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Shell Oil president pressed on whether warming is ‘existential threat’

The Washington Post

Shell Oil president pressed on whether warming is ‘existential threat’

By Maxine Joselow 12:04 p.m.

Gretchen Watkins, president of Shell Oil, would not concede under questioning that climate change poses an “existential threat” to the nation and the world, even as the oil company rolled out a new pledge to cut planet-warming emissions early Thursday.

“I agree climate change is one of the biggest challenges in the world today, which is why at Shell, we’re in action,” Watkins said.

“We need to work in collaboration with society, with governments,” she said, adding, “I agree that this is a defining challenge for our generation. Absolutely.”

Watkins was responding to a question from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Maloney had asked her to answer “yes” or “no” as to whether global warming poses an existential threat to humanity. Watkins would not say “yes.”

The tense exchange came as Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch parent company of U.S. subsidiary Shell Oil, unveiled a new target Thursday to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 after posting worse-than-expected profits for the third quarter.

However, the pledge did not cover the majority of the emissions from the oil and gas that Shell produces, and it was unlikely to satisfy climate activists and some investors who have been pushing the company to curtail its investments in fossil fuels.

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