Photo: Darren Woods; Source: ExxonMobil

Lobbyist’s comments in leaked video ‘inaccurate’, ExxonMobil CEO claims

Following an undercover reporter filming a lobbyist for ExxonMobil stating that the company’s climate policy was just a PR stunt, the chief executive officer (CEO) of ExxonMobil issued a statement refuting those claims.

Channel 4 aired an interview on Wednesday with one former and one current ExxonMobil lobbyist recorded by undercover Greenpeace activists in which both claimed that the company was still fighting efforts to tackle climate change in the U.S., despite publicly claiming to support the Paris climate agreement.

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One of the main talking points of the interview was the question of climate tax which, according to one of the lobbyists, ExxonMobil supports for the simple reason that it believes it would never gain enough political support to pass as a law.

The interview covered several topics – from climate tax, Biden’s $2 trillion American jobs plan, fighting against proven scientific facts, and many victories ExxonMobil had during the Trump administration.

ExxonMobil did immediately react and state that ‘comments made by the individuals in no way represent the company’s position on a variety of issues, including climate policy and our firm commitment that carbon pricing is important to addressing climate change’ and that the interviewed individuals ‘were never involved in developing the company’s policy positions on the issues discussed’.

The supermajor’s senior Washington-based lobbyist Keith McCoy also apologised for being duped by the Greenpeace reporter via his LinkedIn account.

He stated that he was embarrassed because he fell for ‘Greenpeace’s deception‘ and apologised to his colleagues at ExxonMobil.

Statement by ExxonMobil CEO

On Friday, ExxonMobil’s chief executive Darren Woods made a statement on the company’s website to explain the supermajor’s position regarding these claims which he called ‘entirely inconsistent’ with ExxonMobil’s position regarding climate change. Below you can read the statement by Woods in its entirety.

The past few days have been disappointing for everyone at ExxonMobil and for me personally. A current and former member of our government affairs team were secretly recorded making disturbing and inaccurate comments about our positions on a variety of issues, including climate change policy, and our interaction with elected officials.

Their comments are entirely inconsistent with our commitment to the environment, transparency and what our employees and management team have worked toward since I became CEO four years ago. I want to make our position clear.

We understand the tremendous challenge represented by climate change and have fully supported the Paris Agreement since its inception. Our scientists are working to develop innovative solutions to help reduce emissions, with a focus on the highest emitting and most difficult to decarbonize sectors of the economy: commercial transportation, power generation and heavy industry.

It is in these areas where we believe ExxonMobil can best contribute to the challenge of climate change. For example, through our new ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions business, we are advancing plans for large-scale emission reductions with new carbon capture and storage opportunities around the world. We are also leveraging ExxonMobil’s significant experience in the production of hydrogen which, when coupled with carbon capture and storage, is likely to play a critical role in a lower-carbon energy system.

We’re investing $3 billion on lower-emission energy solutions through 2025 on top of the $10 billion we’ve spent over the past two decades.  As we develop additional value-added opportunities, I expect these investments to grow.

We believe a price on carbon emissions is essential to achieving net-zero emissions. Carbon pricing would send a clear signal through the market, creating incentives to reduce emissions, fostering investment in R&D to advance solutions and providing consumers with transparency to make the best choices.

While there is some resistance to a carbon tax, we are actively and publicly discussing other options, including lower-carbon fuels and other sector-based approaches that would place a uniform, predictable cost on carbon. Today, through government regulation and incentives, we are paying to reduce carbon throughout the economy. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what it’s costing.  We think it’s vitally important for the cost of reducing carbon to be more transparent to enable comparisons of the various options to help policymakers reduce emissions at the lowest overall cost to society.

We are actively working to reduce our own emissions. Overall, we have reduced operated greenhouse gas emissions by 11 per cent from 2016 to 2020, and we’ve laid out plans for significant further reductions by 2025.  We are also working to find new and better ways to monitor and reduce methane emissions, including collaborations with universities, environmental groups and other industry partners. Through 2020, we reduced methane emissions nearly 34 per cent across our U.S. unconventional operations, compared to 2016 when the Paris Agreement was signed.

We have great respect for policymakers, elected officials and organizations across the political spectrum who are grappling to effectively address climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time. ExxonMobil’s position is clear: we want to be part of the solution while responsibly providing affordable energy required to power the economy. We have the experience, capabilities, capacity, and commitment to help meet this critical need“.