Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil. Photo: Reuters, Brendan McDermid
Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil. Photo: Reuters, Brendan McDermid

While oil, coal and natural gas companies would seem to be clear winners from Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord, that is not the whole story.

Spencer Jakab at the Wall Street Journal argues that ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips may actually lose out due to the move. Exxon, for one, stood to benefit from several elements of the accord, specifically, the deal hurt oil more than natural gas – Exxon is only the sixth largest producer of oil, but the largest of natural gas. The rules also hurt smaller competitors more, potentially giving even more advantages to big players.

Jakab also plays down the media furor over the decision’s environmental impact:

“The Rhodium Group calculates that the U.S. still will come close to a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as 2020, though it predicts no more significant progress in the remaining five years. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected shortly before Mr. Obama took office that greenhouse gas emissions would rise by about 1% a year in the next several years, but they fell sharply. Very little of that had to do with Mr. Obama’s decisions.

Other policies will do relatively little to meet climate goals compared with the amount of media attention they receive. For example, state and federal tax breaks encourage sales of electric vehicle, but they are just 1% of all passenger vehicles sold today and on their current pace would reach 5% in 2025. Even if they were to do much better and reach 5% of all vehicles on the road by 2025, the reduction in total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be about half of 1%, holding all else equal.”