Climate change is the biggest problem facing the modern world. It stands to reason that the United States, being the most highly industrialized nation on Earth, has a responsibility to lead the way with regard to protecting the environment. But with interest in climate science a little lacking at the moment in the federal government, we’ve had to look elsewhere for guidance. According to Axios, ExxonMobil has emerged as the new face of America’s fight against climate change.
Being the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, Exxon has understandably faced a great deal of public pressure to do something about climate change. To that end, the company is backing two major technological efforts in the coming years. One is the use of biofuels—the hope is that by relying on natural resources such as algae, cars can be fueled in the future without burning excessive fossil fuels. The other tactic is carbon capture—by capturing carbon from natural gas, potential polluters can keep it from damaging the ozone layer.
“[Exxon is] simultaneously negative on the existing technology but also betting on this breakthrough,” Ceres oil and gas expert Andrew Logan told Axios. “Not only that it will work, but that it’ll be scalable at what looks like extremely ambitious levels.”
For Exxon, this is a crucial bet to make, as the company is facing a mountain of criticism for its negligence on climate issues until now. The company is currently being sued by a number of plaintiffs who allege the big oil companies knew about the dangers of climate change for decades and concealed them. The company responded by 2018 by holding its first-ever dedicated session to discuss climate change activism; these new climate efforts are a direct result.
Another key area to watch here will be Exxon’s push for improved legislation on climate issues. Pete Trelenberg, Exxon’s manager of environmental policy and planning, has argued that a carbon tax of $100 per ton would be a huge step, as it would make carbon-capture technologies more financially viable. With Exxon now at the forefront of the climate movement, we may soon see more forward progress.
Image: A screen shot of ExxonMobil’s website featuring its climate change action page.