Think oil companies are nervous about governmental efforts to reduce carbon emissions? Think again. Investors recently challenged ExxonMobil to project how green policies will affect their profits in the upcoming decades, and the corporation responded that it foresees no such restrictions impeding it from conducting business as usual, reports Grist.
Granted, ExxonMobil’s official report falls short of arrogantly laughing at the premise that anyone would stop the company from burning oil, but the message was still clear: climate change or not, people will still rely on oil, and the company will gladly supply it to them.
William Colton, vice president of corporate strategic planning at ExxonMobil, assured shareholders that “all of ExxonMobil’s current hydrocarbon reserves will be needed, along with substantial future industry investments, to address global energy needs.”
The company’s report suggests that globalization and expanding economies will safeguard ExxonMobil’s livelihood. With even poorer nations becoming more industrialized, the need for energy will only heighten in the decades to come. As the world’s energy demands grow, so does the need for the fuel to generate that energy.
“ExxonMobil is saying it doesn’t believe governments will keep their internationally agreed commitments to limit climate change to safe levels,” said Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.
Despite its bleak projection for the future, many activists are choosing to take ExxonMobil’s announcement as a step in the right direction. Having the company acknowledge that the world is concerned about climate change is in itself progressive for an energy company. Furthermore, the activists hope that the company’s clear declaration that it will continue to conduct business as usual without considering the global consequences will force governments to be more proactive in enacting legislation and policies to stop this destructive business.
A spokesperson for 350.org said, “Exxon put all their cards on the table. They said, ‘We think governments won’t meet the 80% reduction goal, and we’re just gonna burn all the oil and gas we want.’ One of the most interesting things to watch is how the Obama admin will react. Exxon just called them a bunch of liars. They said, ‘You’re never going to meet your 80% targets. You’re never going to stand up and regulate us.’”
In essence, ExxonMobil is betting – perhaps correctly – that the immediate needs of the people will take precedence. Politicians who are concerned more about what will happen within the next election cycle rather than the devastation coming 20 years later will prioritize quick ways to stimulate the economy and meet energy needs. As a result, climate change, a problem that absolutely should not be put off any longer, will continue to be put off anyway.
For the sake of life on earth, however, hopefully ExxonMobil’s gamble is incorrect. Hopefully, world leaders’ pledges to cut emissions are fulfilled. Hopefully, governments cut reliance on oil and get behind clean energy industries instead.
If that’s true, ExxonMobil’s unwillingness to search for alternatives may eventually kill the corporation… assuming that that corporation doesn’t manage to kill us all first.