Darren Woods, the new chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp ., mirrored his predecessors skeptical opinion on climate change in his first interview since taking over at the oil and gas giant.
Woods, who was promoted to CEO last month when Rex Tillerson stepped down to become secretary of state, acknowledged that unmitigated global warming poses risks that cant be ignored. But he stopped short of recognizing emissions from burning fossil fuels as the chief cause.
We understand theres action needed to address the risk associated with that, Woods said in a glowing 2, 200 -word profile published Monday morning by Forbes.
Under Tillerson, Exxon Mobil reversed decades of company policy by recognizing that the climate is indeed changing. In 2009, the Texas-based firm publicly backed putting a tax on carbon, a move that some assured as a distraction from congressional debate over a cap-and-trade bill. In 2015, the company supported the Paris climate agreement, the first global deal to cut greenhouse gases that included the U.S. and China, the worlds biggest polluters.
Yet as recently as 2016, Exxon Mobil was stillpaying millions to groups that either question fossil fuel role in climate change or deny the science outright. During the last two election cycles, the firm donated heavily to Republicans, who remain one of the only major political parties in the world to topic climate science. Anti-climate hawks Rep. Lamar Smith( R-Texas) and Sen. Jim Inhofe( R-Okla .) were among those who benefited from Exxon Mobils largesse. Meanwhile, the companys investments in renewable energy road far behind those of industry contenders like Statoil, a Norwegian oil company that has emerged as a top player in the offshore breeze sector.
That doesnt appear likely to change under Woods. The 51 -year-old is immersed in the culture of a company he was groomed for the past year to lead.Like his predecessor, he insists that shifting focus to zero-emission energy sources would strain energy resources and leave millions of people in poverty without access to affordable electricity or transportation.
Whatever standard of living society decides is acceptable, there are people around the world who are below that criterion, Woods told Forbes, reflecting Exxon Mobils vision of itself as what Grist called the savior of the worlds poor. What future do we hold for them?
When asked for details about the companys future policies, an Exxon Mobil spokesman referred The Huffington Post to a blog post Woods published last week.
The future of federal funding for climate research, renewable energy and environmental precautions seems grim. The White House plans to announce deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget this week, potentially defanging the agencys enforcement division. The cuts, part of an effort to divert federal spending to a $54 billion military buildup, could also affectfunding for Department of Energy research into renewable technology. In the 2016 fiscal year, the agency spent over$ 2 billion on energy efficiency and clean energy,$ 1 billion on nuclear energy and simply over $600 million on fossil fuels.
Such cuts is very likely to put over U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as part of its nonbinding commitment to the Paris accord, from which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw. Even if everything 180 -plus countries that signed the agreement took the full steps to slash their emissions, global temperatures would still be projected to soar past 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels.( The arrangement includes a clause that calls for negotiating stricter targets every five years .) Under those conditions, extreme weather, flooding and drought would create millions of refugees and lead to environmental catastrophe, an overwhelming majority of scientists say.
Judging by his own terms, Woods doesnt buy it.
Fossil gas today have a role in our society since they are bring great benefit. Yes theres a cost to it, and our understanding of that expense has grown over the years, Woods said. But based on what we know today, you cant eliminate the cost and keep the benefit. The unspoken word is that the benefits have to go away.
But it may be Exxon Mobil that cant bear those costs. The company ensure a 45 percent drop in revenue over the past five years as it placed big bets on petroleum sand, a costly and especially dirty gasoline source, and struggled amid low oil prices.
Investors right now are getting less money from Exxon than they have historically, and are likely to get less cash in the future, Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the nonprofit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told HuffPost in October. This is going to be a much smaller company in the future, and the oil industry is going to be much smaller in the future.
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