ExxonMobil hit back at today at what it called “inaccurate and deliberately misleading” media and environmental activists’ allegations about the company’s climate research.
The oil major criticised the Los Angeles Times and a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-profit environmental news website of cherry-picking quotes to fit a narrative that suggested Exxon knew about the effects of climate change as early as the 1970s.
Exxon claims both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times ignored evidence provided by the company of continuous and publicly available climate research that refutes their claims.
The stories have prompted political attacks by Senators Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier.
InsideClimate News – a Pulitizer prize winning online news site – published a series of articles in September called Exxon: The Road Not Taken. The website alleged Exxon’s own research confirmed fossil fuels’ role in global warming decades ago and that top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from the greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.
According to reports in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, the oil company’s scientists concluded in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s that climate change was real, would transform the Earth’s landscape and was driven by human activity — especially the burning of fossil fuels.
“For nearly 40 years we have supported development of climate science in partnership with governments and academic institutions, and did and continue to do that work in an open and transparent way,” said Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs.
“Activists deliberately cherry-picked statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers.
“These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding.”
“The facts are that we identified the potential risks of climate change and have taken the issue very seriously,” said Cohen. “We embarked on decades of research in collaboration with many parties, including the Department of Energy, leading academic institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and others to advance climate science.”
ExxonMobil said scientists continue to research and publish findings to improve understanding of climate system science as a basis for society’s response to climate change and have produced more than 50 peer-reviewed publications on topics including the global carbon cycle, detection and attribution of climate change, low carbon technologies and analysis of future scenarios for energy and climate.
It said its scientists have been selected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations’ most authoritative body on the subject, as authors of their past four major assessment reports, and have contributed to National Research Council boards and committees on climate change.
“We recognise that our past participation in broad coalitions that opposed ineffective climate policies subjects us to criticism by climate activist groups,” said Cohen. “We will continue to advocate for policies that reduce emissions while enabling economic growth.”