ExxonMobil’s CEO Asks: ‘What Good Is It to Save the Planet?’

Takepart.com

Here’s a not-very-surprising development: At the ExxonMobil annual shareholder meeting in Dallas on May 29, the corporation’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, told those in attendance that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay and that cutting carbon emissions would do no good.

A rather more surprising development was that he also asked a rhetorical question: “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

We assume he wasn’t referring to studies by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, which have noted that for “each increase of 1 degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States.”

 

 


But Tillerson was preaching to the choir since the Financial Post reports that while environmental activists proposed the company set goals to reduce emissions, shareholders sided with management and voted nearly three-to-one to reject that idea.

This was the seventh time resolutions on greenhouse emissions have been defeated at the company’s shareholder meeting.

Again, we probably shouldn’t be surprised by this development; Good announced last year that in a report created by the Global Warming Policy Foundation—a report that expressed serious doubts about the validity of man-made climate change—nine of the top 10 contributors were financially linked to ExxonMobil.

The Financial Post also notes that since Tillerson became CEO in 2006, Exxon has softened the tone of its public comments but not its skepticism about climate change. “Tillerson said that in the past decade the average temperature ‘hasn’t really changed,’ and he repeated his optimism that technology will solve the problem.”


And the guy really does love to talk about this stuff. ThinkProgress observed that in 2012, Tillerson told the Council on Foreign Relations about the “manageable” risks of climate change:

“As a species that’s why we’re all still here: We have spent our entire existence adapting. So we will adapt to this. It’s an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions.”

Not subject to engineering changes was the shareholders vote on Wednesday to defeat a resolution that would explicitly ban discrimination against gays and lesbians (the 16th time they’ve done so).

The New York Times reported last week that while Mobil Oil had polices protecting gay and lesbian employees from discrimination and extended benefits to same-sex couples, these policies were rescinded by Exxon when it acquired Mobil in 1999.

Alan T. Jeffers, an ExxonMobil spokesman, told The Times that Mr. Tillerson had no comment on the discrimination resolution.

Now if we could just get him to stop talking about the manageable risks of climate change, we’d be making some progress.

Do you think that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay? Let us know in the Comments.

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