Oil firms dismiss ‘energy transition’ even while touting it

Comment

Some of the world’s major oil companies remain skeptical of the ‘energy transition’ to a low-carbon economy, even as they publicly portray their companies as partners in the cause, according to documents obtained by The Post which will be published by a house committee Friday.

The documents, forming part of a treasury set to be released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, reveals that oil company executives are dismissing the potential of renewables to quickly replace fossil fuels, while scrambling to secure credits for government tax for carbon capture projects that could relieve them of the need to drastically change their business models.

The documents – many of which are copies of internal emails between oil company officials – describe ExxonMobil’s efforts in 2021 to persuade major industrial companies and oil giants to co-sponsor a gigantic carbon capture project in Texas. Elsewhere, in a chain of emails, company officials discuss whether BP, Shell and TotalEnergies – a French oil company – increased their carbon footprint by selling Canadian interests in the oil sands to others. eager investors.

Big oil companies have been criticized for selling off tar sands properties to smaller companies, redistributing responsibility for carbon dioxide. In response to this criticism, a spokesperson said: “What exactly are we supposed to do instead of divesting it… pour concrete on the tar sands and burn the deed so no one can buy it?

Delta and other companies struggle to meet sky-high climate pledges

Scientists say the world must quickly switch from fossil fuels to prevent the worst expected effects of climate change, a position shared by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

For more than a year, the The committee investigated a handful of major oil companies, as well as two of Washington’s largest trade groups, the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce. The survey sought records of industry campaigns to influence public opinion and policy on climate change.

The committee says industry is misleading the public by announcing a commitment to cleaner energy even as it invests disproportionately in fossil fuels. In a previous release of documents on September 14, the committee accused the oil companies of continued deception, following earlier revelations about the oil companies working undermine the credibility of climate science.

“Rather than outright denial of global warming, the fossil fuel industry has ‘greened’ its balance sheet through misleading advertising and climate pledges – without significantly reducing emissions,” he added. the committee said in a note.

Each company in the report — including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell in addition to the American Petroleum Institute — was asked by the committee to provide about 15 to 30 documents.

Among the biggest issues was ExxonMobil’s effort to rally support for what it said would be a $100 billion carbon capture project south of Houston. ExxonMobil was told by potential partners that they would only join other companies “with reputable climate credentials and name recognition.”

“Chevron considers Exxon’s numbers related to tonnes stored, jobs saved, jobs created to be inflated – but harmless inflation,” said an email about Exxon’s proposal. “Chevron is internally divided on the Houston-centric theme – but sees it as a small-stakes concern. Mild unease in parts of Chevron over Exxon’s reputational issues.

Many companies have balked at the Houston project, although more than a dozen currently support the proposal. ExxonMobil still views the federal government as a potential source of cost-cutting tax credits. Tax credits have been significantly expanded under the recent Inflation Reduction Act.

In another email exchange, this one from 2016, an oil company executive expressed the need to restore his company’s image in the face of criticism from climate activists, including Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard scholar and author of a book on oil industry public relations. campaigns.

“Right now, people like Naomi Oreskes (Merchants of Doubt) are describing people like us as ‘climate deniers’ because we don’t believe renewables will solve the whole transition or that it can be done in decades. ,” the official wrote.

The documents also detail a 2017 spat between Shell’s outgoing chief executive Ben van Beurden and Fred Krupp, the chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy organization. Krupp had said that methane releases throughout the natural gas supply chain made it as bad an energy source as coal from a greenhouse gas perspective.

“I was extremely disappointed with his poor service to the good efforts on which we should basically stand side by side,” van Beurden said of Krupp, calling off a meeting between the two. He said the EDF chairman’s comments “went a bit too far for me”.

Krupp said in an email today that he has spoken with van Beurden as well as other senior executives since then. “Industry continues to release massive amounts of methane, and EDF continues to urge them, publicly and privately, to take action to plug these leaks,” he said.

The documents obtained by The Post are just part of those the House committee is expected to release on Friday in further condemnation of what it calls “greenwashing” of the oil industry. A company official estimated that the documents requested amounted to more than a million pages.

Sign up to receive the latest news on climate change, energy and the environment, delivered every Thursday

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top