Exxon CEO Darren Woods recently expressed his doubts about the transportation sector’s transition to electric vehicles. In comments during the 2019 Oil and Gas Climate Initiative meet, the CEO extended a rather blunt dismissal of EVs, suggesting that the zero-emissions vehicles will serve little purpose if they remained charged by a coal-powered grid.
Woods’ comments were brought to light by Reuters energy markets correspondent Devika Krishna Kumar, who quoted the CEO’s statement in a Twitter post. Advisory board member at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Christine Arena also shared the tidbit from the Exxon CEO. “What’s the point of having electric vehicles that will end up being charged by power generated from coal,” Woods said.
Woods’ statements are misinformed at best, particularly as data from a study conducted by Bloomberg NEF revealed that electric cars are cleaner than petrol vehicles even if they are charged by a grid that’s fully powered by coal. Electric vehicles are bound to get even cleaner as well, especially with the adoption of cleaner energy solutions for the grid, such as solar power, wind, and battery storage.
In the United States alone, data from the US Energy Information Administration reveal that less than a third of the electricity generated in the country was powered by coal in 2018. This number will likely decrease in the near future as well, with clean energy initiatives such as residential solar and battery systems becoming more popular.
Innovations in clean energy are also quickly proving that coal might not be needed anymore in the near future. This could be seen in Exxon’s own decline over the years. Earlier this month, Texas-based oil giant, which has long been a part of the S&P 500’s top companies, was kicked off the Top 10 list. That was the first time such a thing happened since the index was conceived 90 years ago, and it was a complete about-face from the company’s standing in 2009, when it was No.1 in the S&P 500.
Taking Exxon’s place was Visa Inc., with several spots in the S&P 500’s Top 10 list being taken over by tech companies such as Microsoft, Alphabet, and Apple, companies that are taking climate change seriously. Together with companies such as Tesla, whose mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, the stance of Exxon’s CEO might very well prove to archaic sooner than he expects.