ExxonMobil has joined the oil and gas industry’s flagship climate change project, reversing its decision not to join the alliance four years ago.
The company was a notable holdout when the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OCGI) was launched, but will now join European peers BP, Shell and Total in contributing $100m (£75m) to curb the impact of global warming.
The move is the clearest sign yet the US company is taking a more progressive stance on global warming.
Exxon, which promoted climate denial for years despite knowing about the risks since 1981, had shifted its tone on climate change under the leadership of Rex Tillerson. But while acknowledging global warming was real and linked to fossil fuel use, Tillerson said fears over climate change were overblown.
Darren Woods, who became the chief executive in 2017 when Tillerson became US secretary of state, has taken that shift further. “It will take the collective efforts of many in the energy industry and society to develop scalable, affordable solutions that will be needed to address the risks of climate change,” he said of the firm’s decision to join the OCGI.
Two other US oil companies, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, have also joined the initiative, taking its total climate fund to $1.3bn.
The project, which has been derided as “greenwash” by campaigners, previously had 10 members, which represented 20% of global oil and gas production. The new additions have taken that figure to 30%.
Exxon’s annual contribution, which works out at $10m a year over a decade, represents just 0.04% of its planned capital expenditure of $25bn in 2018.
Greg Muttitt, a campaigner at Oil Change International, said: “It is hardly surprising that ExxonMobil, when faced with lawsuits for lying for decades about what it knew about climate change, should want to join an initiative that claims oil companies care about climate.”
Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French oil and gas company Total, said the new members would give more impact to the industry’s response to climate change.