Reducing GHG emissions hinges on appropriate public policies that seek to reduce the risks posed by climate change at minimum cost to society, while recognizing the importance of abundant, reliable, affordable energy for global economic development. Developing countries already account for more than half of current GHG emissions globally, and by around 2020, cumulative historical GHG emissions from developing and developed economies will be equal. Therefore, both developed countries and the major developing economies need to participate in crafting policies aimed at mitigating global CO2 emissions. Policy discussions in developed countries should also recognize the role of energy in economic development.
A variety of policy strategies can contribute to GHG emissions reductions, such as cap-and-trade rules, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. ExxonMobil participates in GHG emissions trading when cost-effective, in areas of our operations where regulated trading schemes exist. However, we believe a well-designed, revenue-neutral carbon tax program provides a more cost-effective alternative to a cap-and-trade regime for reducing GHG emissions. We believe this approach ensures a uniform and predictable cost of carbon, lets market prices drive solutions, maximizes transparency to stakeholders, reduces administrative complexity, promotes global participation, and is easily adjusted to future developments in climate science and policy impacts.
Our scientists have been involved in climate change research and related policy analysis for nearly 30 years. This undertaking has yielded more than 45 papers in peer-reviewed publications. Experts from our organization have served on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception, and continue to be engaged today. ExxonMobil funds or collaborates on climate-related research at the University of Illinois, the University of California at Riverside, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. In 2013, we collaborated with the University of California at Riverside on a study aimed at improving computer modeling of black carbon in the atmosphere. ExxonMobil also played an integral role in organizing a major industry workshop through IPIECA on short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs). The workshop explored the basic science of SLCFs, natural and anthropogenic emission sources of SLCFs, and the role of the oil and gas industry.
Climate change adaptation
Our Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) is the cornerstone to managing safety, security, health and environmental risks in our operations worldwide, including potential physical risks associated with climate change. While most scientists agree climate change poses risks related to extreme weather, sea level rise, temperature extremes and precipitation changes, current scientific understanding provides limited guidance on the likelihood, magnitude or time frame of these events. Anticipating the likelihood of an event at the regional or local level in comparison to global averages is even more difficult. Nevertheless, our facilities are designed, constructed and operated to withstand a variety of extreme conditions, with safety factors built in to cover a number of engineering uncertainties, including those associated with potential climate change impacts. We continue to engage with major engineering societies, international organizations and industry groups to develop sound engineering perspectives on managing the risks of climate change.