Oil CEO: Humans are involved with climate change

Steam and smoke rise from a coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Steam and smoke rise from a coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

The leader of one of the world’s largest energy companies said this week that humans are accelerating climate change and the global community should take action to address the problem.

While speaking with reporters following the annual shareholders meeting of ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent oil company, its CEO said there was no doubting the role of humans in warming the planet.

“As a company we recognize the impact that humans are having on the environment and that CO2 is having an impact on what’s happening in the climate,” ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said.

The company’s stance is similar to that of other companies, like Exxon Mobil Corp., though other executives have so far been less explicit about the role of humans in causing a warming of the global climate.

Exxon Mobil has acknowledged that the climate is changing and has encouraged action to address the problem, even favoring a carbon tax over cap-and-trade efforts when singling out potential policy changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If governments consider the adoption of regulatory frameworks (to address climate change), we believe a well-designed, revenue-neutral carbon tax mechanism provides a cost-effective policy approach,” according to a statement on Exxon Mobil’s website.

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Lance was asked about climate change following reports over the weekend that a major climate change measure had “passed a long-feared milestone,” according to the New York Times.

As with many other energy giants, he said ConocoPhillips is taking action to reduce its effects on the climate.

“We know there is a lot of disagreement on both sides of that argument, but we think it’s the smart thing to do for the company to recognize that there is an impact and we’re trying to do the right things within our company to reduce our footprint,” Lance said.

He said the company is focused on reducing emissions and is investing in improving its energy efficiency in its fuel-heavy fossil fuel production efforts. Other companies have pursued the same goals, since reducing emissions can come with lower overall costs, particularly if companies employ more natural gas.

But when asked about the role of government in discouraging greenhouse gas emissions, Lance said it needed careful consideration, even though ConocoPhillips operates in countries with such rules.

“Today, many of our operations are governed by greenhouse gas regulations within the existing regulatory framework of the country,” Lance said. “So places like Canada, places like Europe, places like Australia already have greenhouse gas regulations and all of that framework set up. But we do think, as we think about this and try to tackle this issue as a global community, it needs to be tackled on a global scale and it needs to be industry blind. It needs to cut across all industries. you shouldn’t be picking on one industry or another to try to solve the problem.”