NEW YORK — On the same day the world’s scientists issued their latest report on climate change and the risks it poses to society, the nation’s biggest oil and gas company said the world’s climate policies are “highly unlikely” to stop it from selling fossil fuels far into the future.
Exxon Mobil issued a report Monday on the risks that climate change policies could pose to the value of its assets and future profitability, by coincidence on the same day as the latest paper by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Nobel Prize-winning United Nations group assembled to assess the science and risks of climate change.
Both Exxon and its critics used IPCC research to bolster their cases.
, the first detailed response to these concerns by a major oil company, acknowledges the need to adopt policies to address climate change. But it concludes that because oil and gas are so critical to global development and economic growth, governments are “highly unlikely” to adopt policies that cut emissions so sharply that fossil fuel consumption would be severely restricted.
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“We know enough based on the research and science that the risk (of climate change) is real and appropriate steps should be taken to address that risk,” said Ken Cohen, Exxon’s government affairs chief. “But given the essential role that energy plays in everyone’s lives, those steps need to be taken in context with other realities we face, including lifting much of the world’s population out of poverty.”
Exxon and the environmental groups agree that climate change is a risk and that society will take steps to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They differ, however, on how drastic society’s response could be, and what would cost more — severely restricting fossil fuel consumption or not doing so and allowing more carbon dioxide to build in the atmosphere.
The report also says climate change will slow down the benefits of a modernizing society, such as regular economic growth and more efficient crop production — exactly the types of things that Exxon argues are delivered now only by relatively cheap and available fossil fuels.