In a major reversal, U.S. oil and gas heavyweights – including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum – announced they have joined a global coalition to address climate change.
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The news, which was first reported by Axios, is one of the strongest signs yet that the tide is shifting for American oil and gas producers, who have come under fire in recent years for downplaying the risks of greenhouse gas emissions.
Exxon, Chevron and Occidental are now the first U.S. energy companies to join the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative that was launched in 2014 by founding members, Saudi Aramco, Shell, BP and others. The companies previously passed on joining the coalition when it launched.
Each member of the coalition pledges to cut emissions and boost energy efficiency in addition to contributing to a $1 billion fund to support clean tech and alternative business models. Globally, the group has 13 member companies.
Exxon Chairman and CEO Darren Woods released a statement following the news, saying “it will take the collective efforts of many in the energy industry and society to develop scalable, affordable solutions that will be needed to address the risks of climate change.”
Exxon in particular has come under pressure by activist groups following a series of investigations that showed the company knew about the dangers of climate change, while publicly downplaying the risks and misleading investors. A campaign called #ExxonKnew has even sparked a lawsuit by state attorneys.
Environmental scientist and climate change expert Dr. Jonathan Foley said it’s good to see some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies acknowledge climate change and begin to take responsibility for it.
“This is a welcome step, albeit decades late,” Foley, who will debut a new film on climate change this week called “Let Science Speak,” said.