In his address to world leaders at COP28, Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods emphasized the importance of cutting emissions and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. At the climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Woods spoke at a panel discussion.
Many in attendance at the United Arab Emirates summit believe that COP28 can only be considered successful if an agreement is reached to “phase out” all fossil fuels, the combustion of which is the primary cause of the global catastrophe.
“We need to focus on the true problem here, which is emissions,” Woods said. “We need to find ways to reduce emissions while still meeting the world’s growing energy needs.”
Woods outlined Exxon Mobil’s plans to reduce its own emissions by 20% by 2030 and by 40% by 2040. He also said that the company is investing in carbon capture and storage technology, which can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“We are committed to doing our part to reduce emissions,” Woods said. “But we also need to work together as a global community to find solutions.”
“The complexity of the challenge of transitioning the energy system is coming more into focus,” with “a much more diverse group of people recognizing this is a hard problem to solve” and “we need big companies to help with that,” Woods said in an interview at the UN conference.
Woods’ attendance signaled a rising global attempt by oil and gas firms to reposition themselves as part of the solution to global warming rather than a cause. It was also the first time a CEO of fossil fuel giant Exxon (XOM.N) has visited one of the annual climate meetings hosted by the United Nations.
One of the conference’s main topics is the role fossil fuels and carbon capture technology will play in the future.
Woods’ comments were met with mixed reactions from environmental groups. Some praised Exxon Mobil for its commitment to reducing emissions, while others criticized the company for not doing enough.
“Exxon Mobil is finally starting to take climate change seriously,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “But they still have a long way to go.”
The Sierra Club also expressed concerns about Exxon Mobil’s plans. “Exxon Mobil’s carbon capture and storage technology is not yet proven to be commercially viable,” said Gloria Sosa, senior policy analyst at the Sierra Club. “We need to focus on real solutions, such as renewable energy.”