Oil demand will continue to grow in coming decades even as nations around the world restrict greenhouse-gas emissions to counter climate change, said Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Darren Woods.
Population growth and a desire for higher living standards will increase usage of petroleum-derived fuels, especially for transportation, because there are few widely-available alternatives, Woods said during Exxon’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday. Woods said there’s a huge untapped energy market among the 1 billion people who currently have no access to electricity and the 3 billion who don’t use modern cooking fuels.
“Energy needs are a function of population and living standards,” Woods said in his first annual meeting since becoming chief executive officer on Jan. 1. “When it comes to policy, the goal should be to reduce emissions at the lowest cost to society.”
The leader of the world’s biggest oil producer by market value made his remarks amid reports that President Donald Trump is on the verge of pulling the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Accord on climate. Woods did not address the president’s moves in his comments.
Woods said his forecast assumes governments adhere to the strictures of the Paris pact, which calls for limiting emissions to prevent global temperatures from exceeding pre-industrial levels by 2 degrees Celsius.
Woods has been a staunch advocate for keeping the U.S. In the Paris group, as was his predecessor Rex Tillerson, who is now Trump’s secretary of state. In his first blog post after becoming CEO, Woods advocated low-emission fuels, carbon capture and biofuels as tools for meeting the goals of the Paris agreement.