The Heat Is Online

ExxonMobil Lags in Climate Policies

Exxon said to lag majors in climate policy, May 15, 2003

NEW YORK - Top global energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. is the poorest performer among leading world energy producers in responding to global climate change and disclosing greenhouse risks to investors, social investment groups said.

London-based Claros Consulting released a report this week that said unlike its peers BP and Shell Oil Co., Exxon Mobil does not support carbon trading, in which companies that produce greenhouse gases over set limits would have to purchase credits to emit over those limits.

Claros and Boston-based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies also said that unlike ChevronTexaco  and Shell, Exxon does not participate in carbon pricing, which factors in the cost of carbon emissions when deciding whether to go ahead with projects.

Energy companies produce substantial amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, that scientists say cause climate change. Insurance companies such as Munich Re say greenhouse risks, such as rising seas to low-lying nations and agricultural losses from global warming could soon total hundred of billions of dollars in the next 50 years.


An Exxon Mobil spokesman said while greenhouse gas emissions may indeed pose a threat, studies must continue to understand the risks and possible consequences.

"Emissions trading really doesn't get you anywhere," said Exxon Mobil's Tom Cirigliano. "The answer is going to be new technology which absolutely reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions."

Exxon has made its oil refineries 37 percent more efficient since the 1970s, one example of how technology changes reduce emissions, Cirigliano said.

But Peter Altman, of Austin-based Campaign Exxon Mobil, said Exxon's refinery efficiency lags the efficiency rates of other industries such as chemical and steel as well as the 45 percent more efficient rate of the economy as a whole.

Altman said Exxon Mobil does not disclose greenhouse risks on its financial reports as completely as energy concerns such as BP and ConocoPhillips. On its financial releases to the Securities Exchange Commission BP lists the risks associated with the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to limit emissions and needs only Russia's approval to go into effect. BP's filings also mention the company's investments in alternative energies like wind and solar power which cut emissions.

But Cirigliano said the company would not seek to quantify its global warming risks. "There's a lot of smoke being blown around the whole issue of global climate change, and we're not going to participate in the PR (public relations) efforts that some companies are involved in and the PR efforts that some environmental groups are involved in."

Claros released the report ahead of Exxon's May 28 annual meeting in which shareholders are set to vote on three climate-related resolutions. At last year's annual meeting, 20.3 percent of shareholders voted for a resolution that would force the company to disclose its strategy for pursuing alternative energies such as wind and solar energy.

Story by Timothy Gardner