America’s biggest oil firm announces 2050 net zero emissions target in its oil and gas operations, but excludes any plans to reduce emissions from products it sells to customers. 

ExxonMobil has announced an “ambition” to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero across its oil and gas operations by 2050 as part of the US oil and gas giant’s first major pledge to take action against climate change. 

“This is more than just a pledge,” ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods said during an interview with CNBC. “We’ve been doing work for several years now to make sure we were confident that we had a line of sight on how to achieve this.”

The oil company has previously refused to set a 2050 net zero target while many of its European rivals including BP and Shell have made commitments to cut down emissions and address the climate crisis. Many consider the announcement to be major progress for the largest Western oil explorer. 

According to the company, it will develop and publish a series of roadmaps over the next two years on how to reduce emissions at each of its crude refineries, chemical plants and other facilities by deploying various high- and low-cost measures. These will include eliminating routine flaring of natural gas and methane leaks from its facilities and using renewables to power its operations. 

Exxon will also seek to implement a carbon tax and invest in carbon capture and storage, as well as hydrogen technologies to help reach its net zero target. 

“As we invest in these important technologies, we will advocate for well-designed, high-impact policies that can accelerate the deployment of market-based, cost-effective solutions,” said Woods. Peter Trelenberg, Exxon’s manager for environmental policy and planning, added that the company would consider offsetting emissions that the company was unable to eliminate with carbon credits. 

However, the newly announced pledge stopped short of committing to slashing carbon emission from products, such as gasoline and jet fuel, that Exxon sells to consumers, which comprises the bulk of pollution in the oil industry. 

Exxon’s plants and other facilities released the equivalent of 111 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, down 6% from the previous year and the lowest in a decade, the company said in a report. But emissions released from its products racked up to 540 million tons, which is nearly five times more. 

The announcement also comes amid eight California cities and counties accusing Exxon and other oil firms of breaking state laws by misrepresenting the threat posed by climate change. America’s largest oil firm is requesting the Texas supreme court to dismiss the lawsuits, claiming that its history of denying climate change is protected under the first amendment of the US constitution.

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