ExxonMobil has known for decades that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are contributing to global warming. But it didn’t share this information with the public; instead, it actively suppressed science from its own researchers showing that climate change was happening, and it was caused in part by our widespread use of coal, oil and gas.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry spent massive amounts of money on campaigns to mislead the public and policymakers, and promote widespread climate denial.
A few years ago our sister organization, Food & Water Europe, asked the EU to act on ExxonMobil’s climate deception. Now the European parliament is holding hearings on March 21, and it’s time that Congress does the same.
Food & Water Europe Campaigns Officer Frida Kieninger initially petitioned the EU in 2016, and is excited to be attending the hearing this week and demanding accountability. “It’s time EU parliamentarians strip Exxon of its priority lobbying access, which is slowing down urgently needed ambitious climate policies,” says Kieninger. “While Exxon has a history of snatching up lobbying opportunities in the EU, the company is refusing to show up to defend its behavior. Exxon must be held accountable. We are asking the EU Parliament to strip the multinational of its EU Parliament lobby badges, just like it did with Monsanto in 2017.”
Dr. Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard and MIT, who in 2017 co-authored with Professor Naomi Oreskes the first academic, peer-reviewed analysis of ExxonMobil's history of climate communications, will be testifying at the hearings as an expert witness. "Our research shows that ExxonMobil has misled the public about climate change and its implications," says Supran. "In fact, thousands of pages of documented evidence reveal that the fossil fuel industry has known about the basic dangers of global warming for 60 years; yet instead of taking action or warning the public, it turned around and spent decades orchestrating and funding denial and delay campaigns dwarfing even those of Big Tobacco."
Last week, more became known about just how much the fossil fuel industry spends to influence opinion in the U.S., with a new report showing that it spent at least $1.4 billion on public relations and advertising firms between 2008 and 2017.
“Exxon’s influence by deceit must end,” says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe. “Exxon has known about its role in fueling climate change for decades and its approach has been deny, deny, deny. It’s time for members of the EU parliament to rethink whether they want to continue giving Exxon the privilege of peddling its fraud, and to consider the impact the company’s trickery has had on all of us as we teeter on the edge of climate chaos.
Two U.S. states (Massachusetts and New York) have launched legal actions in response to Exxon’s climate coverup, but more needs to be done to hold Exxon accountable at the federal level. Congressional hearings are a good start.