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CEO under fire for defensive statements on profits amid global crisis: 'If you want to keep everyone happy, sell ice cream'

"We are not in the business of ice cream — and I'm reminded, there are people who are lactose-intolerant."

"We are not in the business of ice cream — and I’m reminded, there are people who are lactose intolerant."

Photo Credit: iStock

A number of large energy companies have made commitments to work toward decreasing the amount of pollution created by their businesses, but several chief executives have recently come under fire after defending record annual profits of almost $200 billion

What happened?

In early October, the ADIPEC oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi hosted chief executives from some of the world's major energy companies, including representatives from Asia, Europe, and the United States. 

As CNBC detailed, the executives attempted to put a positive spin on the record profits — with Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub calling it "really exciting times" for the oil and gas industry — and seemingly downplayed concerns about the use of dirty energy

"We will never make enough to please the ones which are against oil and gas, but my mission is not to please [activists]," TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.

Tengku Muhammad Taufik, the president and group CEO of Petronas, shared a similar sentiment.

"I'm reminded of an old saying: 'If you want to keep everyone happy, sell ice cream.' We are not in the business of ice cream — and I'm reminded, there are people who are lactose-intolerant," he said.  

The combined profits of BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron Corporation in 2022 alone were more than most countries generate with their economies annually. 

Why is this important? 

The use of gas and oil has been linked to a myriad of issues, from childhood asthma to an increased risk of extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding due to planet overheating. 

Roughly 15% of heat-trapping gases are caused by the production, transport, and processing of the energy, while another 40% of harmful pollution is due to the burning of the product.

According to a September report from the United Nations, the world is not expected to reach the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit rising temperatures to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What can we do to help?

The good news is there are a lot of companies making adjustments to positively impact our environment, including tech giant Microsoft, which is committed to increasing its use of solar energy.

Helping our Earth isn't only within the reach of major corporations, though.

While it may feel daunting to invest in solar energy, one study revealed that adding panels to your house could actually pay off in the long run by increasing its value.  

In your day-to-day, taking public transportation or walking, riding an electric bike for short commutes, and carpooling are just a few choices that also make a difference. 

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