.
Dominion had previously committed to cutting methane emissions from its natural gas operations by 50% between 2010 and 2030 and carbon emissions from its power generating facilities by 80% between 2005 and 2050.
A growing number of investor-owned utilities, cities and states are making greenhouse gas-reduction pledges of similar ambition, said Amanda Levin, a policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
With Tuesday's pledge, Dominion joined 12 other investor-owned utilities that have pledged to go 100% clean or reach net zero carbon emissions — meaning any emissions are offset by reduction measures — by 2050 or sooner, Levin said.
Dominion said it would achieve the goal through extending the licenses of its nuclear generation fleet, promoting energy efficiency programs, and investing in wind, solar, natural gas and renewable natural gas programs.
The goal will also require the use of technologies that are not currently in widespread use, including carbon capture, the company said.