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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 16:07 GMT
Stanford seeks greenhouse solutions
Sky, BBC
The project will look to reduce the impacts of current technology
The oil company ExxonMobil is giving $100m to Stanford University in California, US, to find technical solutions to global warming.

Substantial contributions from General Electric ($50m) and Schlumberger, a global technology services company ($25m), and other European sponsors will lift the total funding to $250m over 10 years.

The money will pay for what the university is calling its Global Climate and Energy Project (G-Cep). It will be led by Dr Lynn Orr, who is the dean of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences.

In a statement, the institution said G-Cep would "engage in research to develop technologies that foster the development of a global energy system where greenhouse emissions are much lower than today".

Patent control

The sponsorship deal is said to be one of the biggest of its type ever agreed for a university anywhere in the world.

Orr, Stanford
Dr Lynn Orr will lead the project
The project promises to develop alternative power technologies, including wind and solar, and to examine ways of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from existing power generation plants.

Any patents that might result from the research would be held by the university and not by its sponsors, a spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

Dr Orr added: "Supplying energy to a growing world population is a critical challenge for this century, and doing so with low greenhouse emissions will be an even greater challenge.

"The Global Climate and Energy Project is a long-term commitment to build and carry out a research portfolio that ultimately will stimulate the development of needed energy technologies of the future."

'Scientific reality'

Stanford has developed strong links with ExxonMobil in recent years. Two university individuals, Henry McKinnel, chairman of the Advisory Council at Stanford's graduate school of business, and Michael Boskin, an economics professor at Stanford, sit on the oil company's board.

Environmentalists dismissed ExxonMobil's commitment to the project as a public relations gimmick.

"It looks like an extremely cheap attempt by ExxonMobil to buy a shield from criticism," said Peter Altman, national coordinator of Campaign ExxonMobil, a US shareholder group trying to influence the company's positions on the environment.

At a recent industry conference, ExxonMobil said total spending on oil and gas exploration and other projects would be roughly $100bn over the next decade.

But William O'Keefe, president of the George C Marshall Institute, a think-tank receiving oil-industry funding and which has been highly critical of the stance taken on global warming by some green lobbyists, welcomed the project.

"For too long, the debate over appropriate responses to climate change risk has been monopolised by advocates of actions that have little basis in science or economic reality," he said.

"This project moves beyond politicisation and political expediency by focusing on research that will explore the frontiers of energy technology."

See also:

01 Nov 02 | South Asia
08 Sep 00 | Business
10 Sep 02 | Leicester 2002
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