Exxon and Other Oil Companies Propose Climate-Capture Initiatives
Authored by Eric Przybyl
One of the big issues facing the world right now is climate change. And while there has been a lot of discourse surrounding this issue, there seems to have been little action taken, which is likely due to the disagreement on how to go about solving the problem. Even though carbon emissions have decreased 14% since 2007 in the USA, it is not a stretch to say that the complete decarbonization of the grid would be extremely costly and unrealistic.
USA Total CO2 Emissions (Million Metric Tons)
Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data
According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the earth’s temperature has already increased 0.6 degrees celsius from pre-industrial averages, and it is likely to increase at least another degree in the next century even with extreme decarbonization efforts, so it is clear that different approaches must be looked at. A relatively new solution that has been gaining more recognition among corporations and the public alike is carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), which is the ability to capture and store carbon dioxide from the source before it can enter the atmosphere.
Controversially, though, some of the biggest funders of this method of fighting climate change are big oil companies such as Exxon. This is what is talked about in David Blackmon’s piece for Forbes magazine entitled Exxon-Led Carbon Capture Project is Key to Sustained Economic Growth. Here Blackmon describes the efforts of Exxon and 10 other oil companies in proposing a $100 billion CCUS facility centered on the Houston Area. He argues that projects like this, which Sylvester Turner hopes can help make “Houston the carbon capture capital of the world,” are the key to maintaining economic growth while combating climate change. This is in response to criticism by climate activists who say that this initiative is just an excuse to keep polluting, and that the true goal should be complete decarbonization and negative economic growth.
If this technology is to be successful, though, it is necessary that it reaches scale quickly, as we currently emit around 33 billion tons of CO2 per year worldwide, where our current carbon capture capacity is around 40 million tons. This is crucial for both the health of the planet and the economy, as, if successful, it could help eliminate the ultimatum of choosing to hurt the economy while helping the planet and vice versa, and could help us have sustained economic growth while averting the worst effects of climate change.