Exxon in recent days has vehemently denied it had any campaign to discredit climate science and, presumably, to derail movements and measures to get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Courtesy of many sources, I here present images of a large number of advertisements Exxon and Exxon-Mobil placed arguing its positions on these matters.
The advertisements are principally from the late 1990s, running up to the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, into the early 2000s.
(To inspect a larger image, click on this one. To return to blog, use your browser’s Back button.)
Scientific American reports on the efforts and funding behind the climate denial movement.
Rolling Stone looks at the complicity of the Bush-Cheney administration in aiding and abetting this denial. In my personal opinion, this exceeds the criminal horrors and deceptions of the initiation and prosecution of the War In Iraq, at least in its long term impacts.
It is interesting that these dissonances were examined in a scholarly paper as far back as 2002.
As reported by Inside Climate News, Exxon has made it’s first statements in response to Wednesday’s issuance of subpoeanas by the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York State relating to ” its research into the causes and effects of climate change, to the integration of climate change findings into business decisions, to communications with the board of directors and to marketing and advertising materials on climate change….” That response, reported in part there, includes the statement
ExxonMobil has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in our 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders. We unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research contained in media reports that are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The exposé of Exxon’s research and quashing of its conclusions details its relationship with “the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”, but I decided to have a quick look at the claim that XOM “included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in our 10-K”, courtesy of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Edgar system.
In fact, there is no mention of the word “climate” in connection with climate change in any 10-K filing in the years 1997 to 2005 despite the aggressive advertising campaign detailed above. Beginning in 2006, the 10-K contained the single statement
laws and regulations related to environmental or energy security matters, including those addressing alternative energy sources and the risks of global climate change;
Note that despite the evidence of Exxon long understanding the risk, and admitting to such in its public advertisements, however waffling they were about the certainty and severity of the risk, all they are admitting here is that there is a risk to their business from laws and regulations which might affect their business, not climate change itself, nor the connections between their products and climate change.
Then, beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2014, which is the last year for which a 10-K is available from XOM in Edgar, they revised the statement to say
Due to concern over the risk of climate change, a number of countries have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Again note the phrasing: “Due to concern over the risk of climate change ….” This means (a) the regulations are about concern, not about risk, and (b) climate change may not have risk, and, so, such regulations are doubly silly.
They follow up that statement with:
Many governments are providing tax advantages and other subsidies and mandates to make alternative energy sources more competitive against oil and gas. Governments are also promoting research into new technologies to reduce the cost and increase the scalability of alternative energy sources. We are conducting our own research efforts into alternative energy, such as through sponsorship of the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University and research into hydrogen fuel cells and fuel-producing algae. Our future results may depend in part on the success of our research efforts and on our ability to adapt and apply the strengths of our current business model to providing the competitive energy products of the future.
First, Exxon is, strictly speaking a co-sponsor, not a sponsor. GCEP at Stanford also has GE, Schlumberger, Toyota, DuPont, and Bank of America as sponsors, and the total funding by the first four sponsors is (just) $225 million over 10 years. That’s chickenfeed. That’s all they’ve got for such a big problem?
Second, the aim of that project is “to conduct fundamental research on technologies that will permit the development of global energy systems with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.” They did not get the memo. (Or did they? See the figures there.) What’s needed is zero Carbon emissions and the IPCC has said that. But, probably, that’s not possible while maintaining Exxon’s “current business model”, and they know it.
Update, 7th November 2015
For those who might think invoking a moral judgment on this matter (“Evil”) is inappropriate, Stephan Lewandowsky‘s book review of Marshall’s Don’t Even Think About It provides an explanatory perspective.