2000 Economist article – “Big business bows to global warming”

An article marking a shift in the chemical and petroleum industry’s acknowledgement of global climate change and its relationship to carbon emissions. The article demonstrates the voluntary measures adopted by industry to mitigate losses on internal rates of return due to carbon-based expenses.

Specifically, DuPont stated its intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2010 compared to 1990 levels in addition to using renewables for one-tenth of its energy consumption. Similarly, British Petroleum adopted an internal cap and trade system to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) went a step further by considering the “likely future cost of carbon emissions.” RDS calculates the cost of carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 – 2009 at $5 per tonne and is expecting a rise to $20 per tonne around 2010. Then Vice President of Climate Change Policy & Programs, Aidan Murphy, stated that even these numbers “are surely the wrong price, but everyone else who assumes a carbon price of zero in future will be more wrong.”

The article’s author distinguishes these three companies from that of ExxonMobil’s firm status as “the world’s most powerful climate-change skeptic.” Despite their skepticism, the author notes Exxon’s investment in cleaner fuels, energy efficient practices, and other technologies that will address climate change in addition to Lee Raymond’s “hints” to having an “open mind about global warming.”

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