In the 1950s, the tobacco industry made us believe that smoking “[r]enews and restores bodily energy” and one particular brand’s ads told us “[n]o other cigarette approaches such a degree of health protection and taste satisfaction”. Claims like this would be impossible nowadays, thanks to a successful fight against the cigarette lobby’s misleading campaigns.
But what about statements by the oil and gas industry, calling natural gas a “clean fossil fuel”? We still have a way to go until everyone immediately sees how obviously wrong this statement is, thanks to the continued efforts of oil and gas giants to hide the truth from the concerned public. The fossil fuel industry gave more than $30 million to climate denier think tanks and politicians, telling us that their activities do not pose a threat for the global climate. For years they have earned billions by contributing significantly to global warming while not taking any responsibility for the damage to our environment, economy and society.
As if all of this were not enough, there is increasing evidence that in the 1980s, and maybe even much earlier, oil and gas goliath ExxonMobil had concrete information about the dangers of CO2 for climate change. ExxonMobil’s own in-house scientists warned about the impacts of global warming and the company considered this in their plans and operations. And while carefully keeping the facts to themselves, ExxonMobil started a denial campaign covering up the certainty that climate change and fossil fuel extraction are closely linked.
In the US, several Attorney Generals have launched investigations against ExxonMobil and the company has striked back, calling the investigation “politically motivated” and counting those having received generous funding from the oil and gas industry on their side.
ExxonMobil’s Ties with Climate Deniers in Europe
ExxonMobil’s climate cover up is also causing a stir in Europe. The company is a significant lobby power in the EU, having spent around $8 million in 2014 for Universities, direct lobbying, think tanks and public policy institutions.
How much ExxonMobil is actually entangled with the European climate denial scene becomes obvious when looking at the company’s actions after its pledge to stop funding climate denial in 2007. The pledge was obviously not meant to be taken too seriously: There is evidence that ExxonMobil is still funding climate deniers in the US. Yet, after the company’s pledge, many of the climate skeptic think-tanks in Europe the company used to fund seem to have shut down entirely.
There is no doubt that the ExxonMobil climate cover up is also a hot topic in Europe and we definitely need to have a closer look at the information the company wants to withhold from us now.
SUCCESS — The petition (now closed) has resulted in a public hearing at the European Parliament on 21 March, 2019.