Dan Ammann is president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. Under his direction, the company has committed to storing 5 million metric tons of carbon per year, and allocated about $17 billion over five years to low-emission initiatives. That represents an average annual investment of $3.5 billion, or 0.9% of the company’s total annual revenue.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
It’s time to get principled and pragmatic. The goal is maximum carbon reduction per dollar spent, regardless of approach. We need to start building things. Governments need to lead on policy that creates an environment where companies can invest in projects and technology to get the flywheel going and to create a path for the market to eventually take over. Governments and companies also need to do a better job of educating the public about the scale, pace, and cost of the energy transition. We’re all in this together and we’re not going to get to net zero by being ideological.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
Well, a price on carbon emissions is popular with economists, but the concept is unpopular with the public. Nonetheless, carbon pricing in one form or another is really important. It enables all lower-emission technologies to compete. And it is one of the most cost-effective solutions to deliver meaningful progress towards emission reductions.
What is a climate technology that isn’t getting the attention or funding it deserves?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) [that traps industrial emissions before they are released into the air] is a realistic, actionable solution to reduce emissions. We’re advancing CCS projects in the U.S., where the government has encouraged it. More governments need to do the same to promote investment as well as innovation in emerging technologies. Take, for instance, direct air capture, a technology that can filter carbon out of the air. We believe carbon capture will make a huge difference in helping industries reduce their emissions.
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