Environmentalists have called for an end to campaigns designed to slow action on global warming, after it emerged oil giant Exxon Mobil was still funding “climate sceptic” organisations.
Exxon Mobil promised in 2007 to stop funding groups “whose position on climate change could divert attention from discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally-responsible manner”.
A list published by Exxon Mobil of donations it made to public policy research bodies last year shows several sceptic organisations each got tens of thousands of dollars.
They include groups such as the US-based Media Research Centre, which claimed e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit showed scientists were manipulating data to back up the theory of man-made climate change.
Exxon Mobil has also said it was not directly or indirectly involved in funding the International Conference on Climate Change, a major conference questioning the science of climate change. Several groups which received Exxon funding, all based in the US, co-sponsored the event in New York.
Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said yesterday the funding from Exxon Mobil let the groups disseminate “inaccurate and misleading information to the public”.
“These groups are quite clearly deliberately misleading the public for ideological reasons,” he said. “They are free-market groups opposed to any regulation of business including on greenhouse gases.
“They are guilty of gross hypocrisy, because they were very vocal in their condemnation of the University of East Anglia and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and talked about public trust.
“They are very clearly misleading the public and they are not open about funding from Exxon Mobil.”
He said scientists had to declare openly who was funding their research, and the public deserved to know where the money to support policy groups commenting on issues came from.
He also called on Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation to reveal its funding sources, which the former chancellor of the exchequer declined to do when he appeared before a committee of MPs last year over the “climategate” affair caused by the e-mails hacked from UEA.