"Is ExxonMobil the World's Worst Climate Criminal?"

 

Public meeting hosted by SOAS Green Group

This was a lively, well-attended meeting, held on the Vernon Square campus of the School of African and Oriental studies. First to speak was Mika Mina Paluello, from Platform , who filled us in with details about the curent status of ExxonMobil's oil business, and the massive investment they have made in finding new oil reserves - an investment they are determined to protect at all costs. Next was Claire Fauset, from Corporate Watch, who explained why she thought "genocide" might not be an inappropriate term to describe the impacts of Exxon's climate disinformation campaign over the last ten years or more. She went on to say that now that we were winning the argument about the seriousness of the climate threat we had to face the problem of the "decoy" - that is things that purported to be part of the solution - like carbon "offsetting" - but which were really nothing of the sort. Brief contributions followed from Derek Wall, principal speaker of the Green Party who reminded us that the people who were "murdering the planet had names and addresses" (as in the famous quote) and Martin Empson from Respect, who emphasised the need for a popular movement to force governments and companies to act. Jeremy Legget, Director of 'Solar Century' and author of "The Carbon War" and "Half gone", then returned the focus squarely onto Exxon and their misdeeds over the last ten years and his personal experience of their devious manouevres. He emphasised that campaigning against them had had results and that in certain areas they were already on the retreat.

Phil Thornhill (CCC national coordinator) emphasised that even if they were no longer "denying' climate change Exxon (and the people they funded) were still dangerously undermining the arguments for action, in other ways - like suggesting we did not need mandatory emissions cuts because "new technologies" would solve the problem. He also drew everyone's attention to the demo at Exxon HQ on Good Friday and said that all creative contributions to this would be really welcome. Then the floor was open for discussion until Chris Huhne MP - the Lib Dem shadow environment secretary - arrived. He had been expected late because of a vote in parliament, but was now able to tell us about his personal experience of Exxon, who, in a personal phone call to him, had tried to discredit the author of a letter written on behalf of the Royal society, criticising Exxon's funding of climate disinformation. Chris Huhne went on to outline some of the Lib Dem plans for tackling climate change and, once the floor was open, a lively debate ensued with different political approaches exlored and various aspects of climate policy explored. Jeremy Legget argued the need for "positive feedback loops" between consumers and companies while Claire Fauset and Derek Wall were sceptical about whether companies would ever really be part of the solution. What was apparent, above all, however was that people from a very wide spectrum of differing views were united in their abhorrence of ExxonMobil's climate disinformation record. The vigorous debate was chaired - with his usual Solomonic wisdom - by Nick Hutton. All in all a lively and interesting evening before participants retired to the Golden Lion and/or to consider their imaginitive contibution to the great Day of Anti-Exxon Action on Good Friday.