Exxon promised to cut emissions. Internal plans show it's actually planning to jack them up.

Petroleum refinery.
(Image credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

When the pandemic shattered the oil industry's profits and sent Exxon Mobil into the red, the company could've used the downturn as an opportunity to step away from oil production. But internal planning documents show a different path — one where carbon emissions rise by at least 17 percent over the next five years, Bloomberg reports.

Oil prices collapsed in April, forcing Exxon to cut its spending budget by a third, including by halting oil drilling and refining projects. That would translate into a meaningful reduction of carbon emissions and a need to find cleaner options to replace them — if only it weren't temporary. "As recently as July, however, Exxon indicated that it's merely delaying many projects to preserve cash during the downturn rather than canceling them," Bloomberg writes. The plans would lead to the production of 1 million more barrels of oil each day, the equivalent of 143 million tons of CO2 per year, documents show.

Unlike many of its competitors, Exxon hasn't made any pledges of carbon reduction or neutrality. But it did tell Bloomberg that its "growth plans will continue to include meaningful emission mitigation efforts," including, largely, carbon capture initiatives. But even with those measures in place, Exxon's growth will translate into a 17 percent rise in annual emissions by 2025, internal documents show. And that's not accounting for the emissions created when cars and buildings use the oil Exxon produces — a total that could quintuple the company's predicted emissions rise. Read more at Bloomberg.

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.