Friday, December 22, 2006

Is Exxon About to Surrender?

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Exxon CEO Rex Tilerson gave a speech at Boston College. Here he advocates taking a cautionary approach that mainstream scientists support:
While our scientific understanding of climate change continues to improve, it nonetheless remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. Having said that, the potential risks to society could prove to be significant, so despite the areas of uncertainties that do exist, it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the potential risks.
He does the same here as well:
This is a global-wide, century-scale problem. 85% of the growth of CO2 emissions are associated with economic activity in the developing part of the world, with only 15% of the growth associated with developed countries. We should start on a path to reduce the likelihood of the worst outcomes… and understand the context of managing carbon emissions among other developing world priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health.

Consistent with this approach, we should take steps now to reduce emissions in effective and meaningful ways.

Just when it sounds too good to be true, he leaves himself an out which I've highlighted in bold:

In my view, this means we should continue to fund ongoing scientific research without conditions or preconceived outcomes to increase our understanding of all of the forcings which are part of this very elegant, but very complex climate systems in which we live – including ongoing study of not only the possible forcing effects resulting from mankind's socioeconomic activity, but equally if not more important understanding of the natural forcing elements that are and have been apart of the climate system since the dawn of time.
The National Academy of Sciences of 18 different countries say the recent warming is very unlikely to have been caused by natural forces. Exxon still seems to completely ignore this fact and the scientific consensus on climate change. Still, this seems to be a rather big shift in energy policy recommendations by Exxon. Has the beast grown a heart? Has the horned monster of misinformation raised a white flag? Will they cut off the funding to Astroturf organizations like the Royal Society asked? Or is this merely a green washing two-face maneuver?

Only time will tell.

Update:

Exxon's response to the Royal Society's letter:
The Royal Society's letter and public statements to the media inaccurately and unfairly described our company. Our views on climate change are clearly described in our company publications. We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change - we don't debate or dispute this.
Well according to Exxon Secrets and Exxpose Exxon the Royal Society's letter was fair. Again, it will be interesting to see who they decide to fund in the future. I'm not terribly optimistic. But it is nice to see them acknowledging the greenhouse gas effect.

Source:
Environmental defense, Rex Tillerson Speech, Boston CEO Club, Boston, Massachusetts, November 30, 2006, Posted on: 12/06/2006

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