The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Opinion: ExxonMobil prioritizes profit at the expense of the environment

Lucy Sanders
ExxonMobil’s patterns of prioritizing profit over ethics and the environment is negatively impacting the climate.

Don’t eat red meat. Ride your bike. Shop local. Do your part.

The climate crisis is here, and the general population is taking on the burdens of the damage our large industries are creating for profit.

We aren’t the problem. 

It is undeniable that our oil industries fuel our access to the transportation, electricity, and heat that we all need to survive in the modern world. However, through propaganda, media, and the industries themselves, we are led to believe that we are at the heart of the irreversible environmental harm that nonrenewable energy inflicts.

It is time we consider those who pioneer these industries and all of the work that they do to keep their profit margins up and environmental accountability down.

Scope Emissions Overview by Lucille Sanders

Take the U.S.’s largest gas company, ExxonMobil — or just Exxon as others may know it — as one of many examples. Exxon announced a net-zero emission plan to take action on climate change in January 2022. By 2050, they hope to take back more carbon than they produce, which as of 2020, was 112 million tons, according to their energy and carbon summary that year. 

For perspective, the average carbon footprint per year for a person in the U.S. is 16 tons.

While on the surface, this seems like an appropriate solution to reducing their carbon footprint, Exxon chose only to include Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Their neglect of Scope 3 emissions is a monumental mistake, as these add up to 650 million tons according to their estimates in 2020, or 85% of their total emissions. This exclusion discredits their “net-zero” plan, as a reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions will not even begin to make a significant decrease in Exxon’s carbon footprint.

Exxon’s failure to take accountability for its Scope 3 emissions only perpetuates the idea that individuals are the only ones to blame for climate change. However, their lack of responsibility runs much deeper than this. 

Several years ago, InsideClimate News launched an investigation on Exxon’s climate history, and they discovered that Exxon knew about global warming long before most.

In 1977, Exxon learned from a researcher named James Black that a rise in global temperatures was upon us. Over the next few years, they spent over $1 million conducting their own research, developing a greater understanding of the threat climate change could pose to the company. 

Instead of disclosing their discoveries to the public, Exxon kept the general population in the dark. They reduced their research budget and instead spent money lobbying to foster doubt surrounding climate change.

It was not until the late 1980s that officials made a public acknowledgment of global warming. 

To combat climate awareness, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, and other large oil industries created the Global Climate Coalition in 1989 which worked to deny climate change and lobbied to block legislation for clean energy until it was disbanded in 2002.

Even in light of their recent developments towards a cleaner approach to providing fuel, senior lobbyist Keith McCoy disclosed in a 2021 interview with undercover journalists at Greenpeace UK that Exxon continues to lobby against climate change. 

“Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we join some of the ‘shadow groups’ to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true,” McCoy said. “But there’s nothing illegal about that. We were looking out for our investments, we were looking out for our shareholders.”

Magically, McCoy was no longer working for Exxon.

“This is a private personnel matter, and we will decline to comment further,”  said Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton.

Considering Exxon’s history, McCoy’s sudden departure from the company after divulging controversial information was no coincidence.  

Ultimately, Exxon is only looking out for the economic future of their company and their control over the U.S. oil industry, and their strategies are used by several other gas and oil companies that manipulate the public into supporting them with false claims of climate action.

The people who have the power to make real change sit back and relax while we make sacrifices for the environment, that in the grand scheme of things, do virtually nothing. To make a significant difference, we must shift our thinking and efforts towards lobbying for the structural change that will validate the climate crisis as a major issue and implement a much larger budget for climate action, or do away with oil and carbon giants altogether. 

Only when individuals, industries, and world leaders make changes that support each other in attacking global warming, are we genuinely fighting for a world that is already hardly surviving.

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About the Contributor
Lucille Sanders
Lucille Sanders, Highlander Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Sanders, class of 2024 at Carlmont High School, joined the journalism team in 2021. She is looking forward to telling more stories this year and pursuing her role as editor-in-chief of the Highlander. When she isn't at school, she enjoys working at a local yoga studio and Barrett Community Center, and interning for the San Mateo Daily Journal. X: @lucyyas_

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Opinion: ExxonMobil prioritizes profit at the expense of the environment