Why it matters: Plenty of corporations have made climate-related promises over the past decade or so -- emissions targets they want to hit, green energy goals, fossil fuel usage reduction, and so on. However, few people would have expected oil giant BP to announce its own, highly ambitious greenhouse gas target. Regardless, that's precisely what the company has done today: by 2050, BP wants to reach "net zero" emissions across its operations.

2050 is certainly a long way away and might initially sound a bit too generous, but when you consider what BP's entire business involves (oil and gas), it almost seems like a pipe dream. Regardless, BP seems confident in its ability to hit that target. In a press release published today, the company announced ten climate-related goals, half of which center around the company's own operations, with the other half focusing on helping "the world" reach net zero emissions as well.

Two of the aims are quite similar: BP wants to reach net zero on all of its operations by 2050, as we said before, but it also specifically mentions a desire to reach net zero on "carbon in BP's oil and gas production on an absolute basis" by the same year.

Furthermore, by 2050, BP will try to cut the "carbon intensity" of the products it sells and the methane intensity of its operations by 50 percent. It will lay the groundwork for the latter much earlier, though -- methane measurement tech will be installed at all of BP's major oil and gas processing sites by 2023. Surprisingly, BP also says it will increase the "proportion of investment" it funnels into non-oil and gas businesses over time (no deadline for that, though).

BP's aims to "help the world get to net zero" are all considerably less ambitious, and a bit more vague. It'll perform more "active advocacy" for policies that support net zero emissions, and it will "launch a new team" to help world governments, corporations, and even entire countries "decarbonise." We don't know what, specifically, either of those aims (or the other three mentioned in the release) will entail, however.

Although BP's latest announcement will almost certainly be viewed with significant skepticism by some, at the end of the day, it's the outcome that matters. If BP truly does reduce its emissions or offset them significantly, that's all the better for green energy and climate activists.