National Press Club

ConocoPhillips CEO Urges Pragmatic Approach to Green Energy

January 14, 2009 | By Hope Katz Gibbs

ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva addresses a luncheon crowd

ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva addresses a luncheon crowd

Photo/Image: Rex Allen Stuckey

James Mulva does not yet drive a plug-in or hybrid car, but at a Jan. 13 luncheon, the chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips was adamant that the Obama administration focus on the energy opportunities.

“In just seven days, our new president takes office, [and] his confidence and calmness are reassuring,” said Mulva, pointing to one of the solutions that the president-elect has suggested is the creation of a green energy economy. “We agree that we must reduce the environmental footprint of energy production and consumption. But we must be realistic about the cost of green energy. Also about its true potential, and how long it will take for commercial-scale supply contributions.”

ConocoPhillips is the nation’s third largest energy company.

Mulva said he and his colleagues, as well as the lawmakers who will be making important decisions about the future of energy, must be realistic about society’s needs.

“Our economy requires readily available energy today, and it must be reasonably and competitively prices,” Mulva said. “And we must avoid inadvertently creating unattainable public expectations. An energy transition will not occur overnight, at little cost, and with no inconvenience.”

Mulva suggested that a comprehensive policy should incorporate four principles:

  1. Broad supply diversity
  2. Greater energy efficiency
  3. Technological innovation
  4. Sound environmental stewardship, which includes addressing climate change.

“Ultimately, energy diversity and better supply of a variety of energy opportunities that allow for plenty of back-up supply,” he concluded. “This is the best way to take the volatility out of the energy issue.”

In fact, ConocoPhillips is the only national energy firm in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (, a group of businesses and leading environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Mulva said he believes foreign energy companies are highly committed to green technology is as are many U.S. firms. “I’m startled to hear you say that,” said NPC president Sylvia Smith during the Q&A segment of the luncheon.

“Yes,” Mulva responded. “They know we need cleaner energy to be competitive and relevant, so irrespective of where you go in the world there is agreement that we all must work to create green solutions.”