Will BP row back even further on its climate commitments now that Bernard Looney is gone? Greenpeace certainly fears so.

"Whoever takes the reins at BP must significantly build on Looney’s green ambitions, not walk them back," Greenpeace senior climate advisor Charlie Kronick warns. "Too often, corporate climate pledges evaporate with a CEO's departure; their choice of a new CEO will be a litmus test of the BP board’s climate credentials."

Until a permanent replacement is found, the job falls to chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss, a Canadian national who joined BP in July 2020 and helped Mr Looney steer the company through the Covid pandemic, a rapid exit from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, last year's energy price shock and the ensuing cost-of-living crisis.

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During his tenure Mr Looney launched an aggressive initial strategy to cut the company's hydrocarbon production by 40% by the year 2030. Even after that was watered down to 25% earlier this year, it remains the most radical reduction in oil and gas output this year among major oil companies.

The announcement that BP was scaling back on its climate commitments was in conjunction with the release of its annual results in February, with profits more than doubling to £23 billion as soaring fossil fuel prices helped the energy giant reach the highest earnings in its 114-year history. That was not a good look.

Nor was the following month's news that Mr Looney's annual pay packet more than doubled to £10 million thanks in large part to the soaring energy prices that turbo-charged BP's profits but have also put households throughout the UK under enormous financial strain.

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There has also been some disquiet among BP's investors who remain unconvinced whether the company can generate competitive returns from its non-hydrocarbon businesses. During the last three years the company's shares have underperformed those of rivals Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron.

Analysts are therefore unclear whether Mr Looney's departure will lead to a change in direction.

"Depending on the new CEO, BP could theoretically roll back its transition plans further," analysts at Morningstar said in a note to investors. "But if the board likes the current direction, regardless of the lagging stock price, they will likely bring in someone who keeps BP on the same path."