Climate change at Exxon

In: Uncategorized

11 Jan 2007

Another sign of the shift in the climate change debate towards a “pro-mitigation” consensus (see dispatch of 15 August 2006). Exxon, often reviled by environmentalists, has subtly shifted its position according to todays’s Wall Street Journal Europe (subscription required to read articles):

“The changes in Exxon’s words and actions are nuanced. The oil giant continues to note uncertainties in climate science. It continues to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, the international global-warming treaty that limits emissions from industrialized countries that have ratified it. It also stresses that any future carbon policy should include developing countries, where emissions are rising fastest.

“Still, the company’s subtle softening is significant and reflects a gathering trend among much of U.S. industry, from utilities to auto makers. While many continue to oppose caps, these companies expect the country will impose mandatory global-warming-emission constraints at some point, so they are lining up to try to shape any mandate so they escape with minimum economic pain.

“Exxon has stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank that last year ran television ads saying that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is helpful. After funding them previously, Exxon decided in late 2005 not to fund for 2006 CEI and “five or six” other groups active in the global-warming debate, Kenneth Cohen, Exxon’s vice president for public affairs, confirmed this week in an interview at Exxon’s headquarters in Irving, Texas. He declined to identify the groups beyond CEI; their names are expected to become public in the spring, when Exxon releases its annual list of donations to nonprofit groups.”