22 January 2011

Guess who is warning of increasing greenhouse gas emissions

"Rising greenhouse-gas emissions pose significant risks to society and ecosystems. Since most of these emissions are energy-related, any integrated approach to meeting the world’s growing energy needs over the coming decades must incorporate strategies to address the risk of climate change."
Nothing new in those remarks you might say and you'd be right. But what is new is who made them. ExxonMobil no less. In its annual Outlook on Energy report, the energy giant is warning that society is facing the challenge of addressing "the societal and ecological risks posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions." It predicts that global carbon emissions will rise by 25 per cent in the next 20 years, a projection gloomier than those publicly expressed by many scientists and governments, and one that douses optimism that runaway climate change can be prevented.
Beyond 2030, the report says, any progress on cuts will require "more aggressive gains in energy efficiency as well as the use of less carbon-intensive fuels. New technologies will by then be essential." This is no surprise to most of us but strong stuff for ExxonMobil.

Not long ago it was one of the most influential deniers of climate change, engaged in intensive lobbying efforts against the Kyoto protocol, running ads that questioned the scientific basis for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and as late as 2008 funding organizations dedicated to undermining climate science. Now the leopard seems to be changing its spots.

It may have been encouraged by a shareholder revolt in 2008. That year, members of the Rockefeller family, descendants of the founder of the company, were scathing in their criticism of the company's policies. "There are an awful lot of people who are getting increasingly annoyed with Exxon," said Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a great-granddaughter of John D, while accusing the company of "an inability to listen to outsiders and an assumption that they know all the answers." The Rockefellers were joined in their dissent by 19 major institutional shareholders, including public investment funds from California, New York, Illinois, Maine and Vermont, the United Methodist Church, and the AFSCME public employees' union. All backed resolutions calling on Exxon to appoint an independent chairman and to set up a task force tackling global warming.

Whether convinced by shareholder outrage or by science or by simply recognizing what's best for the company's long-term interests, ExxonMobil seems to be accepting the reality of the climate change threat. ... Finally.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, I didn't know what to make of this. Is it greenwashing or is Exxon conditioning the public to accept the inevitability of what is coming? This outfit has plainly shown its duplicity in this area before. Recall that it promised to cut funding to climate change deniers and then got caught out having resumed their gravy train.

    I'm suspicious that Exxon wants to be "seen" on the right side of this issue while it continues its merry ways. Surely a measure of Exxon's sincerity will be the vigour with which the company pursues its developments in the Athabasca Tar Sands. Even Exxon can't suck and blow at the same time.