Companies

ExxonMobil declares new goals for carbon emissions per barrel

Published on: 30 November 2021 06:30 PM
ExxonMobil intends to spend $15bn on emissions reduction efforts to the end of 2027, about a tenth of total planned capital expenditure © Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty
ExxonMobil intends to spend $15bn on emissions reduction efforts to the end of 2027, about a tenth of total planned capital expenditure © Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty

ExxonMobil has broadened goals to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released with each barrel of oil it pumps, applying them across company operations but avoiding deeper emissions cuts endorsed by rivals in Europe.

The US energy supermajor said it aimed to reduce company-wide greenhouse gas intensity by 20-30 per cent by 2030. Exxon’s previous target was an intensity reduction of 15-20 per cent by 2025 for its “upstream”, or oil and gas production, business, which it said was achieved this year.Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles.

The updated emissions and capital spending plans released on Wednesday are the first since Exxon lost board seats in a proxy battle with the activist hedge fund Engine No 1, which had argued the company was ill prepared for a lower-carbon future.

Andrew Logan, senior director for oil and gas at Ceres, which co-ordinates investor action on climate change, said the new emissions targets were “grossly inadequate” and argued Exxon was “losing ground relative to its peers” that have more ambitious goals.

“It’s hard to find any signs that the company’s fundamental approach to addressing climate change has changed with the addition of new board members,” Logan said, though he added it was “still early days”.

Carbon intensity is a measure of emissions per unit of output. Activists have criticised Exxon for using this yardstick, rather than absolute emissions, because it allows total emissions to rise if fossil fuel output climbs. However, Exxon said its updated plans would lead to “corporate-wide” emissions 20 per cent lower by 2030.

Exxon’s targets are limited to emissions that come from its operations, not from consumers burning the fuels it sells. BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon’s European peers, have said they will cut oil and gas output over time to meet emissions targets that encompass fuel combustion.

Texas-based Exxon intends to spend $15bn cumulatively on new emissions-reduction efforts to the end of 2027, or about $2.5bn a year. Its total planned capital spending is between $20bn and $25bn a year to the end of 2027, up from about $16bn in this year’s pandemic-hit budget.

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