Exxon Mobil Corp. entered 2020 with a multi-year growth plan projected to significantly increase its greenhouse-gas emissions. Then came Covid-19 and criticism from activist investors over its record on climate and financial returns.
Now the year will end with Exxon setting new, more ambitious targets to reduce emissions per barrel of oil and disclose, for the first time, data on pollution-related to customers’ use of its fuels.
The Irving, Texas-based company said Monday it will reduce upstream emissions intensity — those caused by pumping oil and gas from the ground — by as much as 20% by 2025 as well as cutting flaring and methane leaks. Exxon described its new plan as consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.
Like Chevron Corp., Exxon’s climate goals are linked to reducing emissions intensity, meaning less pollution per barrel of oil produced, as opposed to cutting absolute emissions. That leaves the company wiggle room to increase its overall contribution to climate change in the future if crude output grows.
“This was a company that was way behind the industry in terms of how they were thinking about a low-carbon world,” Aeisha Mastagni, a fund manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest U.S. public pension fund, said in an interview. “The fact that they’re just now getting on board to announce some of those reduction plans tells us a lot about their long-term strategy.”