International efforts are urgently needed to combat global warming and prevent „serious” damage to the environment and economy, said Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest oil refiner.
Scientific research indicates the risks from global warming „warrant action now,” Kenneth Cohen, Exxon Mobil Corp.'s vice president of public affairs, said in materials prepared for a conference call today with reporters. New policies are needed to „reduce the risk of serious impacts at a reasonable cost.” Cohen's comments are the Irving, Texas-based company's most strident to date on the topic of climate changes linked to the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal and diesel.
Exxon Mobil, pilloried by Greenpeace throughout the 1990s as an enemy of environmentalism, has been softening its stance on global warming since early 2000, when former CEO Lee Raymond gave a speech in London that acknowledged the dangers inherent in climate change. Temperatures have risen worldwide since the industrial revolution of the 19th century ushered in more use of fossil fuels, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a creation of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
If the warming trend continues, it could threaten food production and fresh-water supplies, and spur malaria and cholera epidemics, according to the panel. Exxon Mobil scientists participated in some of the studies that led to the panel's report.
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who succeeded Raymond in January 2006, pledged to speak more openly about global warming, in part to correct what he said were misconceptions about the company's stance. International initiatives aimed at curbing greenhouse-gas emissions should extend to industrializing countries that will account for more than 80% of new carbon emissions for the next two decades, Cohen said in the prepared materials.
He said China and India must be included in climate-change initiatives. The company expects worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases to increase an average of 3.2% a year through 2030. Countries in Asia, Africa and South America will account for most of that pollution as they burn more coal, oil and other fossil fuels to expand manufacturing, generate electricity and drive more cars, Exxon Mobil said. (Bloomberg)