Mostly, we're left with TP rather belatedly picking their brains up off the floor where they've flopped out after exploding at the fallout from the Alsup case, since TP have finally realised that the oil companies aren't going to fight on the science.
As TP say:
Boutrous is arguing that the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of people burning fossil fuels; the companies should not be held responsible for this portion because all they have done is extract the oil, coal, and gas. But archival video footage of a Mobil Oil meeting seen by ThinkProgress indicates that 20 years ago, employees were raising concerns about the company’s responsibility for climate change...(my bold). But notice that TP's "but" doesn't make sense. "And" would make sense. "But" would mean that the two sentences in some way contradict or contrast with each other. But they don't. They are entirely compatible; clearly, TP haven't quite scooped all their brains back in yet.
There are various other misrepresentations and misunderstandings in the TP piece, but they're all variations on the same theme. For example:
...Even if you say greenhouse gases are human-caused, we’re only responsible for 5 percent of it. We’re not responsible for everything we put out there; you’re the ones using it. That’s what I understood him to be saying.” This question of responsibility has been a focus of scientists and researchers for several years. In order to link emissions to specific companies, the Carbon Majors Database was set up in 2013 by researcher Richard "Dick" Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute. Heede’s peer-reviewed study featured in the database showed that nearly two thirds of all global emissions can be linked back to just 90 entities — oil and gas companies, coal producers, and cement manufacturers — responsible for extracting most of the fossil fuels burned since the industrial revolution...(again, my bold). Heede also rather gives his game away. I covered the Heede stuff at the time2. But then, TP didn't say "can be linked back to", they said Ninety Companies Responsible For Two-Thirds Of Global Warming Emissions. What I think TP are rather painfully discovering is that their automatic unthinking "the FF companies dunnit" is open to question (note that I'm not trying to suggest the FF companies were white as snow; they clearly weren't; see-also what-I-said).
Never mind, we've done all this before, you either agree or you don't. Moving on.
What did that nice Mr Noto actually say?
I'm glad you asked. If you listen to the video, do make sure you listen to the full clip, not the artfully cut one. My service to the world will be to transcribe his words (done by listening to Youtube at 0.25 speed, which just about reduces him to my typing speed. I went back a few times, and there are small uncertainties, but I think this is essentially correct).
Take it away, Lucio:
There's been a lot of publicity on climate. Some of our employees are very upset about what they think Mobil's negative attitude is on the Kyoto so-called climate agreement. Let's try to put things into perspective. We are not in any way saying that greenhouse gases can be dismissed as a risk or the climate change associated with the build up of greenhouse gases can be dismissed on a scientific basis as a non-event. We think it could potentially be a big issue. We're also not prepared to admit that the science is a closed fact and that we should take draconian steps tomorrow to reduce CO2 gases. We do think that a prudent company should take steps to do what it can on a win-win basis to try to reduce its own and its customers emissions of greenhouse gases as best it can. What is Mobil doing?
[WMC: gloss: not-dismiss-not-draconian is a nice way of putting yourself somewhere in the middle between 0 and 1, but not saying at all where you might be in that space. Prudent-company-win-win is better and shows willing, but of course you should do win-win thing anyway.]
Number one, we started an inventory of gases that we are responsible for in our facilities. And that's probably only 5% of the issue in Mobil's case. Our customers using our products probably account for 95% of those emissions. But with the 5% that we're responsible for we're doing an inventory - the Excom has gotten the board's approval - that if there are projects we can undertake which perhaps don't meet out own internal rate of return standards but do have a major impact on our own emissions of greenhouse gases, we're gonna do them. We think its prudent, we think its responsible to do that.
[This is the bit most interesting for the current case. If you're Mobil then - contra TP - you'll be delighted with the bit, because it shows the not-us-but-you wasn't invented just for the trial, it was what the company thought all along. Also note the bit I've bolded.]
Number two, we are spending money with oil companies and with university institutions to do research on how our customers can use our products more effectively and more economically and more efficiently. It may mean a loss of potential sales in the short term. Very frankly, it doesn't bother me. We think we should do everything possible to make our product environmentally welcome for the 21st century. We wanna make it cleaner. Mobil has taken a lead on trying to take sulphur out of US gasoline. We haven't had support of as many of the API companies as I'd like to see, but we agreed with Brian that if the API doesn't do something significant, we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it on our own. We may not get any benefit for it, we're certainly not gonna get any money for it, but we think its the responsible thing to do, our research says sulphur's a bad actor. And we're prepared to step out on that. Customers are gonna use our products more efficiently, we won't sell as much, but we will cement a value relationship for our bread and butter package of materials and products for the 21st century, that's our obligation.
