Rex & Me: The Charlie Rose Show You must Have Seen Last Friday
Final Friday night, PBS discuss show host Charlie Rose devoted his total hour to ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson. Tillerson, 60, joined the oil and fuel big in 1975 as a production oil and gas production in mississippi engineer, climbed the company ladder, and changed Lee Raymond at the helm in 2006.
Tillerson sounds a lot more affordable than his crusty predecessor–who denied the reality of local weather change and referred to as environmental advocates “extremists”–however his agenda is pretty much the same. While Tillerson acknowledges that climate change is “a serious situation,” he remains to be all about oil and fuel–not growing cleaner alternatives–and that unwavering focus is figuring out properly for the corporate. ExxonMobil generated $forty four.9 billion in income final yr, simply shy of its 2008 record. But persevering with on this path, no matter its profitability, will have dire penalties. If the world winds up relying on fossil fuels for 80 percent of its energy in 2040, as Tillerson predicted throughout his chat with Charlie Rose, I’m positive ExxonMobil will take pleasure in one other banner 12 months, but we positively will not be having fun with the weather.
Rose requested Tillerson numerous open-ended questions on a spread of issues, including the Keystone pipeline, gasoline prices, local weather change, algae-based biofuels, and U.S. vitality coverage. And Rose did, at times, ask follow-up questions. But in practically each occasion, Rose listened politely, refrained from challenging Tillerson on the details, and went on to his subsequent query.
Let’s think about, for the sake of debate, that yours really was sitting at Rose’s oak table through the interview and had the chance to offer contradictory proof–precisely what Rose ought to have finished to keep Tillerson sincere. Below are phrase-for-word excerpts from Rose and Tillerson’s conversation that night with the addition of my commentary and the way I imagine Rose would introduce me and signal off at the top of the show.
Charlie Rose, March eight, 2013 (Bonus Edition)
Charlie Rose: Rex Tillerson is here. He is chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. It is the world’s largest refiner of petroleum products. …Right now he has positioned his company to capture the promise of a pure gas revolution because the world transitions to cleaner fuels, natural gasoline and electricity are anticipated to account for more than 60 p.c of the world’s energy demands by 2040.
Elliott Negin can also be here. He is director of news and commentary for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a leading science-based mostly advocacy organization. UCS has known as for dramatically decreasing carbon emissions, slicing projected oil use in half over the subsequent two a long time, and transitioning to scrub, renewable energy technologies to avoid some of the worst penalties of worldwide warming.
I am happy to have Rex Tillerson and Elliott Negin on this program. Welcome.
Rex Tillerson: Thanks, Charlie.
Elliott Negin: Good to be right here, Charlie.
Tillerson stresses “uncertainty” to cast doubt about local weather change
Rose (to Tillerson): Talking of global warming, how are you completely different than Lee Raymond, your predecessor who had outspoken views about world warming
Tillerson: Nicely, I feel in terms of my view of the place we discover ourselves on our understanding of worldwide warming, we have now continued to review this problem for decades. … With all of that [new information, better fashions, and extra competent analysis], though, the details remain there are uncertainties around the climate, local weather change, why it’s changing, what the principal drivers of climate change are.
And I believe the problem that I think is unfortunate in the general public discourse is that the loudest voices are what we name the absolutist, the people who find themselves completely certain that it is solely man-made and you can attribute the entire local weather change to nothing however man-made burning of fossil fuels. And on the other end of the talk, I’d say the absolutists who say there isn’t any relationship. And the truth of the matter, primarily based on our investigation, is it is somewhere in between.
Negin: Charlie, Rex’s absolutist argument is absolute malarkey. He’s organising a straw man. Climate scientists have never acknowledged that human activity, specifically burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical forests, is the sole trigger of global warming. That stated, in 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change concluded that “most” of the rise in common international temperatures since 1950 is “very doubtless” as a result of the increase in manmade carbon emissions.
As for the absolutists on the other facet, most of them have changed their place from outright denial to a extra nuanced “international warming is occurring however it is not caused by human activity,” or “it is not severe sufficient to do something about it, or “it would be too expensive to address.”
Rex needs to be conversant in these arguments. Over the last decade his firm has been financing a handful of fringe scientists and so-referred to as free-market think tanks that make them. My group published a study on ExxonMobil’s funding actions a 12 months after oil and gas production in mississippi Rex turned CEO. We discovered that between 1998 and 2005, ExxonMobil spent $16 million to assist forty three “contrarian” suppose tanks that dispute the fact of climate change. Simply after we launched the research in 2007, an ExxonMobil spokesman claimed the company stopped funding them. In truth, in line with the corporate’s tax filings via 2010, it is nonetheless funding quite a few them.
The link between international warming and extreme weather
Rose: We have had a series of weather incidents, and some people believe there is a link between these weather incidents, Hurricane Sandy and others, and what’s occurring in terms of global warming. Do you consider there is a few hyperlink
Tillerson: I have seen no scientific studies to verify. Not a particular storm, but nothing.
