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Should We Cheer? ExxonMobil’s Renewable Energy Commitments Are In The News


Clear Energy
ExxonMobil's renewable energy

Revealed on December sixth, 2018 |
by Carolyn Fortuna

December sixth, 2018 by Carolyn Fortuna 

Media retailers have been celebrating ExxonMobil’s renewable power commitments, which now embrace a 12-year settlement with Denmark’s Ørsted A/S to purchase 500 megawatts of wind and solar energy. ExxonMobil’s renewable power energy contract within the Permian Basin is the primary signed by an oil firm.

Hallelujah! However, wait. Should we cheer?

Does bringing in renewable power within the Permian Basin — the quickest rising US oil area — even begin to make amends for ExxonMobil’s unimaginable, lasting, and shattering impacts on the planet of fossil gasoline drilling and burning? Fossil fuels are the most important supply of anthropogenic greenhouse fuel (GHG) emissions on the earth. Don’t we have to get fossil fuels out of our buildings to be able to slash US fossil gasoline use by 80% by 2050? And what about switching from inner combustion engines to electrical automobiles? How does ExxonMobil’s expansive drilling within the Permian Basin obtain these objectives, even with a nod to wind and photo voltaic?

ExxonMobil's renewable energy

Photograph courtesy Houston Chronicle

The Impacts of Fossil Fuels on the Surroundings

It is very important keep in mind as we weigh ExxonMobil’s renewable power commitments that an enormous acceleration within the extraction of fossil fuels has doubled their contribution to international warming since 1988. ExxonMobil introduced in early 2018 that it plans to triple complete every day manufacturing to greater than 600,000 oil-equivalent barrels by 2025 from its operations within the Permian Basin. Certainly, Trump administration modifications within the US company tax fee created an surroundings for ExxonMobil’s future capital investments, together with its plan to spend greater than $2 billion on transportation infrastructure to help its Permian extraction operations.

Bloomberg stories that the stakes are excessive for ExxonMobil and the Permian Basin, as its different international tasks similar to offshore manufacturing in Guyana gained’t add vital manufacturing till the early 2020s. ExxonMobil’s shares haven’t stored tempo with rivals, to the purpose that its market worth is simply $35 billion greater than Royal Dutch Shell Plc. A yr in the past the determine was $175 billion.

Once we burn oil, coal, and fuel, we contribute to the present international warming disaster. Burning fossil fuels produces giant portions of carbon dioxide, and these emissions create local weather change. They generate 42% of harmful mercury emissions, 2/three of sulfur dioxide emissions, and the overwhelming majority of soot in US air. Unearthing, processing, and shifting underground oil, fuel, and coal deposits takes an unlimited toll on our landscapes and ecosystems, in accordance with the Nationwide Assets Protection Council. It’s not solely drilling that provides to GHG emissions — the fossil gasoline business leases huge stretches of land for infrastructure resembling wells, pipelines, entry roads, in addition to amenities for processing, waste storage, and waste disposal.

The Union of Involved Scientists (UCC) reminds us that the prices of fossil fuels to our planet are each direct and hidden as they accrue at each level of the fossil gasoline provide chain. Extraction processes generate air and water air pollution and hurt native communities. Transporting fuels from their origins at mines or wells produces air air pollution and have incessantly brought about critical accidents and spills. Burning fossil emit toxins and international warming emissions. The manufacturing and transportation waste merchandise are hazardous to public well being and the setting. “Understanding these impacts is critical for evaluating the true cost of fossil fuels—and for informing our choices around the future of energy production,” the UCC argues.

ExxonMobil's renewable energy

ExxonMobil’s Renewable Energy within the Permian Basin towards its Backdrop of Enlargement

ExxonMobil beforehand introduced plans to construct and broaden manufacturing amenities within the US Gulf area as a part of its Rising the Gulf initiative. Strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing tasks within the US Gulf Coast area, the oil conglomerate will quickly embrace 11 main chemical, refining, lubricant, and liquefied pure fuel tasks at proposed new and present amenities alongside the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments are anticipated to proceed via at the very least 2022. This — like so many different ExxonMobil enlargement bulletins — was  couched within the notion of offering “long-term economic benefits to the region, noting the creation of direct employment opportunities and the multiplier effects of the company’s investments.”

