Climate change a complex issue, solutions not easy

Ms Jessica Cheam's commentary on Oct 14 ("No place for Big Oil in climate change policy debate") cited certain critics of ExxonMobil claiming that evidence of our climate research was unearthed recently after being suppressed as part of a conspiracy to deny the existence of climate change.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

ExxonMobil is a science- and engineering-based company, and we employ roughly 16,000 scientists and engineers who, every day, explore the boundaries of scientific knowledge in order to develop the energy supplies that power the modern economy.

As our company has noted publicly, our scientists and researchers were among the first to grapple with the fact that there might be a connection between the carbon dioxide emissions from humanity's use of fossil fuels and climate fluctuations.

We have remained committed to pursuing climate change research since that initial discovery. And we have worked closely alongside other top scientists on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception in 1988 - a collaboration that continues to this day.

ExxonMobil scientists have also contributed climate research and related policy analysis to more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed publications from 1983 to the present. These are all publicly available and always have been.

This research dovetails with actions we have taken over the years to investigate the possibilities of next-generation energy technologies.

Globally, we are also addressing the risks of climate change with solutions, by helping to supply cleaner-burning natural gas, developing emissions-reducing technologies and encouraging energy efficiency.

One example of that is the significant investment in more than 100 co-generation plants all around the world, including Singapore where we have two co-generation plants and are building a third.

What we have understood from the outset - and something which over-the-top activists fail to acknowledge - is that climate change is a complicated subject.

The climate and mankind's connection to it are among the most complex topics scientists have ever studied, with a large number of variables to consider over a long time span.

Any responsible dive into the topic must take into account the monumental scale of the world's energy challenges.

Climate change is not given to a single, simple conclusion, nor to a single, simple policy solution.

Because of the large scale of the world's need for energy, solutions are not easy - they will take time, investment in research and development, and thoughtful public policies.

Michele Ng (Ms)
Singapore Public and Government Affairs Manager
ExxonMobil Asia-Pacific

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'Climate change a complex issue, solutions not easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe