Ha. Now you know I really have gone over to the Dark Side. Prompted by British funds back Rockefellers’ green rebellion to bring in new ExxonMobil chairman. The complaint appears to be that The firm has refused to follow rival oil companies in committing large-scale capital investment to environmentally friendly technology… Exxon maintains that present green technologies are not financially viable. But critics fear that the company’s reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgment in the long run as rivals such as BP seek to capture public affection by re-branding themselves as environmentally sensitive enterprises… The Rockefellers point out that Exxon has $25bn (Â£13bn) of capital investment planned in carbon-based fuel but its environmental commitment is centred on $100m to fund a Stanford University project on climate change.
So: take for a moment the position that Exxon is the Dark Side and has been obstructive over climate change. I still don’t see why it should be expected to invest in renewables (the quote above suggests that it should do so for PR purposes; well, I imagine they have considered that. Its hardly the moral high grounds, though). Exxon an oil company. It knows f*ck all about wind turbines. A company that specialised in renewable energy could spend research money more effectively than Exxon could. If the market decides that renewables will offer a better return than Exxon shares, people will sell said shares and invest them in renewables. At the moment thats not happening, for obvious reasons.
[Update: I’ve had various interesting replies, see the comments. To pick out a few:
Given that oil isn’t going to last a whole heck of a lot longer, would not a good business strategy be to start investing in some form of renewable energy? Possibly. But now you’re framing this as a pure business question. They understand their business better than you or I do.
For the same reason that Ford and GM should have looked in at ?environmental? cars earlier to cling on to the top of the market I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Green cars are just different types of cars; car makers already have the expertise. Switching from oil to windmills or solar is utterly different. Even biofuels is a stretch (and is anyway a disaster area; I bet if Exxon were doing biofuels they’d be being slammed for it).
Nobody right now is the Exxon/General Motors of solar and wind. Exxon isn’t at a disadvantage in investing in those fields True, but nor is it at an *advantage*.