HOUSTON – Exxon Mobil, under increasing pressure from investors to tackle climate change, announced on Tuesday that it has “ambition” to net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2050.
The largest U.S. oil company remains behind some of its key competitors in its public environmental commitments.
Exxon said it has identified 150 modifications to its exploration and production operations to help achieve its goals, including the electrification of operations with energy from renewable sources. Initial steps will include removing the flare and venting methane, a byproduct of drilling that is a potent greenhouse gas.
“We had the foresight,” Exxon chief executive Darren Woods said in an interview. “By the end of the year, 90% of our assets will have a road map to reduce emissions and realize this net-free future.”
Exxon’s goals include so-called Scope 1 emissions, produced directly by the company, and Scope 2 emissions from electricity generation that Exxon buys, such as electricity provided by utilities.
But the new policies do not cover Scope 3 emissions, caused by fuel burn by other drivers and customers, as well as other companies in Exxon’s supply chain. The majority of emissions associated with companies are Scope 3, and they are the hardest to control or offset.
European companies have already begun making commitments to Scope 3, which will require enormous efforts, including reforestation, carbon capture and removal from operations and advancements. set of technologies such as fuel made from recycled carbon. Many companies are selling off their hydrocarbon businesses and redirecting resources to renewables such as solar and wind power.
Shell, Europe’s largest oil and gas company, has set goals for 2050 for net zero emissions includes Scope 3, which it says accounts for more than 90% of its emissions. Equinor, Norway’s national oil company, has similar goals, as does BP, although it has ruled out joint operations with Rosneft, a Russian company.
By moving towards “net zero”, companies will remove more carbon than they release into the air.
One US company that has committed to eliminating Scope 3 emissions is Occidental Petroleum, one of Exxon’s main competitors in the Permian Basin in Texas, where it intends to suck carbon out of the air and bury it in the ground. Chevron, America’s second largest oil company, announced in October “Aspiration” to net zero emissions by 2050 from its operations, a move similar to Exxon’s announcement on Tuesday.
Environmentalists insist Exxon and other oil companies must meet Scope 3 goals.
“Adequately addressing Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions is necessary but not sufficient because the primary impact of oil and gas is on the planet,” said Mark Brownstein, senior vice president for energy at the Environmental Defense Fund. in the sale and use of the product. “Being an energy solutions provider means you are addressing the carbon footprint as well as the energy content of the products you are providing.”
Mr Woods said his company is working to cut Scope 3 emissions by working on carbon capture and sequestration, as well as the use of advanced low-carbon fuels for aviation and vehicles. other heavy traffic.
“There are opportunities as we continue to push for carbon capture,” he said. “There will be an opportunity to commercialize that technology and help others reduce their emissions.”
Pressure on Exxon has been growing since active investors secures three of the 12 seats on its board in June in a stunning defeat for the leadership. Mr Woods said board members were now “agreed”, adding, “You can’t distinguish between the new and the old.”
Exxon established a Low Carbon Solutions business last year to accelerate the development of carbon, hydrogen and biofuel capture and storage projects. It hopes to make the Houston canal carbon capture and storage project a global model, although a carbon tax or some other price on carbon will be necessary to turn a profit.
Its Canadian subsidiary, Imperial Oil, is planning to produce renewable diesel to reduce emissions in heavy-duty transportation vehicles. This month, Exxon acquired a nearly 50% stake in Biojet, a Norwegian biofuel company that plans to convert wood and wood construction waste into low-carbon biofuels.
Exxon has also set international goals. They recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Pertamina, Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, to evaluate potential large-scale carbon capture and storage projects in Indonesia.
The company said it plans to invest $15 billion to reduce emissions over the next six years. Much of that money will go toward developing carbon capture and storage, hydrogen energy and biofuels. The executive summary of its plans says “reasonable government policies” such as some form of carbon pricing are important to “establish market dynamics” such as those support electric cars and renewable energy.
“We are working closely with policymakers to help them see what kinds of constructive policies can be put in place” to advance carbon capture and gas efforts, said Mr. Woods. Exxon’s other successor.
But such efforts have so far failed to satisfy many of the investment communities. Last month, UBS Asset Management announced that it was selling its stake in Exxon as part of a divestment from oil and gas companies it considers lagging in climate change policy.
Mark van Baal, a Dutch investment activist who has for years promoted environmental action from European companies, has announced that his investor group will call on Exxon to set Emission targets not only address company operations, but also customer emissions.
“It’s a step toward a more ambitious approach to tackling climate change, but it’s very much in itself,” said Andrew Logan, senior director at Ceres, a nonprofit organization. modest. the investors.
Mr. Logan also said Exxon’s reliance on biofuels and carbon capture is of concern. “If they bet too much on technologies that depend on outside action, that’s a bit of a risky approach,” he said.
Exxon’s stance on emissions has evolved over the past year. March, Mr. Woods promised that his company is “supportive” of zero-emissions goals and will try to set a goal of emitting no more greenhouse gases than it leaves the atmosphere, but he added that it is difficult to say when that will be. that will happen.
Last month, the company announced that it would aim to achieve net greenhouse gas emissions from its operations in oil and gas fields in West Texas and New Mexico by 2030. It is committed to electrification. streamline its operations, improving its ability to detect and capture methane. gas and eliminate the habit of burning exhaust gas from oil wells.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/business/exxon-net-zero-emissions.html Exxon sets 2050 target for net greenhouse gas emissions-0