Dave O’Reilly, CEO of Chevron, and Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, in a discussion moderated by Alan Murray, Executive Editor of The Wall Street Journal. Commonwealth Club | Climate One. Nikko Hotel. June 10, 2009.
O’Reilly and Pope have not met face to face in a forum such as this before and one of the surprises was how many things they agreed upon. And the other was how scary it was to hear this powerful CEO not even acknowledge the specific goals to reduce carbon emissions. He just pretended doing something would be enough.
What they agreed on:
- Climate change is happening and man is contributing
- We need to protect the environment
- We need to do something – actually many things
- Congress doesn’t get it as a national issue
- Need federal regulations, policies, legislation to make this happen
- We need to look at everything from coal sequestration to renewables
- Neither a member of US CAP org for the same reasons (they would hogtie too much)
- Coal needs to go away
- Want transparency and prefer emissions tax/ fee rather than cap and trade which is unnecessarily complex
Pope came across as knowledgeable about the big picture and had numbers not just emotions to back up his positions. O’Reilly came across as knowledgeable about Chevron but not as much about national or global issues and implications.
The most serious disagreement was about the amount of carbon reduction and the timing of those reductions.
While O’Reilly agreed climate change and global warming are serious issues, that man is major contributor to global warming, and that we need to move quickly to reduce carbon emissions… he believes we will be lucky to achieve 20-25% reductions by 2050.
Pope was much more optimistic about the ability of the US, and the energy companies, to meet the goals of 80-90% reduction by 2050 citing how California reduced its electric consumption by 50% between 1973 and 2003.
These are serious disagreements about the pace at which the US needs to move on these issues, but they both agreed that getting Congress on board was critical. Both men indicated a willingness to talk privately about potential joint lobbying efforts in Washington DC. Both men recognized the government’s role in developing regulations and policies that will make business planning much easier and more predictable. They both also agreed that a carbon tax was preferable and more easily understood than a cap and trade system.
Good news and bad news -- but an important event and I am optimistic about their agreements.