What’s the super-tipping point for Exxon?

Two stories, from opposite ends of the climate crisis, caught my attention yesterday.

The first by Damian Carrington, details three “super-tipping points” for climate action, that could cascade through our economies, potentially reducing “70% of global greenhouse gas emissions”. The report, from consultancy Systemiq, partnering with the University of Exeter, advocates policy interventions on electric vehicles, plant-based meat alternatives, and green fertilisers, as “the fastest way to drive global action”. Basically, push growth in these three sectors, to get us away from high-carbon options as quickly as possible.

While I think the idea sounds plausible, I wonder if it’s enough? It doesn’t deal with the structural problems that got us here in the first place. The Systemiq strategy was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It’s speaking business to business, which has me mulling, will another iteration of business really solve our problems?

The other story, by Oliver Milman, follows up on his piece earlier this month, “Exxon made ‘breathtakingly’ accurate climate predictions in 1970s and 80s“, detailing a report by Geoffrey Supran proving Exxon’s scientist predicted the rise in global temperatures. As I noted then, Exxon has know for at least fifty years their products were, are, and will continue causing planet wide warming.

More than a dozen America states have lawsuits against Exxon. Many believe Supran’s report strengthens their case against the Texas giant. It certainly establishes two key facts. Exxon “knew about the causes and consequences of climate change” and they “actively concealed and denied it”.

Exxon has consistently denied “they knew”. I call that a press-release denial, but they have deep pockets to defend against accusations of wrongdoing. Theoretically they could continue their denials well beyond the point of no return. I’d argue we’re already there. If, as Systemiq predicts, there’s a tipping point when detoxing our economies of carbon achieves critical mass, what’s the super-tipping point for Exxon?

When do they accept their part in all of our destruction, and do something to stop it?

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