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Exxon Mobil CEO cautions against an abrupt energy transition, warning underinvestment leads to high gas prices

Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods warns that an abrupt transition to renewable energy will cause society to “pay a high price.”

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is currently nearly $5, causing strife for all drivers, according to AAA.

In an interview with CNBC’s David Faber, Woods cautioned against a government policy that fails to balance the current demand for affordable energy with the need for lower emissions. He said that underinvestment in the oil and gas industry correlates to higher prices. Instead, Woods continued his calls for a price on carbon to create a market incentive for lowering emissions.

In addition to impacting families who depend on affordable energy, Woods said that rising oil and gas prices have already pushed consumers in Europe to use other fossil fuels, like coal, rather than renewable energy. 

Sherlina Nageer is an American activist in Guyana, where Exxon Mobil recently invested $10 billion in a fourth offshore oil production project. She told Faber that all oil development should stop, saying, “the negatives in the long term outweigh whatever positives may be reaped in the short term.”

Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy, stressed the importance of transitioning away from fossil fuels. She cautioned, “If we don’t fix climate change, it will fix us.”

Read more about energy from CNBC Pro

When Faber asked Woods what Exxon Mobil will look like in 10 years, he predicted that the company may continue to participate in oil and gas exploration, although it will also engage in renewable energy solutions like biofuels. 

As Exxon Mobil navigates the energy transition, Woods emphasized his commitment to balancing existing demands for affordable energy with “the needs of the future as well, which is lower emissions.”

Watch the full interview in the video and see the full documentary, “ExxonMobil at the Crossroads,” on YouTube, Peacock and CNBC.com.

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