Energy and Global Warming News for May 28th: Exxon Mobil says transition from fossil fuel is century away, China plans tougher fuel standards than U.S.

Climate change and peak oil mean nothing to the blinkered, bloated oil behemoth.

Exxon Mobil Says Transition From fossil fuel Is Century Away

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest refiner, said the transition away from oil-derived fuels is probably 100 years away.

Petroleum-based fuels including gasoline and diesel, as well as hydrocarbons such as coal and natural gas, will remain the dominant sources of energy for factories, offices, homes and cars for decades because there are no viable alternatives, Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told reporters today after Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholders meeting in Dallas.

No surprise that the oil giant spends bupkis on renewable energy — and that, as a different article reports, “Shareholders of Exxon Mobil rejected proposals on Wednesday to prohibit its chief executive from serving as chairman and to increase spending on renewable fuel.”

And here’s another non-shocker.  Tillerson says:

“If we’re going to place a price on carbon, let’s do that in the most efficient way. A carbon tax is more efficient than a tax that’s applied by way of a cap-and-trade mechanism.”

Carbon politics makes strange bedfellows!  see Nobelist Krugman strongly endorses Waxman-Markey: “The claim that carbon taxes are better than cap and trade is, in my view, just wrong.”

And here’s yet another non-shocker from the leading funder of climate denial advocacy over the past decade:

Tillerson, 57, said lawmakers are hurrying to restrict greenhouse gases when many scientific questions surrounding the global warming issue remain unresolved.

“The point of conflict that I find more often than not are the projections that some make regarding how serious the problem may become and at what pace of acceleration it may occur,” Tillerson told investors at the shareholders meeting. “All of those models have deficiencies in the way they’re constructed and the assumptions that go into the models and the limitations of the data.”

Tillerson, a University of Texas-trained engineer, said climate change is a “serious risk-management issue” for Exxon Mobil. The company will continue to fund scientific research into climate science and the impact of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere, he said.

“We’re going to be very forthright in not accepting something that is not completely scientifically proven,” Tillerson said. “We’re not skeptics. We’re just approaching this the way we would approach any scientific challenge, and it’s a serious challenge.”

Yes, I fully agree that many scientific questions surrounding the global warming issue remain unsolved.  For instance, we don’t know whether unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions would be an unmitigated catastrophe for the next 50 generations to walk the earth or the end of human civilization as we know it.  Let’s fund more “research” into that crucial question before acting too hastily.

China Is Said to Plan Strict Gas Mileage Rules

Worried about heavy reliance on imported oil, Chinese officials have drafted automotive fuel economy standards that are even more stringent than those outlined by President Obama last week, Chinese experts with a detailed knowledge of the plans said on Wednesday.

The new plan would require automakers in China to improve fuel economy by an additional 18 percent by 2015, said An Feng, a leading architect of China’s existing fuel economy regulations who is now the president of the Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation, a nonprofit group in Beijing….

Cars with small fuel-sipping engines are now subject to a 1 percent sales tax, while sports cars and sport utility vehicles with the largest engines are subject to a 40 percent sales tax. Stricter fuel economy standards have won support from four interest groups within the Chinese government….

Mr. An estimated that the average new car, minivan or sport utility vehicle in China already gets the equivalent of 35.8 miles a gallon this year based on the American measurement system of corporate averages and will be required to get 42.2 miles a gallon in 2015.  By comparison, President Obama announced last week that each automaker will be required to reach a corporate average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Chu decries ‘over-obsession’ with emission targets

Secretary Steven Chu said earlier this week there has been too much emphasis on setting exact target numbers for carbon emissions.

“There was a great deal of discussion on the Kyoto targets, and I’m not really sure which fraction of the countries that took part in that actually met their targets,” Chu said at a London conference. “In terms of the targets, whether it’s 17 percent or 20 or 25 percent, I think there’s perhaps an over-obsession on these percentages.”

In China, Pelosi Calls for Cooperation on Climate

In a speech on Tuesday in Beijing, Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, called the climate change issue “a game changer in the U.S.-China relationship” and “an opportunity we cannot miss.”

“We are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world,” she said, at a meeting of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum, an alliance of Chinese economic officials and American leaders from business and government. “We have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other and to the world. We must work together.”

Chrysler asks for DOE cash to develop plug-in fleet

Chrysler LLC is asking for $224 million from the Energy Department to help develop plug-in electric vehicles, including a hybrid version of its Dodge Ram pickup truck, the battered automaker said yesterday.

The federal cash would come from two DOE initiatives — the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative and the Transportation Electrification Initiative — both of which are aimed at speeding development, demonstration and manufacturing of hybrid-electric and all-electric vehicles.

The funds would come in the form of grants from the two programs, which are separate from the $25 billion DOE loan program created in Section 136 of the 2007 energy law.

