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'What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?': Exxon CEO

Billions of poor people will remain in poverty longer if humankind attempts to cool the climate by lessening its dependancy on oil, the CEO of Exxon Mobil said this week.

"What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?" asked Rex Tillerson at the oil company's annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Exxon Mobil earned $44.9 billion in profits during 2012, and was recently deemed by Forbes to be the planet's fifth largest corporation (a slip from last year, when it was ranked number one).

At the annual meeting this week CEO Tillerson opposed a resolution from environmental shareholders demanding the company set goals for shrinking its carbon footprint.

The resolution was defeated nearly 3-to-1 in a shareholder vote, reported the Associated Press.

Shareholders also voted down a resolution officially banning discrimination against homosexuals -- one Exxon's board deemed redundant because the company broadly opposes discrimination already.

Tillerson is considered slightly more moderate on environmental issues than his predecessor, Lee Raymond, who publicly disputed the science behind climate change.

Still, Tillerson last summer argued that humankind will "adapt" to global warming, and that there are "much more pressing priorities."

Such comments were the reason environmental author and activist Bill McKibben called Tillerson the most "reckless man on the planet" in a viral Rolling Stone essay.

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

Funding for this article was partially provided by the Climate Justice Project of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, with support from the Fossil Fuel Development Mitigation Fund of Tides Canada Foundation.

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