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An Exxon Mobil Corp. gas station in Falls Church, Virginia. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Exxon on Wednesday unveiled 2030 greenhouse gas targets as it faces investor and activist pressure to do more on climate.

Driving the news: They include a 20%-30% cut in corporate emissions intensity — that is, emissions per unit of output — and a 40%-50% intensity cut in oil-and-gas exploration and production.

  • It is targeting a 70%-80% intensity cut for the highly potent greenhouse gas methane and efforts to curtail flaring.
  • Exxon says it's on pace to meet its 2025 targets by the end of this year.

The intrigue: Intensity doesn't measure total greenhouse gas emissions, but Exxon expects the combined targets to reduce absolute emissions by roughly 20%.

Catch up fast: Exxon recently pledged to spend $15 billion over six years on low-carbon initiatives.

  • That includes its emissions-cutting efforts and plans to commercialize carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels technologies.

The big picture: Shareholders overrode management last spring to elect three board members nominated by the activist hedge fund Engine No. 1.

  • The fund said Exxon needs a stronger climate approach and more disciplined oil-and-gas spending after years of rocky financial returns.

By the numbers: The oil giant is planning $20-$25 billion annually in overall capital spending through 2027, which is significantly lower than what Exxon envisioned a couple of years ago.

  • Exxon projects that over 90% of its oil-and-gas production investments can generate returns greater than 10% even at prices of $35-per-barrel equivalent.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 13, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's climate runway is shortening

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The Biden administration is expanding efforts to speed clean electricity expansion with its existing powers, but faces big obstacles to meeting its climate goals without far more help from Congress.

Why it matters: President Biden has set a goal of reaching 100% carbon-free power by 2035 and cutting economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions — that is, power, transport, industry, etc. — in half by 2030.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

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