‘Green’ retrofits begin in Houston

TAC Americas Inc., a unit of the French energy services company Schneider Electric SA, has begun measuring and reducing the energy use of seven municipal buildings as part of a $9.6 million contract with the city of Houston.

The building retrofit work, which began this month, comes as part of a global program spearheaded by the William J. Clinton Foundation. The former president’s Clinton Climate Initiative is using more than $5 billion from banks and other sources to reduce building energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in 39 cities around the world.

Shining a (Natural) Light on Green Schools

Faced with a large stock of deteriorating public school buildings, school districts across the country are experimenting with new construction and renovations that save energy as well as improve educational facilities.

Even though Congress cut the $16 billion originally proposed for school construction from the stimulus bill, the U.S. Department of Education will award states $48.6 billion under the bill’s fiscal stabilization fund to fill budget gaps in public schools and universities. School construction, renovation and repair projects can qualify for the money if it’s applied to “green” buildings.

Smaller Cars Earn Top Marks in Safety Tests

A study of car safety released on Wednesday shows that four of the top-scoring automobiles in tests of five new models were small cars or so-called super-minis “” including the Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20, Kia Soul and Peugeot 3008.

The study, conducted by Euro N.C.A.P., a group that campaigns for automobile safety, was backed by European governments and motoring and consumer organizations. The results, the study’s authors said, show that in “these economically challenging times, consumers who wish to downsize their cars can still place safety at the top of their wish list.”

Shellfish Face An Uncertain Future In High Carbon Dioxide World

Overfishing and disease have decimated shellfish populations in many of the world’s temperate estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Smithsonian scientists, led by Whitman Miller, ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., have discovered another serious threat to these valuable filter feeders””rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contribute to the acidification of open ocean, coastal and estuarine waters.

Their findings are being published in PLoS One.

Hot times ahead for the Wild West

Extreme temperatures are expected to become more common in the western United States by 2040 if greenhouse gases continue to rise, researchers say.

Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and his colleagues simulated climate change for the United States in decade-long periods from 2000 to 2039 using a climate model that divided the land into areas just 25 kilometres square. It is the first time that the region’s temperature extremes have been modelled at such high resolution. The new projections were reported on 26 May at the joint assembly of the American Geophysical Union in Toronto, Canada.

World CO2 up 39 percent by 2030 without new policy: EIA

Global emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will jump more than 39 percent by 2030 without new policies and binding pacts to cut global warming pollution, the top U.S. energy forecast agency said on Wednesday.

Climate health costs: bug-borne ills, killer heat

Tree-munching beetles, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and deer ticks that spread Lyme disease are three living signs that climate change is likely to exact a heavy toll on human health.

These pests and others are expanding their ranges in a warming world, which means people who never had to worry about them will have to start. And they are hardly the only health threats from global warming.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten

16 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 28th: Exxon Mobil says transition from fossil fuel is century away, China plans tougher fuel standards than U.S.

  1. Perhaps it would speed things up if we nationalized all carbon fuel companies.

  2. John Mashey says:

    “And here’s yet another non-shocker from *the* leading funder of climate denial advocacy over the past decade:” (*the* is mine).

    Do we *know* that? Specifically, I always wonder about the actual level of funding form the foundations, like Koch and Scaife, for example.
    See DeSMogBlog on funders.

    (I’d have no quibble with *a* leading funder. :-))

    Obviously, given the size and complexity of the money-laundering effort, it is very hard to tell. But really, if the DeSMogBLog nubmers are indciative, many fronts can perfectly well say “we get no money from ExxonMobil”. EM could totally stop funding this directly, and the difference would be barely noticeable.

    How about an article or two on the foundations?

  3. paulm says:

    >Perhaps it would speed things up if we nationalized all carbon fuel companies.

    Yes, this will be the only way things will happen in any practical time scale. More and more of us are realizing this.

    I believe Obama realizes this too, and is plotting a path forward.
    It works more smoothly when there is a reasonable level of consensus.

  4. paulm says:

    Carbon trading and cash values on forests cannot curb carbon emissions

    Climate change solutions cannot be created by unfettered markets, despite what business leaders think

    The underlying problem is that business adjusts the problem of climate change to neoliberal economics, which judges value according to financial cost rather than environmental sustainability or social justice.

  5. paulm says:

    Cyclone Aila

    According to the Associated Press, some 2.3 million people ! were affected by Aila, many of them stranded in flooded villages. Storm surges in Bangladesh flooded agricultural areas with salty water. Home to roughly 25,000 residents, the coastal island Nijhum Dwip was reported to be completely submerged. As of May 27, 2009, many rural villages had not yet been reached by relief workers, and the death toll was expected to rise significantly as search and rescue efforts continued.

