On the same day that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest, alarming working group report, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres declaring it “moral and economic madness” to invest in new fossil infrastructure, ExxonMobil announced a US$10-billion final investment decision on an offshore drilling project in Guyana.
The U.S.-based colossal fossil is trying to frame the Yellowtail project in Guyanese waters as part of the “energy transition,” DeSmog reports.
“Yellowtail’s development further demonstrates the successful partnership between ExxonMobil and Guyana, and helps provide the world with another reliable source of energy to meet future demand and ensure a secure energy transition,” said Liam Mallon, president of ExxonMobil Upstream Company. “We are working to maximize benefits for the people of Guyana and increase global supplies through safe and responsible development on an accelerated schedule.”
Except that those maximized benefits haven’t been working out so well, with Guyana losing political and economic stability as it becomes a nascent petro-state.
The disconnect between the Exxon statement and the IPCC’s deep urgency suggests “two markedly different trajectories for 2025,” and “seems all the more glaring given that ExxonMobil itself has been an active participant in the IPCC ‘since its inception in 1988’,” DeSmog writes, citing a company report. “Exxon’s announcement that it plans to continue to pour billions of dollars into nonetheless expanding fossil fuel production—not just in Guyana but around the world—sends a strong message about the direction the company plans to steer, despite the warnings flowing from the IPCC, with consequences for us all.”
The collision between the IPCC report and Exxon’s latest investment decision is part of a continuing litany of bad behaviour from a company that first understood the science of the climate emergency in 1977, but chose to spend decades sowing confusion and bankrolling climate denial groups rather than taking action. In late January, Exxon was under renewed pressure to get serious about downstream, or Scope 3, emissions that pushed its total carbon pollution to 730 million tonnes of CO2 or equivalent as recently as 2019.
“Organizations and investors are piling pressure on U.S.-based oil and gas major… after it published a progress report on its commitment to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2050,” Sustainability Magazine reported at the time. The story described the company’s critics “recoiling” from its “flimsy decarbonization strategy” through 2030.
A couple of months later, with companies entering this year’s round of annual shareholder meetings, Exxon is asking its investors to vote down a resolution calling on it to get its Scope 3 emissions under control. Company management “specifically rejects accountability for the emissions of its products by calling Scope 3 accounting methods ‘duplicative and flawed’,” writes Amsterdam-based Follow This, in an email urging responsible investors to support the Scope 3 resolution at Exxon’s annual gathering May 25.