Rose: When it comes to these kinds of direct outcomes, you see no link
Tillerson: There was nothing to verify there is a link.
Negin: There may be, the truth is, substantial scientific evidence that there’s a robust link between global warming and heat waves and coastal flooding from sea-stage rise. There’s additionally a robust hyperlink to heavy precipitation and drought, depending on the region and time of the oil and gas production in mississippi 12 months.
The link is much less clear in terms of hurricanes, however there again, climate scientists anticipate them to be influenced by larger average temperatures. Higher temperatures are resulting in warmer sea floor temperatures during hurricane season, moister air, and higher storm surges as a result of sea levels are larger. There may be little doubt that Sandy was worse because sea-level rise led to more inland flooding.
Rose (to Tillerson): Right here is what I understand about your place on this. That this world has been able to adapt to many issues. And that it’s a manageable problem. That we can deal with global warming if we concentrate on it, if we understand it, and if the models are correct.
Tillerson: Well, I view international warming and local weather change as a serious risk. And I am in the chance management business. …In order I take a look at local weather change and world warming as a risk administration challenge for policymakers, then I think you undertake it like we handle all risks. You are taking sensible steps that can mitigate the risk by controlling the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by numerous the issues [carbon tax, power effectivity, regulation and public education] we talked about.
Negin: International warming is a serious threat, however we have to do more than control the growth of carbon emissions. We have to dramatically roll them back.
The big question for me, Rex, is for those who agree that we need to take what you call “smart steps” to chop carbon emissions, why is your organization and the rest of the oil industry trying to block progress Your commerce affiliation, the American Petroleum Institute, is suing to stop the federal authorities from enforcing the new greenhouse gas emission standards for brand new vehicles. These requirements have widespread help amongst automakers, unions, the federal authorities, state governments, scientists, engineers and the general public. Regardless, ExxonMobil and the rest of the oil trade is getting in the way of exactly the kind of wise step you say you help.
The future of fossil fuels and renewables
Rose: Should you look at the way forward for fossil fuels, how long are these sources of vitality going to be with us
Tillerson: Timber was the principal power source on the planet; then all of a sudden coal came into the image. It took about 50, 60 years for coal to displace timber and instantly crude oil was found and it took about 60, 70 years for crude oil and pure fuel. So it takes one hundred years or extra for some new breakthrough in power provide to penetrate the market sufficiently to turn out to be the dominant source. …
Most people I believe have issue coming to grips with the sheer enormity of vitality consumption. If we look at our personal vitality outlook–at things like renewable wind, solar, biofuels–now we have those sources of power over the following 30 years rising seven-hundred to 800 percent. However in the year 2040, they will supply just 1 p.c.
Rose: So what’s important is that as we look out there, there shall be sufficient conventional fuels, oil, natural fuel, coal to nonetheless power economies, whereas these new, newer sources are growing.
Tillerson: Now we have all the time mentioned that it will be important that we pursue all forms of energy as a result of we are a know-how-based mostly firm. We imagine in technology. However we also know that we now have an infinite duty. As a result of as I said, if I can look out for the subsequent 30 years, within the 12 months 2040, oil, pure gasoline and coal are still going to provide 80 p.c of the world’s earnings want, whether or not we want that to be the longer term or not, that’s simply going to be the details. So we’re in that business.
Negin: Properly, if that is the case, that fossil fuels can be supplying eighty p.c of the world’s energy demand in 2040, we’ll be lucky if we will have the ability to cope. Excessive heat waves in Russia, Europe and Chicago over the past 10 years have already claimed the lives of greater than a hundred thousand individuals. Rex’s headquarters is in Texas. He can let you know about the devastating drought that has been plaguing his state for the final two years. The long run Tillerson envisions can be the worst nightmare I could imagine.
I can offer you a rosier picture. I do know Rex is talking about energy worldwide. But let us take a look at what we can do here within the United States over the next few a long time. Wind, solar and other renewables now generate about 5 % of our electricity, but by 2030 they may produce greater than 40 percent, half coming from wind, according to a examine by my group, the Union of Involved Scientists. That would nearly substitute the share at the moment generated by coal, which is answerable for a lot of the U.S. utility sector’s carbon emissions. The Energy Division’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory also is bullish on renewables. In line with the lab, at present’s commercially out there renewable applied sciences could simply generate 80 p.c of U.S. electricity by 2050.
We can also slash oil consumption. The Obama administration already has finished us all an enormous favor by making the primary large improvements in fuel financial system for vehicles and light trucks since the yr Rex went to work for Exxon, and it additionally established the first ever U.S. global warming pollution standards for cars and trucks. The standards overlaying mannequin years 2012 by 2025 will minimize oil use by as a lot as three.1 million barrels per day by 2030. That is more than what we currently import from any nation, including Canada, which is now our largest provider. Those new standards additionally will scale back U.S. international warming pollution by as a lot as 570 million metric tons in 2030 alone. That’s the equal of taking 85 million of at the moment’s vehicles and trucks off the road for a whole yr. And the big bonus is this better gasoline mileage will save drivers $eight,000 over the life of a model year 2025 vehicle compared with the common vehicle on the highway right this moment. That is much less money going to ExxonMobil and more money in your pocket.
