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Photo: Ken Jack/Getty Images

Exxon CEO Darren Woods put quite an exclamation point on the idea that U.S.-based oil majors aren't getting into an arms race with European rivals over long-term climate ambition.

What he's saying: Woods defended the company's approach at yesterday's investor day in New York, telling analysts that Exxon looks at the topic on a "global scale" rather than engaging in a "beauty match."

  • "Individual companies hitting targets and then selling assets to another company so that their portfolio has a different carbon intensity has not solved the problem for the world," he said, noting, “This is not a company challenge, this is a global challenge."
  • "We are very focused on trying to make sure we are talking about this holistically and actually taking steps to solve the problem for society as a whole and not to try and get into a beauty match, beauty competition around who’s sheet looks like what."

Why it matters: The comments come as multinational giants headquartered in Europe have recently expanded their longer-term pledges, including BP's recent pledge to become a "net-zero" company by 2050.

  • Big European players like Equinor, BP, Shell and Eni are also setting targets around Scope 3 emissions (that is, emissions from the use of their products in the economy), which is something Exxon and U.S.-based rival Chevron have not done.

The big picture: Woods and other officials defended Exxon's approach, citing projections of rising oil-and-gas demand for decades while highlighting their investments in low-carbon energy R&D in areas like algae-based biofuels and carbon capture.

  • Woods also said the company is on track to meet its target of a 15% cut in its methane emissions and a 25% cut in gas flaring this year compared to 2016 levels.

The other side: Edward Mason, head of responsible investment of the Church Commissioners for England, blasted Woods' comments about Exxon's climate posture.

  • He said via Twitter that Exxon is "pursuing an ugly strategy — ugly ethically & ugly financially — so it has no place at a beauty parade." The tweet on his personal feed also notes that Exxon's stock is at a 15-year low.
  • And Noah Brenner, the Houston bureau chief with Energy Intelligence, notes that Exxon "isn't being judged by activists — its being judged by investors."

Go deeper: The limits of Exxon's big legal victory on climate change

Go deeper

50 mins ago - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. State of play: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead.
  2. Politics: Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response with 10 executive actions — Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
  4. Vaccine: Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.