Exxon announced on Monday it will reduce the intensity of its emissions from its production of oil and gas by 15%-20% by 2025, along with reducing the intensity of its methane emissions by 45%-50% in five years.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a short-lived greenhouse gas but is far more potent than carbon.
Intensity is a measure of greenhouse gas emissions relative to economic activity.
Exxon also plans to eliminate routine flaring, or intentional burning, of excess natural gas by 2030 and, in the meantime, reduce its flaring intensity by 35%-45% by 2025.
And Exxon said that next year, it will begin reporting its Scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions coming from the use of its products. U.S. oil companies have been slower to set goals on cutting those emissions than its European counterparts, such as BP and Shell.
Exxon said these short-term actions are consistent with the goals of the Paris climate change agreement. The company also nodded to the need to reduce emissions to net-zero across the world by 2050, a target leading scientists have called for that is supported by President-elect Joe Biden.
“We respect and support society’s ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and continue to advocate for policies that promote cost-effective, market-based solutions to address the risks of climate change,” said Darren Woods, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon.
The moves represent a pivot for Exxon, long one of America’s most profitable companies, which has stayed loyal to its traditional oil and gas business as competitors invest more in renewable energy sources but is struggling through the coronavirus pandemic, which blunted demand for fossil fuels.
This month, Exxon began retreating from its plan to boost oil and gas production and increase spending by 2025.
It announced plans to slash, or write down, the value of its assets by up to $20 billion and cut billions in capital spending.
The new developments finish a tough year for Exxon, which was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in August, suffered three straight quarterly losses, and cut 15% of its global workforce.