* CEO: policy should focus on adapting to climate change
* Global poverty more pressing than climate change
* Poor would benefit from fossil fuel access
By Matt Daily
NEW YORK, June 27 Exxon Mobil CEO Rex
Tillerson said on Wednesday that efforts to address climate
change should focus on engineering methods to adapt to shifting
weather patterns and rising sea levels rather than trying to
eliminate use of fossil fuels.
Tillerson said humans have long adapted to change, and
governments should create policies to cope with the Earth's
"Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas
around -- we'll adapt to that. It's an engineering problem and
it has engineering solutions," Tillerson said in a presentation
to the Council on Foreign Relations.
"The fear factor that people want to throw out there to say
'We just have to stop this,' I do not accept."
Exxon Mobil, once one of the staunchest critics of climate
change research, has acknowledged under Tillerson's leadership
that human-made emissions have contributed to altering the
planet's climate. The company now supports taxing carbon
Still, Tillerson said issues such as global poverty were
more pressing than climate change, and billions of people
without access to energy would benefit from oil and gas
"They'd love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of
life would rise immeasurably," he said.
"You'd save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil
fuels available to parts of the world that don't have it," he
Tillerson's remarks followed by just a few days a global
meeting in Rio de Janeiro aimed at setting up goals for
sustainable development to help the very people the oil
executive mentioned. Many of the world's poorest are expected to
feel the harshest effects of climate change, including sea level
rise, more severe storms, floods and droughts.
The gathering of government officials, business people and
non-governmental groups ended with what some participants
considered lackluster results.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched on some of
the subjects Tillerson mentioned when she said at the Rio
meeting, "Governments alone cannot solve all the problems we
face, from climate change to persistent poverty to chronic
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has
emphasized the need for mitigation of global warming, including
limiting climate-warming carbon emitted by fossil fuels like
oil, along with adaptation to it.