Political/Legal Factors Exxon Mobile

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Political and legal factors
Christian Birke

Factors in the political and legal environments appear to represent an important influence on decisions made within companies. It seems as though changes in this environment can directly affect company performance. With ExxonMobil operating in nearly 200 countries worldwide (ExxonMobil, 2001) the list of possible political and legal aspects appears to be endless. Importance should be given only to implications that can gravely affect operations. Making this choice of differentiation between significant and insignificant influencing factors may well be the most important decision to be made by ExxonMobil. Therefore the main question that arises is: What political and legal factors from the external environment affect decision making within ExxonMobil.

The first paragraph will begin by analysing and explaining the implications possibly brought about by the Kyoto Protocol. This is followed by a summary of environmental legislative aspects probable of being influential to ExxonMobil's decision making process. The analysis continues by stating various geopolitical factors and how they can exert influence on operating decisions ending with a conclusion that summarises the main aspects of the chapter and answers the thesis statement.

The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement, meant to counteract the effects of global warming and climate change, which could have serious implications for the energy industry. The treaty aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the countries that signed it (Cliff Pearson, 1999). The increase in greenhouse gas emissions is said to be responsible for global warming which has serious consequences for the environment (Environmental Protection Agency (website), 2000). The first international initiative to deal with the climate change problem was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed in 1992. The goal of this non-legally binding treaty was to maintain 1990 emissions levels by the year 2000. The Kyoto protocol that replaced the UNFCC in 1997 was signed by many countries including the USA and once ratified it would be legally binding (Cliff Pearson, 1999 / Platts, 2003). Emissions were to be reduced by 5% compared to 1990 levels in the years from 2008 until 2012 (Platts, 2003). The measures aim at reducing the emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane all of which constitute by-products especially generated by the oil industry (EPA and Platts). For the Kyoto Protocol to be enforced it must be ratified by at least 55 countries constituting 55% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Currently 70 countries have ratified the Protocol comprising 35.2% of emissions. Contrary to the USA that shows no intention of ratifying under the current administration, both Russia and Poland have assured their future ratification. In this case, the necessary criteria would be fulfilled for the agreement to be enforced (Platts, 2003). But doubts have recently been cast on Russia's position due to statements given by high Russian government officials (Reuters (CNN), 2003). The effects the Kyoto Protocol could have on business especially in the energy industry might turn out to be substantial. Changing requirements for the components of gasoline reducing the amount of sulphur may impose additional production costs (Platts, 2003). Rising energy costs might also reduce the demand for fuel, electricity and other oil related products which in turn could affect profits in the energy sector. These implications for the energy industry might help explain the continuous denial of the existence of global warming and human influenced climate change by ExxonMobil (Cliff Pearson, 2003). If the Kyoto Protocol is enforced it seems as though ExxonMobil would face changing patterns of diminished energy consumption which could force some rethinking in its operations, but it is not only...
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