Rex Tillerson, of all people, just did the climate movement a big favor.
He didn’t hand the Sierra Club tens of millions of dollars to fight the coal industry like former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Nor did the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil follow former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer‘s lead by giving political candidates with climate cred campaign cash.
What did Tillerson, whom Forbes ranks among the world’s most powerful people, do? He disclosed his take on the proper role for big oil and gas companies regarding global warming, declaring: “We’re not going to fake it.”
The head of the biggest U.S. oil company made this blunt statement after reporters and investors prodded him about the company’s climate change plans. Exxon’s European competitors, including BP, Shell, and Total, admit that fossil fuels harm the climate and want to be “part of the solution,” as Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne puts it.
These corporations are even urging world leaders to make them pay for their carbon pollution — a move bound to crimp oil consumption.
Most Americans worry about global warming. By refusing to voluntarily revamp their business models, Exxon and No. 2 U.S. oil company Chevron are leaving it up to you to use less dirty energy. You know, drive less. Turn off more lights.
That won’t suffice. All levels of government must shrink humanity’s collective carbon footprint through regulation, taxation, better urban planning, and green-energy incentives.