And we can make an even larger dent. We are able to double the gasoline financial system of economic vehicles–supply trucks, buses and massive rigs. We also can make planes, trains and ships a lot cleaner and extra environment friendly. Investments in electric autos and higher biofuels will make them a fantastic alternative for a lot of shoppers, permitting them to keep away from oil use altogether. And we can do all of that with technology that is already being developed. Engineers at the Union of Involved Scientists have tapped into these sorts of practical solutions and devised a way to chop projected U.S. oil use by 50 % over the next two a long time. We call it the “Half the Oil Plan.”
President Obama made local weather change considered one of his top priorities for his second term. He ought to be taking a look at these proposals from the National Renewable Vitality Lab and the Union of Involved Scientists to satisfy that promise.
Tillerson’s nationwide power precedence Undermine renewables
Rose (to Tillerson): Imagine this for a second. The president of the United States calls you and he says, Rex, I’d such as you to come back down to the White House and let’s have a dialog. What do we have to do, would you say to him what
Tillerson: Well, I believe we need to agree on our nationwide priorities round power. Much of what has been achieved thus far has been an unlimited amount of interference with that process of discovery. And it’s been done by well-intended folks. And i recognize that it’s been by nicely-meant individuals who want to promote the development of alternative vitality sources. …And whether that’s, you already know, battery expertise or whether or not it’s efficiencies in wind or whether it’s transmission techniques that behave in different ways. How do you want to supply the underlying analysis however then enable the business actions up here to move about in the free market
Rose: You’re saying much less regulation and more research.
Tillerson: More fundamental research, less mandates. I imply, wind has received subsidies for more than 20 years now. Perhaps if we took the subsidy off and it was challenged and needed to carry out, folks would take it to a brand new degree.
Rose: They have not needed to.
Tillerson: They have not had to. So I believe a variety of that is how do you wish to construction our pursuit of our future energy provides. And the president has said he’s a proponent of the entire above. And we’re, too. We’re, too. That is a really sensible technique.
Negin: Rex, it’s bizarre that your high national power priority is ending federal support for renewables. Particularly since it’s important that we do all we can to promote them and dramatically cut oil, pure fuel and coal.
You talked about that the federal government has been subsidizing the wind industry for more than 20 years. You need to pull the plug. But what about the oil and gas business’s subsidies and tax breaks
Charlie, do you know how long the government has been subsidizing oil and gasoline Since 1918. And do you know how a lot the trade has averaged yearly in tax breaks and subsidies since then A whopping $4.86 billion in as we speak’s dollars.
Renewables have gotten peanuts as compared. Between 1994 and 2009 they averaged solely $370 million a yr–less that 8 p.c of what the oil and gasoline corporations bought. Yes, the 2009 stimulus bundle offered $21 billion for renewables, but that assist hardly balances the scales that have tilted toward oil and gasoline for ninety five years and coal for more than two centuries.
One other method to take a look at it is to match vitality subsidies throughout the first 15 years every technology received federal assist, which is a vital time to get tasks off the ground. For every expertise’s early years on the dole, the federal government spent in inflation-adjusted dollars an annual average $1.Eight billion on oil and gasoline and lower than $400 million on renewables.
The question just isn’t whether or not the federal authorities ought to subsidize power. It clearly has a role to play. The question is should taxpayers continue to underwrite extraordinarily worthwhile, mature companies–especially highly polluting ones like ExxonMobil–on the expense of nurturing new, promising carbon-free alternatives No. The apparent reply is not any.
Both of you guys are old sufficient to do not forget that saying from the late ’60s: “If you’re not a part of the answer, you’re part of the problem.” Effectively, ExxonMobil is not only part of the issue, it is the issue.
So please, Rex, spare me. ExxonMobil ought to stop attempting to kill off renewables, and it ought to cease funding assume tanks that mislead the public about climate change. You and your suppose tanks are all about the free market relating to renewables, calling for an end to their subsidies. However you are socialists when it comes to protecting the oil and fuel business’s billions in subsidies and tax breaks. Is not it time that ExxonMobil received off the dole so we are able to shift treasured taxpayer assets to solutions that will help resolve local weather change, not make it worse
Rose: We’ve run out of time, gentlemen. Thanks. Thank you for joining us.
Tillerson: My pleasure, Charlie.
Negin: Thanks, Charlie. A lot appreciated.
Rose: Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest firm in the world in terms of market capitalization. Elliott Negin, the director of reports and commentary on the Union of Concerned Scientists. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.
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