ExxonMobil's renewable energy

Slower than different fossil gasoline corporations to hitch within the clear power sector, ExxonMobil has obtained contracts for the Permian in West Texas to be fulfilled by Ørsted. (Apparently, Ørsted had been the Danish state-run oil and fuel firm earlier than a rebrand and concurrent divestment of fossil gasoline belongings in 2017.) In late November, 2018, Ørsted outlined that the 2 250 MW energy buy agreements (PPAs) with ExxonMobil, referred to as the Permian Photo voltaic and Sage Draw Wind tasks, can be accomplished in Q2 2021 and Q1 2020, respectively. By means of its US subsidiary Lincoln Clear Energy, Ørsted has developed virtually 2 GW of renewable power tasks in California, New Jersey, and Texas.

ExxonMobil's renewable energy

Ørsted stated the mixture of photo voltaic and wind energy provide is designed to maximise the around the clock provide for a company shopper and an indication of “where onshore renewables are heading,” including that there was scope for “further synergies possible in long-term operations and capex.”

ExxonMobil spends about $1 billion a yr on various power analysis, stories The Unbiased. Don’t anticipate any of these tasks, which vary from algae engineered to bloom into biofuels and cells that flip emissions into electrical energy, nevertheless, to supply any business breakthroughs for at the very least a decade, in accordance with Vice President of Analysis and Improvement Vijay Swarup.

The firm claims it’s “committed to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions within our operations” whereas it additionally will increase “production of oil and natural gas to meet growing global energy demand.” Right here’s what they are saying they’re doing to mitigate GHG emissions.

  • “In the close to time period, we’re working to extend power effectivity and scale back flaring, venting, and different emissions in our operations.
  • In the medium time period, we’re deploying confirmed applied sciences similar to cogeneration and carbon seize and storage the place technically and economically possible.
  • Long run, we’re conducting and supporting analysis to develop breakthrough applied sciences. Since 2000, ExxonMobil has spent greater than $9 billion to develop lower-emission power options.”

Should we cheer? The firm is suppressing its plan to extend oil and fuel manufacturing with a pleasant little nod to renewables. (Editorial remark: I spit on you.)

ExxonMobil’s Historical past and Affect

ExxonMobil is the most important of the six multinational oil supermajors and one of many largest power corporations worldwide, with operations spanning from oil exploration and manufacturing, oil refining, retail fuel distribution, energy era, and chemical manufacturing. Exxon and Mobil each originate instantly from John D. Rockefeller’s Commonplace Oil Firm, merging in 1999 to grow to be ExxonMobil. The 1999 merger between Exxon and Mobil was controversial, because the creation of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and fuel firm created antitrust considerations. Heavy lobbying helped make sure the merger went by means of. In line with Polluter Watch, ExxonMobil has lengthy loved an in depth relationship with Congress and attracts upon its affect to run business operations on federal land.

Allow us to not overlook….

