Climate criminal number one — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson

There’s no better face of climate catastrophe than ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Exxon’s size alone makes Tillerson our “Ace of Spades” climate criminal. (And I vote David and Charles Koch, in that order, as the King and Queen — but more on these rankings in a bit.)

Mr. Tillerson first hit these pages (and our radar) in this post — Who is the enemy leading us to Climate Catastrophe? Here we quote Bill McKibben, who quotes Naomi Klein:

“Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices,” says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. “But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It’s what they do.” …

They’re clearly cognizant of global warming – they employ some of the world’s best scientists, after all, and they’re bidding on all those oil leases made possible by the staggering melt of Arctic ice.

And yet they relentlessly search for more hydrocarbons – in early March, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson told Wall Street analysts that the company plans to spend $37 billion a year through 2016 (about $100 million a day) searching for yet more oil and gas.

McKibben again (same source; my emphasis and paragraphing):

There’s not a more reckless man on the planet than Tillerson. Late last month, on the same day the Colorado fires reached their height, he told a New York audience that global warming is real, but dismissed it as an “engineering problem” that has “engineering solutions.” Such as? “Changes to weather patterns that move crop-production areas around – we’ll adapt to that.” This in a week when Kentucky farmers were reporting that corn kernels were “aborting” in record heat, threatening a spike in global food prices.

“The fear factor that people want to throw out there to say, ‘We just have to stop this,’ I do not accept,” Tillerson said. Of course not – if he did accept it, he’d have to keep his reserves in the ground. Which would cost him money. It’s not an engineering problem, in other words – it’s a greed problem.

So here’s some data on Climate Criminal Rex Tillerson (“We’ll adapt to that”) and his company ExxonMobil.

 First a nice picture:

Climate Criminal & Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson

See how nice? It’s a decent picture; he looks like an actual grown-up person — not Mars destroyer of worlds, a man feeding his ego and wealth at the expense of your children’s climate future. (Notice I said “your children'” and not your grandkids. The too-late deadline, by my reckoning, is 2022 or thereabouts.)

I present this picture so you can recognize him on the street, assuming his chauffeur lets his feet touch the ground near you. The face of climate catastrophe should have a face. This is Tillerson’s.

 Tillerson controls ExxonMobil, the wealthiest corporation on the planet. ExxonMobil is Tillerson’s force-extender; it’s the agent of his will. Exxon’s wealth and reach allows Tillerson to harvest money and ego via the hollowing out of your family’s future. Wikipedia:

ExxonMobil — Revenue: $486.429 billion (2011) [2]
ExxonMobil —Total equity: $154.396 billion (2011) [2]

Read that again. $486 billion is a half-trillion dollars — per year.

ExxonMobil is the world’s largest company by revenue and one of the largest publicly traded companies by market capitalization in the world. [4] The company is ranked #1 globally in Forbes Global 2000 list in 2012. [5] Exxon Mobil’s reserves were 72 billion oil-equivalent barrels at the end of 2007 and, at then (2007) rates of production, are expected to last over 14 years[6] With 37 oil refineries in 21 countries constituting a combined daily refining capacity of 6.3 million barrels (1,000,000 m3), Exxon Mobil is the largest refiner in the world, [7][8] a title that was also associated with Standard Oil since its incorporation in 1870. [9]

ExxonMobil is the largest of the six oil supermajors [10] with daily production of 3.921 million BOE (barrels of oil equivalent). In 2008, this was approximately 3% of world production, which is less than several of the largest state-owned petroleum companies. [11] When ranked by oil and gas reserves it is 14th in the world with less than 1% of the total. [12][13]

A 2012 article in The Daily Telegraph says that ExxonMobil has “grown into one of the planet’s most hated corporations, able to determine American foreign policy and the fate of entire nations”. [14]

Exxon doesn’t really drill for oil; it drills for money. Oil is just the middleman. Then it shovels the middleman into the air, banks the cash, and rubs its greed palms together while your fields bake. Exxon does all this at the bidding of one man — Rex Tillerson.

 Tillerson’s personal wealth. All of that Exxon money exists to make the Exxon executive class, which Tillerson rules as CEO, wealthy beyond their dreams — or needs. The destruction of the planet’s climate system is a byproduct of their personal wealth-production. Here’s a taste:

Salary(2007) — $5,110,000 / month; $16,726,742 / year [1]
Total compensation (2011) — $25.2 million (2011) [2
Estimated net worth — More than $40 million (based solely on his 5-year Exxon compensation)

Tillerson is a piker, according to this, relative to the other predators in the zoo. (The Kochs are each worth $31 billion at latest count.) But I suspect there’s plenty of information I haven’t found about King Rex. I invite all of our readers to send more if you find it — Twitter is a perfect medium for that, as I get fewer directed tweets than email. You can also add info in the comments. Thanks.

 Selected Tillerson news. First this, from 2008:

Tillerson recently re-established his authority during a shareholder meeting on May 28, 2008. The Rockefeller family sponsored a non-binding resolution to separate the CEO and chairman positions that Tillerson holds in order to maintain a system of checks and balances. The Rockefeller family also wanted Exxon Mobil to invest more in alternative energy. The resolution did not obtain the necessary majority and Tillerson held on to both job titles.

And this, from more recently (my emphasis and paragraphing; h/t Joan4020 via Twitter):

DALLAS — Exxon Mobil Corp.’s CEO had a good year in 2011 – he got compensation valued at $25.2 million. Shareholders had a good year too, so on Wednesday they gave their approval to the oil giant’s executive pay program. Investors at Exxon’s annual meeting cast about 78 percent of their shares in favor of the compensation-setting system, ignoring critics who said executive pay was too high.

Shareholders also voted against resolutions that took aim at a controversial method of drilling for natural gas and called on Exxon to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Similar resolutions have been defeated at previous Exxon meetings. …

Rising oil prices helped boost Exxon’s net income by 35 percent to $41 billion in 2011, the company’s best year since 2008. The stock rose 16 percent. The company’s board boosted Chairman and CEO Rex W. Tillerson’s compensation by 17 percent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The combination of salary, stock awards and other compensation made Tillerson the 16th-highest paid executive among publicly traded U.S. companies last year.

Tillerson isn’t the richest carbon criminal on the planet, but his control of Exxon makes him the most dangerous.

Rex Tillerson — Climate Criminal Number One. Mr. “We’ll adapt to that”. He’s (Aces) in my book.

Tillerson is married and has four children. He lives in Irving, Texas[11]

I wonder if he thinks his wealth will save those four children when species start going extinct (pdf; see page 12). And I wonder how long he’ll make his home in Texas.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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29 Responses to “Climate criminal number one — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson”

  1. mjonesx says:

    I heard Tillerson speak and he pretends not to know how bad global warming is due to lack of certain climate models. He rationalizes his actions by saying it is more important to make the worlds’s poor, “rich” and to do that is to supply them with fossil fuels. It is a trick used by most all people in a similiar situation. He takes comfort he is doing “good”, because he is not certain of the “bad”. It also doesn’t hurt that he himself is getting wealthy and so are the shareholders.

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