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Here's How Occidental Petroleum Is Combatting Climate Change

June 11, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:32 AM UTC

Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub discusses how her company is trying to fight climate change.

Vicky, everyone has an opinion about President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Where do you stand on this? I feel like Occidental needs to do the right thing with respect to the environment. I don't really get caught up in the politics of what people think we ought to do as a socially responsible company. We've got to do the right thing. And what we're trying to do is continue to reduce our emissions, and we've been successful in doing that for the past few years. We'll continue to do that. As you probably heard, President Trump made a case that this agreement was very unfair to the United States and it undermines our economy. What are your thoughts on that? I do believe there are areas in the world that have greater emissions than we do, and we've already made significant progress to reduce emissions. In fact, I think emissions in the US are probably lower now than they've been since the early 90s. So I believe that the things that we were doing were working, and that the things that we can do in the future will continue to reduce emissions. As you know, hundreds and hundreds of business leaders, including some of the big oil giants, like Exxon and Conoco Phillips, supported the Paris Agreement. And now they say, without it that this is going to be harmful to American businesses. So it makes you wonder, is the agreement good for the US economy or is it bad for the economy? What do you think? I haven't seen any evidence that not being a part of the agreement would be damaging to business in the US. I haven't seen any evidence of that. I really am not sure what they're referring to. But from my perspective, I'm going to continue to work toward our goals to continue to reduce emissions. Well, another concern is exactly that. Will we see that there won't be as much efforts in innovation for renewable energy, that this is going to slow down our scientific efforts in that area. What do you think? I don't think that's going to be the case. I think that we will continue to make progress with, not only supporting renewables, but supporting the current industry in ways to find reduction opportunities and technologies at Occidental. What does all of these developments need for Occidental? Well, I believe that we can continue to work as we've been working down the path of capturing emissions and CO2 emissions from industrial sources, including power plants, that would enable us to then take that and sequester it. So I think the opportunities are still there for success in that regard. The more you use the technology, the better it gets. The better it gets, the less expensive it gets. And over time, as you can continue to build and improve that technology, it makes it possible to not only expand it in the US, but expand it to other parts of the world. That, to me, could be our contribution to world emission reduction. Given that the United States has opted out of this agreement, do you feel at Occidental that it almost inspires you to do more when it comes to reducing emissions, reducing the carbon footprint, and coming up with new innovations? We've been inspired to do more already. And we have a determination to make an impact in this area. We think it will make Occidental unique, and that we're being very proactive and progressive to make this happen. So I think that it's already been a goal of ours. We're going to continue to push hard to make that a reality. Given that this Paris Agreement is sort of off the table now as far as the US is concerned, are there things that you can do today at Occidental that you might not have been able to do if we had signed the Paris Accord. I don't see that it'll change the way the opportunities we have or the way we're working it. We have traditionally had a good relationship with EPA. We've had good relationship with the DOE. And those are two of the agencies that we're working with to try to advance what we want to do with respect to CO2 emission reduction in the US. In fact, we're the first company that got an approved permit from EPA to sequester CO2, the first and only company to have that permit, and the EPA has been very diligent in ensuring that they're looking for companies to do it the right way.