  6. Pat Richards says:

    Exxon is just trying to talk up its stock price, which has been in the toilet for 9 months now. The other oil companies are doing the same (which is why Shell, which had been pushing its clean enegy projects strongly long before oil prices doubled last year, recently announced they were scaling back on their green stuff for now… to reassure investors that management is “focused on their core business” during these tough economic times).

    But hell, nobody with half a brain could honestly believe there’s enough crude oil left in this planet to last another 100 years at our recent consumption levels (much less Exxon executives, who really know what the potential size of worldwide oil reserves and future demand are). Two years ago president George W. Bush announced 2025 as a date by which America really needed to do have done something about its oil addiction (he didn’t say what, exactly). That speech wasn’t based on environmental concerns, but upon the information he was privy to that the oil is running out.

    I think Big Oil is just getting desperate in this terrible global stock market and economic recession. But, as a ploy to reassure Wall Street about their future health, making absurd and impossible 100-year predictions like this is more likely to have the opposite effect and cause the large corporate investors to think twice about buying their stock right now.

  7. James Newberry says:

    If federal taxpayers own substantial parts of financial institutions that own coal plants, then I think a mandatory phase out of coal should be on the legislative table. The clean energy and conservation/weatherization jobs potential would be in the millions with many in manufacturing.

    Also, if we own some of the “transportation industry,” why not put auto workers back to work with a transformed industry manufacturing autonomous streetcar systems (self propelled) and revitalizing a complete national rail system, again providing millions of good jobs.

    It is time to reinvent America.

  8. Sasparilla says:

    I have to hand it to Exxon Mobil, they are remarkably consistent in their message – no greenwash from them. 100 Years, hilarious, even without the actions we’re starting to take as a nation, Peak Oil would force this transition much, much sooner – and they know it. They better hope they can sabotage the EV and PHEV production and sales plans and get us to bet on H2 like we did with George – so we’ll be stuck counting on Oil longer.

    Seems Exxon Mobil (and Oil industry in general) wants to do whatever it can to delay the transition from Oil (no matter the consequences to its home country’s or the Globe’s overall interests) for as long as possible (too bad treason doesn’t fall into the realm for these “citizens”, corporations) – the profits it’ll see as we go through peak oil here shortly will make 2008’s look like chump change and they want that for as long as possible. They’ll do whatever they can to push that path, expect continued over the table and under the table duplicity (including outright sabotage of the EV vehicle movement if they can) from this industry as its long term profits are backed into a corner. The most powerful, richest industry in the world will do what it wants no matter the consequences to humankind.

    “Perhaps it would speed things up if we nationalized all carbon fuel companies.”

    Great quote and made me laugh just thinking about it, boy would that fix them. Although it won’t happen in the United States we live in today (and the government would end up wanting the money from the oil anyways, pumping it out of the ground and selling it).

  9. oxnardprof says:

    With respect to the article on fuel economy standards in China, please see this areticle from the LA Times:,0,7594127.story

    The article did not make mention of the impact of increased ownership in China, and the government does appear to be offering strong incentives to promote new car purchases, apparently to stimulate consumption.

    It is gratifying to see that China is enhancing fuel efficiency requirements, but both there and in India, there are potentially BILLIONS of latent personal vehicles. Even at 42 MPG, this is not a good thing.

  10. David B. Benson says:

    Richard Pauli — Yup, expropriate!

  11. Leland Palmer says:

    It’s a nice fantasy to think about nationalizing ExxonMobil, but it just ain’t likely.

    Some of us believe that ExxonMobil is a part of a vast, mostly hidden Rockefeller financial empire. Sociologist Thomas R. Dye said that the Rockefeller financial empire included control of over one hundred major U.S. corporations, during its peak a couple of decades ago.

    I’m not sure that there was a peak, myself. I think that the Rockefeller family may have just gotten better at hiding its control. I think personally that the heirs of what Wikipedia lists as the richest man the planet has ever seen, John D. Rockefeller, may have built upon JDR’s methods of hiding wealth and industrial control.

    Some authors of books on the Rockefellers have noted that much of their wealth is contained in tax free trusts, and so hidden by law from public view. Many have pointed out that such trusts can also contain other trusts, so that one trust could potentially hide a whole network of financial control of industrial wealth. Some authors have questioned the charity of charitable foundations, and noted that if the trustees of such foundations are controlled, then the voting rights of the stock which capitalizes such foundations are retained. Some authors, Dye among them, point out a huge network of interlocking corporate directorships, in which one individual sits on the board of directors of several different corporations. Some authors have pointed out that many of the traditionally Rockefeller dominated corporations seem to be immune from hostile takeovers.

