UN climate talks have focused on renewable energy for too long, says ExxonMobil boss – Financial Times

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UN climate negotiations on limiting global warming have focused on renewable energy for too long, according to the CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest Western oil company.

In an interview with the Financial Times at COP28 in Dubai on Saturday, Darren Woods said energy transition talks had focused on “the electron solution” while neglecting the role of hydrogen, biofuels and carbon capture.

“The transition is not just limited to wind, solar and electric vehicles,” Woods said. “Carbon capture will play a role. We’re good at that. We know how to do it, we can contribute. Hydrogen will play a role. Biofuels will play a role.”

It is the first time an Exxon chief has attended the event, and his presence has led climate experts to criticize the industry’s continued efforts to delay action and its outsized influence on the U.N. summit.

Exxon was among 50 leading oil and gas companies that attended the summit and signed a pledge to reduce emissions from their own operations, which represent only a fraction of their contribution to global warming.

In Dubai, a group of countries are pushing for a global deal to phase out fossil fuels to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2030, ideally.

Woods said the discussions “placed far too much emphasis on eliminating fossil fuels, oil and gas, and not…” . . to deal with the associated emissions”.

He said there would be “sustained demand” for oil and gas and advocated for a “continuum where in some places you will completely replace the burning of oil, gas and coal, and in other places with the associated emissions has to fight.” .”

Other prominent industry leaders who attended the summit included Oxy’s Vicki Hollub, ENI boss Claudio Descalzi and RWE’s Markus Krebber.

Mark Carney (left) and Michael Bloomberg (center left) at a reception on the opening day of COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 30, 2023

Woods said the climate change conversation has “moved and continues to move away from ambitious commitments and hopeful goals set decades in the future” and toward “action-oriented activities, more of a plan.”

“Discussions are beginning to encompass more than just emissions, but also to consider the multiple challenges associated with the transition.”

“So, think about it [of] Energy poverty, affordability, reliability, national security, energy security – all of these things are starting to be factored into the equation.”

In October, Exxon announced it would buy Pioneer Natural Resources in a $60 billion deal, giving Exxon a dominant position in the U.S.’s vast Permian Basin and increasing its production at the oil patch to 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day doubled. At the time, Exxon said the deal would allow it to quickly ramp up production.

“Exxon’s participation is an integral part of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long effort to subvert and corrupt the climate crisis,” said Geoffrey Supran, lead author of a report this year in the journal Science. that Exxon scientists correctly predicted global warming back in the 1970s.

However, the company continued to raise doubts about the matter in public communications. Supran, a climate expert at the University of Miami, said Exxon “has not changed its stance” and is still trying to delay global efforts to combat climate change.

He said Woods’ participation at COP28 suggested the industry was “shaking in its boots” as calls for an end to fossil fuels grew louder.

Woods has previously dismissed claims that Exxon was spreading climate disinformation, stating in 2021 that the company had “long recognized the reality and risks of climate change.”

On Saturday, Woods told the FT that the company was “always focused on doing the right thing”.

He added: “Honestly, the people who want to criticize us for getting in – I don’t think about that much. I’m more focused on what we can do to contribute and meet the needs of society.”

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