Exxon releases emissions data following investor pressure

By Kevin Crowley on 1/5/2021

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) --Exxon Mobil Corp. released emissions data on customers’ use of its petroleum products for the first time after coming under pressure from investors.

The oil giant’s so-called Scope 3 emissions from its production division were 570 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, according to the company’s Energy and Carbon Summary released Tuesday. That’s about the same as 146 coal-fired power plants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Most Western super majors already publish the information and Exxon is doing so because “stakeholders have expressed growing interest” in it, the company said in the report. However, the data “do not provide meaningful insight into the company’s emission-reduction performance and could be misleading in some respects.”

Exxon prefers to focus on Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which are within its direct control, rather than the use of its products, which depends on demand from customers. The Scope 3 data does not account for environmental benefits of increased production, such as higher natural gas sales reducing the use of dirtier coal, the company said.

Exxon has come under pressure from activist investors in recent weeks for its poor returns and environmental record. The company said last month that it would set new, more ambitious targets to reduce emissions per barrel of crude. But Exxon, like other publicly traded oil producers, only releases backward-looking emissions totals.

The company’s direct emissions were 120 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, 3.2% lower than 2018 and the lowest since at least 2010, it said Tuesday in the report.

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