    So, it’s a nice fantasy to think about nationalizing ExxonMobil. But the truth is that Exxon and JPMorgan/Chase, and in fact many of the corporations traditionally dominated by the Rockefellers, have made out like bandits from both the Bush years and from our recent “financial crisis”. JPMorganChase gobbled up Bear Sterns and WaMu, ending up as maybe the strongest bank in the country, with close to 2.5 trillion in assets, during our recent “crash”.

    ExxonMobil made maybe an extra hundred billion dollars, and maybe as much as two hundred billion dollars, in extra profits resulting from the Iraq invasion.

    The CIA has often seemed to operate like a Rockefeller security force, overthrowing governments that threatened to nationalize oil fields or engage in land reform abroad. Nelson Rockefeller has had immense influence on Latin America, and may have been at least partially responsible for policies of torture and death squads there.

    It’s a nice fantasy, but these traditionally Rockefelller dominated corporations are more and more becoming the government and the economy, along with organizations like the CFR.

    If you go to TheyRule, and load the map “The Magnificent Seven” you can see that 7 interlocked directors of JPMorganChase sat on the boards of directors of maybe fifty other corporations. It’s an interesting map to look at, and may actually say something about the structure of this supposed financial empire.

    The domestic wiretapping of the Bush administration may have also given this empire a complete social network map of the U.S. In other words, this industrial empire may know in extreme detail who literally sleeps with whom.

    This may in fact be what caused the downfall of both Elliot Spitzer and John Edwards, both of whom were brought down by sexual scandal, after causing this “corporatocracy” trouble.

    So, we’ll fight back, I guess, since the future of the biosphere itself appears to be at stake.

    But, it’s not going to be easy, to accomplish any significant reforms.

  12. Barry says:

    Exxon isn’t even planning on being in business in 100 years.

    Tillerson has been pouring the majority of the profits into the short-term stock price while production declines.

    In 2008 Exxon set all-time global profit record of $45b. They spent $40b on stock buyback and dividends. Capital expenses were flat. Production declined 3%. In the last four years Exxon has spent $100b just on share buyback while capital expenses were flat and production declined.

    Each year Exxon has fewer shares and less oil to sell. By design.

    It is a “peak profits from peak oil” strategy.

    One article I read said at the current rate, Exxon will sell it’s last share and last barrel of oil and cease to exist in less than twenty years.

    The diamond cartel figured it out first. Pull it out of the ground slowly. Keep demand high. Sell at “excess demand” price…not the much lower “cost of supply” price.

    As a NYT biz article pointed out “Exxon kept its head when everyone else was going crazy going to alternatives and drilling more”. Finding new supply requires an ever-increasing and unbelievably huge long term investment with an uncertain return. Buybacks yield safe and instant results.

    While the red meat crowd might be urging “drill baby drill” the consummate insiders are quietly raking in the profits from “buyback baby buyback”.

    If even Exxon is reducing its exposure to fossil fuels by several percentage points per year…maybe the rest of us should too!

  13. Charles says:

    “All of those models have deficiencies in the way they’re constructed and the assumptions that go into the models and the limitations of the data.”

    And yet he can rely on models and assumptions and limitations of data which tell him fossil fuels will be the fuels of choice for the next hundred years ….

  14. Gary says:

    Barry, what’s the source for your argument that Exxon is using its profits to buy back stock rather than reinvesting in renewable energy? If that’s true, then it’s pretty shocking. Additionally, while China’s national government may pass very environmentally friendly legislation like high fuel standards, it’s much harder for those national environmental regulations to be implemented at local factories where local governments are much much more corrupt.

  15. CO2 up 39% by 2030: We are now at 430 ppm equivalent. Did anybody notice that
    430 X 1.39 = 597.7 ?

    [JR: Emissions do not equal concentrations. This analysis is wrong. We’re rising about 2 ppm a year. Probably hit 2.5 by 2030. Still very bad.]

    Approximately 600 ppm equivalent by 2030!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is an UNDER estimate because the rate of increase is accelerating even faster due to natural feedbacks that have already kicked in. 2030-2009 = 21 years. 21 more years = 2051. 600X 1.39= 834 21 more years = 2072 834X 1.39 = 1159 which is higher than our extinction point of 1000 ppm equivalent when H2S bubbles out of the ocean. H2S kills everybody and almost every thing. We do not have to wait a whole century to go extinct, even if we have to wait for H2S to do it to us. We have about half a century to live, max, NOT half a century to work on lowering our CO2. Action must be much more extreme than anything proposed in Washington.

  16. How does this make sense?

    Fed Largess Minister John Baird tells Miller to f off, Miller capitalises and streetcars worth $1.2 billion are bought and it happens. I love it when rules aren’t followed at all.

    Thankfully Toronto didn’t need any work done on parks, roads, bridges and sewers or anything else that could get unemployed folks off the EI rolls and working and build needed infrastructure immediately.