Participants in the conference also grappled with the seismic shift in U.S. climate policy. Last year, President Obama had made clear that fighting climate change was one of his top priorities. Now, the White House’s position is very different. Many oil company leaders, like ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods continued to want to work on climate issues, however. He talked about how refining could be improved and carbon capture could be made viable to fight climate pollution.
Oil and gas companies have suddenly found themselves scrambling to preserve market share against the rise in renewables. Companies are working to position natural gas as a climate-friendly alternative to coal. To an extent, this means some companies at the conference were arguing for climate policies like a cap-and-trade system where natural gas would fare better than the current situation where much of U.S. climate policy is just straight subsidies for renewables. Natural gas would presumably fare well with market-based climate policies.
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