  • On March 24, 1989, the Exxon supertanker, Valdez, went aground off the coast of Alaska and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound, polluting greater than 700 miles of shoreline.
  • Mobil was sued in 1989 by the town of Torrance, California due to leaks of hydrofluoric acid and different well being and security issues on the firm’s refinery in that metropolis. The go well with cited quite a few situations of employee damage and demise on the refinery.
  • In 2001 Exxon Mobil agreed to pay $11.2 million to settle a 1990s federal case through which the corporate was accused of dumping waste with carcinogenic benzene into the Arthur Kill waterway of Staten Island in New York Metropolis—after which mendacity about its actions.
  • In 2005 a coalition of 12 environmental teams launched the Exxpose Exxon marketing campaign to give attention to the corporate’s local weather denial posture and its efforts in help of exploration and drilling within the Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.
  • In 2015 Inside Local weather News revealed an exhaustive expose on Exxon’s decades-long marketing campaign of local weather denial, together with the suppression of its personal analysis displaying the risks of greenhouse gases.
  • In 2017, ExxonMobil publicly endorsed actions to scale back GHG whereas additionally donating $1.5 million to 11 assume tanks and foyer teams that reject established local weather science.
  • In late 2017, the Environmental Integrity Venture questioned the Trump Administration settlement with ExxonMobil to resolve Clear Air Act violations at chemical crops. Their evaluation pointed to much less cleanup than marketed and weakened air pollution discount necessities at some amenities, based mostly on a evaluate. The consent decree was promoted by the Trump Administration for instance of its dedication to environmental regulation enforcement and covers flares at eight of ExxonMobil’s crops in Texas and Louisiana, together with the huge Baytown Chemical plant east of Houston. (Supply: Company Rap Sheet)

The Carbon Majors Report, ready by CDP and the Local weather Accountability Institute in July 2017, discovered that simply 25 firms have been answerable for half of all carbon emissions since 1988. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron led the listing. The report warned if fossil fuels proceed to be extracted on the similar price over the subsequent 28 years as they have been between 1988 and 2017, international common temperatures might be anticipated to rise by four° C by the top of the century. (Editorial remark: This can be a horrible solution to management the human inhabitants…) In fact, FoxBusiness authorised of this settlement, stating that the air pollution controls “are estimated to reduce harmful air emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by more than 7,000 tons per year. The settlement is also expected to reduce toxic air pollutants, including benzene, by more than 1,500 tons per year.”

Nice! Proper? Should we cheer that such a blatant polluter is decreasing its GHG emissions barely?

ExoonMobil's renewable energy

Graphic courtesy of Carbon Majors Report

Remaining Ideas

ExxonMobil, the most important publicly traded worldwide oil and fuel firm, is at a tenuous place in its historical past. As local weather activists take steps to incite coverage modifications to abate emissions, ExxonMobil finds itself more and more undermined in its business alternatives to monetize fossil gasoline reserves, in line with analysis carried out by MRS. As dangers to the business correlate with progress on local weather objectives,improved hyperlinks between GHG emissions and excessive climate occasions will intensify authorized danger to corporations like ExxonMobil.

What seems clear is that, as results of local weather change develop extra pronounced, the business faces a future that’s much less accepting of present practices.

Positive, if If ExxonMobil does set up a sample during which it attracts upon clear renewable power for operations, that may be a step in the appropriate course. “If we assume they are using it to power their own operations, this type of practice is becoming the norm,” stated Colin Smith, a senior photo voltaic analyst at Wooden Mackenzie Energy & Renewables. “Corporations see the lower energy costs or, at the very least, hedge against rising energy prices in order to be more competitive.”

However isn’t the extra necessary story right here that Massive Oil like ExxonMobil is constant to broaden operations in locations just like the Permian Basin, thereby exacting an unlimited toll on humanity and the surroundings—from air and water air pollution to international warming?

Humanity is at a local weather tipping level and faces an pressing problem: the phase-out of fossil fuels. Regardless of some progress with enhancing power effectivity and advancing renewable power, as has ExxonMobil introduced, we should considerably scale back GHG emissions by mid-century or face extreme, irreversible penalties for individuals, wildlife, economies, and societies throughout the globe. We should begin by calling out fossil gasoline corporations like ExxonMobil once they painting a brand new public picture of renewable power consciousness with out implementing lasting strategic enterprise planning to finish fossil gasoline drilling.

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Tags: Ørsted, Permian Photo voltaic, Sage Draw Wind

Concerning the Writer

Carolyn Fortuna Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a author, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She’s gained awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The Worldwide Literacy Affiliation, and The Leavy Basis. She’s molds scholarship into digital media literacy and studying to unfold the phrase about sustainability points. Please comply with me on Twitter and Fb and Google+

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