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Exxon Admits Global Warming is Real
Star Telegram
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
February 13, 2007

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil Chairman Rex Tillerson told a world energy conference today that "there is no question that the world's climate is getting warmer," and said that technological advances and a global strategy will be needed to combat the rise in carbon emissions.

"It is foolish for individual countries to engage in their own actions because it won't do much more than make them feel good," Tillerson said. "It is particularly important for the emerging economies of the Pacific Rim, where the biggest increases in carbon emissions will occur, to take part in the discussions."

Tillerson's remarks, to the annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference, marked a continuation of Exxon Mobil's growing strategy to make itself part of the global climate debate rather than denying that the problem exists. More than 2,000 people from 44 countries are attending the CERA conference.

Tillerson also said Exxon doesn't feel threatened by the rising interest in alternative or renewable energy.

"We don't feel threatened by alternative or renewable energy," he said. "We welcome it. But we have to remember that in the huge scale of energy demand, fossil fuels will account for at least two-thirds of energy consumption for at least the next 25 years."

Tillerson said the Irving-based multinational oil giant has devoted relatively little money to alternative and renewable energy, aside from a research project at Stanford University, "because we are a petroleum company. That's what we do, and we do it well."

"We want to be able to add value to new energy, besides just money," Tillerson said at a news conference following his speech. "Money isn't the problem in renewable energy."

Tillerson didn't offer specific actions that nations should adopt to combat climate change but said technology can provide the bulk of the answers.

"The public and policymakers are largely unaware of the improved technologies that make our industry so much more efficient and reduce our environmental footprint," said Tillerson, a native of Wichita Falls who succeeded Lee Raymond as Exxon Mobil chairman 14 months ago.

Tillerson spoke of what he called a disconnect between the oil industry and the media and policymakers over energy and environmental issues. He noted that while politicians think in terms of two or four-year election cycles, "the energy industry thinks in terms of a two- or four-decade cycle for project development."

He added that additional taxes on the energy industry would impede investment in expanded energy production.

"It is important to share our understandings of the industry with the public and policymakers," Tillerson said. He noted, for example, that Exxon Mobil's huge oil project that has just begun off Sakhalin Island on the Pacific side of Russia is tapping reserves first discovered in the 1970s and only developed in the last decade.

For all the talk of alternative and renewable energies, Tillerson said, it must be acknowledged that fossil fuels are likely to provide the bulk of the worldwide demand for oil, expected to rise by 40 percent through the year 2030.

Dan Piller, 817-390-7719


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