ExxonMobil, the Number One CORPORATE Climate Change Villain
Exxon is the power behind Bush and his blocking of international progress towards an emissions reductions treaty. Exxon runs a cynical campaign of disinformation on climate change and lobbies vigorously against any action to deal with climate change.
Bush has not only rejected but continously sought to undermine the Kyoto Protocol and any meaningful action to bring down global emissions of greenhouse gases.
It is no big secret that he has done this in response to the powerful fossil fuel lobby in the United States - and in particular the oil lobby. It is well know that Bush (as one time founder of Arbusto Energy Inc, President of Spectrum 7 Energy Corp and Director of Harken Energy Corp - all oil companies) has close connections with the Texas oil industry. Not to mention the connections of Vice President Dick Cheney as ex-CEO of Haliburton oil company.
Texan-based ExxonMobil (trading under the brand name 'Esso' in the UK) has been at the forefront of the massive lobbying effort by the fossil fuel industry in the US against US acceptance of Kyoto or any international agreement on emissions reductions. Other fossil fuel companies have played an important role - for instance Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, the role of which in the lobbying that pressured Bush into rejecting Kyoto in 2001 was well reported by BBC 2's 'Money Programme' (and see, for instance here ). But ExxonMobil has been much the most agressive and influential of all the US fossil fuel companies in the campaign that has been waged against Kyoto and to stop the US government placing any effective curbs on US emissions of greenhouse gases.
Exxon is the largest oil company in the world. It makes more than $ 1,000 a second, and last year made the biggest annual profits of any company ever - $ 36 billion. Exxon uses its incredible wealth to back Bush : 1.376 milion dollars in the 2000 election cycle, with 90% of its political donations going to the Republicans. It expects a 'pay-back'. The fact that it has got its way is suggested by the fact that the Bush adminstration's policies on energy and climate are identical to those put forward by ExxonMobil.
Exxon funds a variety of mainly extreme right wing neo-liberal think tanks which lobby against Kyoto and are influential in shaping Republican Party policy. Most notorious amongst these is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, of which the infamous Myron Ebell is the spokeperson. Ebell famously attacked the British government's chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, in November 2004 - demonstrating a willingness to attempt to discredit even the most prestigous scientists who are vocal about the scale of the climate change threat. To find out more about the organisations Exxon funds go to www.exxonsecrets.com .
The close control that Exxon has over Bush's climate policy is mainly invisible but occasionally it breaks the surface. In 2002 the New York times published a letter from Exxon's chief scientific advisor to the Whitehouse, recommending that it engineer the removal of Bob Watson (who had been moderately outspoken about the dangers of global warming) from his chairmanship of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change), the United Nation's main think-tank on climate change. Some months later, when the opportunity arose, the Whitehouse duly did just that......... See more here and here .
More recently the Washington Post has revealed that Harlan Watson the US's super-obstructive chief negotoiator at the UN climate talks (eg in Montreal last December) was originally recommended to the Whitehouse in a letter that came from..........ExxonMobil ! See the Washington Post article here
Exxon does not just seek to influence the Bush adminstration: it also seeks to influence public opinion in the US. It has run advertising campaigns condemning the Kyoto Protocol and dismissing climate change. Most damagingly it has waged an agressive campaign of disinformation on climate change, with a conscious policy to to confuse people over the science and exaggerate the uncertainties in it. To that end Exxon funds the tiny minority of scientists who question global warming. With Exxon's money behind them they are able to win a disproportionate amount of attention and media coverage - so that they appear far more than the small bunch of discredited eccentrics (or downright charlatans) they really are. To find out more about the "scientists" Exxon funds go here .
Exxon funds what has been called a climate change "denial industry" and George Monbiot has shown that elements of this 'denial industry' were previously employed by the tobacco industry to confuse the science that proved the damage that smoking does to health. See the second chapter of George Monbiot's new book "Heat" and here .
In September 2006 Exxon was even condemned by the Royal Society for supporting groups that have"misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence". See more here. And see a very clear anlysis of Exxon's disinformation operation, with detailed reports and relevant documents, compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, USA - here. .
Exxon' s disinformation and lobbying efforts extend to Europe. See articles in the Independent, December 2005, Guardian, December 2005 , Independent, December 2006 and Spinwatch, 2006. . In the UK Exxon funds the 'International Policy Network" which takes every opportunity to grab media exposure for its arguments against taking action against climate change. See our action against the IPN in October 2006 here .
Exxon invests zero in renewable energy. This has to do with the fact that it lost some money trying to diversify this way in the 80s but it puts it well behind even the lacklustre performance of other oil companies in this field.
Exxon's notorious CEO, Lee Raymond, retired in 2005 to be replaced by Rex Tillerson, who has tried to improve Exxon's image by adopting a slightly less overtly bullish and aggressive stance on the climate issue. But the lobbying and funding of climate change deniers and climate sceptics carries on as before - and the malign influence on the Bush adminsitration remains as strong as ever. Meanwhile in an egregious display of the Bush administration’s allegiance to ExxonMobil and the oil and gas industry, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has actually hired Lee Raymond to head an influential study to develop policy solutions to America’s energy crisis ! To find out more and write a letter of protest to the US Energy Secretary click here.
It has been estimated that the Exxon-funded 'denial industry' has delayed effective global action on climate change by several years. There can be no doubt that very real damage has been done by Exxon's unrivalled negative influence on the Bush administration and their aggressive campaign to wreck any kind of effective international climate treaty. As we slide closer to the abyss of some irreversible 'tipping point' in the accellerating destabilisation of global climate - and all the catastrophic impacts and unimaginable human suffering that will involve - we cannot afford to have the malign hand of the world's biggest oil company pushing us even more quickly towards the brink.
For the "ExposeExxon" coalition of organisations campaigning against ExxonMobil in the Unites States click here.
For a detailed analysis of the Exxon-funded network of lobby groups that work to thwart any action to deal with climate change see www.exxonsecrets.org .
For a Greenpeace view on Exxon click here