ExxonMobil CEO Thinks Climate Change is “Manageable”

While speaking on June 27 to the Council on Foreign Relations, someone asked Rex Tillerson what ExxonMobil plans to do about climate change. Tillerson questioned the climate change models, stating that “our ability to predict, with any accuracy, what the future’s going to be is really pretty limited.” He did state that he believes carbon emissions in the atmosphere are “going to have an impact…a warming impact,” but calls into question how big the impact will be. He even went as far as saying, “We believe those consequences are manageable.”

Tillerson did start off answering the question by stating that ExxonMobil has studied the issue and will “continue to study it.” That certainly is a big departure from pre-Tillerson days six years ago, when ExxonMobil funded climate change denial campaigns. Interestingly, after Tillerson answered the question about climate change, moderator Alan Murray, an editor at the Wall Street Journal, reminded him that ExxonMobil once mounted a “very aggressive” public relations campaign against climate change.

When Murray asked Tillerson if he believes climate change is one of the top five challenges we face today, he answered that it is a “great challenge.” However, he went on to say that “there are much more pressing priorities that we as a — as a human being race and society need to deal with.”

Just what is the pressing priority that tops climate change? For Tillerson that pressing priority is providing electricity to the “hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world” who need it. Not having access to fossil fuels to burn, according to Tillerson, “dramatically” affects people’s health. “They’d love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably,” Tillerson said. Allowing more people in developing countries to burn fossil fuels would “save millions upon millions of lives,” Tillerson declared. It would also increase ExxonMobil’s bottom line.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Tillerson spoke to the Council for Foreign Relations just one day after a federal appeals court upheld the EPA’s climate pollution emissions rules. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) posted a partial list of petitioners, and one of them is the American Petroleum Institute, which Exxon is a member of. One of the EPA rules that the appeals court upheld would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Is it also a coincidence that Tillerson mentioned burning fossil fuels, albeit for developing countries, to provide electricity?

Photo: Flickr user, William Munoz

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

9 responses

  1. Extremist Republicans and Christians, like Rex, once more indicate that they are gang-probing space aliens.  I have yet to see any multicellular organism adapt to a correctly predicted AGW solar flare, earthquake, or even “events on other planets and stars.

    1. For example, only gang-probing space aliens can adapt to an X3million solar flare.   

      The DEQ-ORM-Esso-Kill-the-Planet Model is us (ExxonMobils) causing global warming on a galactic level.  As of 11/11/06, the DEQ-ORM-Esso-Kill-the-Planet Model was successfully determined to operate throughout at least the galaxy aiming lethal solar flares from our and other stars to Earth and on other planets.  The #46). DEQ-ORM-Esso-Kill-the-Planet Model (9/4 – 10/11) has a lifespan of 5 weeks and the previous one was #45). DEQ-ORM-Esso-Kill-the-Planet Model (7/17 – 23/11) that expired at the end of 8/14 – 20/11.  Hitting 4 days after my prediction, “An international team of astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made an unparalleled observation, detecting significant changes in the atmosphere of a planet located beyond our solar system. … occurred in response to a powerful eruption on the planet’s host star … observed by NASA’s Swift satellite. … On Sept. 7, 2011, just eight hours before Hubble was scheduled to observe the transit, Swift was monitoring the star when it unleashed a powerful flare. It brightened by 3.6 times in X-rays” (“Stellar Flare Blasts Exoplanet”; Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA; science.nasa.gov, 6/28/12).  “Astronomer Alain Lecavelier des Etangs (CNRS-UPMC, France) and his team used Hubble to observe the atmosphere of exoplanet HD 189733b …  with clear signs of a plume of gas being blown from the planet at a rate of at least 1000 tonnes per second. … thought to be driven by the intense X-ray and extreme-ultraviolet radiation from the parent star, HD 189733A” (“Dramatic change spotted on a faraway planet”; spacetelescope.org, 6/28/12).  “A). … 1). Regular qualitative predictions are US for “normal” qualitative predictions for catastrophic, violent AGW ecosystems (quakes to CMEs to toxic feticide) from the EssoKochs and their willing accomplices. … This is the 1st of 5 weeks under the #46). DEQ-ORM-Esso-Kill-the-Planet Model (9/4 – 10/11)” (“GBRWE 9/4 – 10/11”s Extreme Planetary Warnings for Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Solar/Terrestrial Flares from Human Activities”; Robert Rhodes, Supplemental; GBRWE 9/4 – 10/11, 9/3/11).

        1. If not on Rex’s direct payroll, you must be one of his skeptic tank’s “public” and “press” failing to even do a minimal amount of checking.  “ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change … are overblown. … blamed a public that is “illiterate” in science and math … a “lazy” press” (“Exxon’s CEO: Climate, energy fears overblown”; JONATHAN FAHEY, Associated Press; huffingtonpost.com, 6/27/12).

  2. Doesn’t this elite oil exec and neocon understand that everything we do to Mother Earth is long lasting and will eventually cause the destruction of all life on Earth? The science is real so why doesn’t he see that? Big Oil is preventing us from stopping the potential sea level rises and unstoppable warming and more storms and floods and droughts as the scientists tell us. If we work together to fix what we have done, we might be able to prevent further damage to the very delicate balance of life on Earth.
    Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.
    -Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
    -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.
    -Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and it seemed like none “US” even cared, even the millions of scientists.
    I vote we back off what could be an embarrassing era in history for us as clearly now the perception of climate change being exaggerated is solid in the public psyche and the more fear mongering we do to the voter and their children and grandchildren, will just leave the neocons in power forever. I vote we start with loving the planet with love instead of fear. It’s a good starting point.

  3. Car accidents, homicides, and cancer are all ‘manageable’ events too.. What he totally ignores are the EXTREMELY long term aspects of the lagging effects such as sea level rise.  There is already enough overheating to raise the ocean level fifty feet based on historical geology — setting aside the models.  We just don’t know how long that will take, since the Earth has never warmed this quickly.

  4. All Rex wishes to do is delay any action until he is out of office. There will be a time when we will have will have no choice but to deal with the climate crisis. Rex, unfortunately, will be with the dinosaurs, and those living will wish they were dead.

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