Exxon Mobil executives in recent years have continued to raise doubts internally about the risks of climate change and the need to reduce oil and gas use, even though the company had previously publicly acknowledged that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, according to a report. in The Wall Street Journal.
Efforts to reduce concerns about climate change under former CEO Rex Tillerson, who led Exxon from 2006 until 2016, were occurring at the same time as scientists at the company were modeling alarming increases in carbon dioxide emissions without significant reductions. in fossil fuel consumption. the magazine mentioned. The newspaper cited internal company documents that were part of a lawsuit in New York state and interviews with former executives.
Exxon, along with other oil and gas companies, is a defendant in several state and local lawsuits accusing it of misleading the public about climate change and the dangers of fossil fuels.
Richard Wells, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, a group that tries to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their role in driving climate change, points to documents he obtained. magazine It will likely be used against Exxon in court.
“As communities pay an increasing price for the worsening climate crisis, it is clearer than ever that Exxon must be held accountable for the damage it has caused,” Wells said in a statement.
Previous investigations found that Exxon worked for decades to sow confusion about climate change, even though its scientists began warning executives as early as 1977 that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels were warming the planet, causing It poses severe risks to humans.
By the late 1980s, concern was growing domestically and abroad that the use of fossil fuels was warming the planet, increasing the risk of extreme weather conditions. In response, magazine As reported, Exxon CEO Frank Sprow sent a memo to colleagues warning that if there was a global consensus on tackling climate change, “significant negative impacts on Exxon could occur.”
According to the magazine“Any additional R&D efforts under corporate greenhouse research must have two primary purposes: 1. Protect the value of our resources (oil, gas, and coal). 2. Preserve Exxon’s business options,” Sprow wrote.
Spro said magazine The approach outlined in his memo was adopted as policy “in what will become a key pillar of Exxon’s strategy,” the newspaper said.
A few years after writing the memo, Exxon became the architect of a highly effective strategy of climate change denial, which for decades succeeded in politicizing climate policy and delaying meaningful action to reduce thermal pollution.
An Exxon spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company has repeatedly acknowledged that “climate change is real, and we have an entire business dedicated to reducing emissions — both our own and others.”
Last year, Exxon said it planned to spend about $17 billion on “emissions reduction initiatives” through 2027. That represents, at most, 17% of the total capital investments the company plans to make during that period.
Exxon recently purchased a company called Denbury that specializes in capturing carbon dioxide emissions and injecting them into oil wells to boost production. It also plans to build a hydrogen plant and a facility to capture and store carbon emissions in Texas.
The spokesman said the company could spend more on “emissions reduction initiatives” if it saw “additional supportive government policies and new and improved technology.”
Many scientists and environmental activists have questioned the feasibility of Exxon’s carbon capture technology. Previous carbon capture projects undertaken by other companies were either significantly over budget, or were shut down. They assert that the most effective solution is to make significant reductions in the use of fossil fuels.
Investors seemed unfazed by the latest revelations about Exxon. The company’s stock price was up nearly 2% Thursday afternoon.
Scientists at the United Nations recently warned that the world is running out of time to prevent global warming that would cause more dangerous impacts, such as storms and droughts. Climate scientists say the world needs to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Currently, it is trending towards a 2.5 degree Celsius warming.
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