Number three, we are prepared to put money into projects like reforestation in some of the countries that we operate in that we think make sense, both from a community contribution point of view and from a greenhouse gas abatement point of view. So we're doing that. We're not doing this just to get kudos, we're not doing this just to have some feel-goodism, we think its good business. But at the same time we will continue to oppose mandates like the ones in Kyoto which make no sense which are no based on sound science and which have potential draconian consequences which absolutely no-one understands. That may make some of our people feel uncomfortable. Too bad. That's where we are. We will not take the BP position that says the science is closed. The science is not. One of the silliest things this Earth could do is to start to adopt a policy which we have available today to try to fight a problem for 2010-2012 instead of waiting for the technology that's going to roll off the boards. So we will continue to be a company that does does what we think is prudent but continues to oppose mandates imposed by politicians who have no idea of the consequences of what they're doing. If you had read president Clinton's speech about what his terms of reference were for the US delegation to the Kyoto convention and if you compared those terms of reference to what was signed in Kyoto by the American delegation you would fire everybody that he sent to Kyoto. Period. And so we're gonna speak out against this. At the White House the other day at a breakfast with secretary Rubin and Erskine Bowles and secretary Daley from commerce and Gene Sperling and we had a rather animated conversation on climate and I said you know there is no smoking gun technology in somebody's draw that you could open and use and suddenly maintain economic growth and and maintain jobs and maintain and the benefits that people have earned and still reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly the thirty to thirty-five percent that you have to reduce them by to meet the Kyoto targets for 2010-12. And they said to me "president Clinton has a word for people like you, he calls them lemon suckers". So I said "yes I'm a lemon sucker then". And one of them said "well you got a few more round this table". This is gonna be an interesting one, you have a bunch of folks who are absolutely committed to doing the right thing, and they think the only way to do it is to set a mandatory line in the sand and force industry to approach it. And if they can't make it so what we'll change the line later on. they don't understand the disruptions that we could start to have in our economy in our company if we start to take action today based on a mandate for 2008-2012 which in investment terms is tomorrow. With the wrong technology at the wrong pace. So Mobil is gonna have a two sided attitude toward climate. If you feel uncomfortable about Mobil's position let us know. We'd like to have your input. We an outside scientific advisory council now which ?Mike Grammidge? put together we met with them coupla weeks ago to talk about climate in general. These are absolute first-quality outside third-party scientists with no axe to grind. They gave us some suggestions as to how we might make our statements clearer so that people would understand them better but I think basically they gave Mobil high points with the program that it had embraced and was subsidising paying for.
[This one is perhaps the most important, and the most likely to be misunderstood. Partly, this is back to Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia? which I wrote to great acclaim a while back so won't repeat. But more, there is a genuine fear - the fear is genuine I think, you can argue whether it is justified or not - on the part of business folk that, as they see it, the fuckwits from the gummint will finally commit to and attempt something impossible and damaging to their industry. Notice what LN think will happen if the thing turns out to be impossible: he expects the gummint to simply give itself permission not to do the thing after all. But what he fears is the gummint committing and holding him to doing something impossible.]
I'm sorry for that interval but I know a lot of people around the Mobil world have been very concerned about Mobil being too negative. Mobil's negative on Kyoto its a bad deal bad negotiation stupid. Mobil's not negative on taking reasonable steps. Frankly because we don't know enough about how dangerous or undangerous greenhouse gases are so we'll do what we can do in a sensible fashion but continue to oppose mandates.
And there it ends. The insistence on the 2010-ish timeframe is odd, but perhaps it's the Kyoto timeframe.
Other opinion will not be as valuable as mine, of course. But sometimes it is revealing to look at their errors. climateliabilitynews, who I thought might be sane, say A recently discovered video shows Mobil chief executive Lucio Noto admitting in 1998 that the company’s product is responsible for both emissions released during production and emissions released when it is used by consumers which is stupid of them, because he actually says the reverse, as you can see for yourself.
1. Not Sulfur; I'm English. Also, sorry, I couldn't be bothered to draw in the other bits.
2. I also used the same unfunny joke, too, I see.
* Who were those masked men?
* ExxonMobil: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future?
* The courts are deciding who's to blame for climate change - Oil companies? The government? The public? All of the above share the blame". Dana Nuccitelli in the Graun; perhaps they're starting to get a clue.