March 18th, 2019

EXXON Climate Change Denial to come under fire in EU Parliament

For immediate release, March 18, 2019

Brussels – After decades of concealing the link between fossil fuels and global warming, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil will be the subject of the first EU-level hearing on climate-change denial on Thursday 21 March in Brussels. The company, whose lobbying has weakened European climate action, is refusing to attend the public event; demands to revoke Exxon lobbyists’ access badges to the European Parliament are growing louder.

During Thursday’s hearing, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the interested public will hear expert testimony on the history and political impact of climate change denial and the role ExxonMobil has played in this. Exxon has known about the threat of man-made climate change for over 55 years and has since done its best to spread doubt and misinformation – first about the existence of climate change, then the extent of the problem and its cause.

Despite claiming to have stopped their deception campaign, Exxon continues to fund lobby groups and think tanks spreading doubt about climate change. While the company is already under investigation in the US, the hearing in Brussels, put in motion by environmental NGO Food & Water Europe, will be the first time its misdeeds are scrutinised at the EU level.

Through direct lobbying, sponsorship of think tanks, membership in industry associations and for-hire lobbyists from consultancies, Exxon has established a solid presence in Brussels and is making its leverage in the political heart of the EU felt.

Having spent more than €30 million since 2010 to lobby EU decision-makers and organise numerous meetings with high-level EU Commission officials, the oil and gas giant continues to fight against renewable energy and peddles false ‘solutions’ to the climate crisis, such as new investments in gas infrastructure, as well as carbon capture and storage. A new Corporate Europe Observatory report, due out on Tuesday 19 March, will reveal the latest figures, connections and impact of Exxon’s lobbying ahead of the upcoming hearing.

Food & Water Europe Campaigns Officer Frida Kieninger said:

Exxon’s deceitful lobbying has been slowing down ambitious EU climate policies for much too long. While Exxon has been keen to snatch up any opportunity to lobby EU decision-makers, it is refusing to show up at the EU Parliament hearing to explain its behavior. Exxon must be held accountable. We are asking parliamentarians to strip the multinational of its EU Parliament lobby badges, just like they did with Monsanto in 2017.”

Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher Pascoe Sabido added:

“Exxon not only has oil and gas fields in Europe, but also considerable influence over EU policy-making. The company has used its leverage to deceive politicians, delay and derail climate action and push for false solutions like gas to safeguard its business. Exxon and other big polluting corporations continue to show us that they put their profits before all else. Our only chance to tackle the looming climate catastrophe is to keep them as far away from policy-making as possible.”

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Europe and Food & Water Watch commented:

“Exxon’s influence by deceit must end. It’s time for members of the EU parliament to rethink whether they want to continue giving Exxon the privilege of peddling its fraud, and to consider the impact the company’s trickery has had on all of us as we teeter on the edge of climate chaos.”

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Notes to editors:

  • THE HEARING: The hearing will take place on Thursday 21 March, 10:30-12:30, European Parliament, József Antall building, Room 4Q1 (JAN4Q1), and will be live-streamed here. The draft agenda can be found HERE. To register and get access to the Parliament, please email your request stating your name, nationality, date of birth and passport number to [email protected]

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: There will be a media stunt before the hearing with spokespeople on site, taking place at 09:30 at the Espace Simone Veil entrance of the Altiero Spinelli building of the EU Parliament.

PRESS CONFERENCE: After the hearing, Climate Science Historian Dr. Geoffrey Supran (Harvard University & MIT), MEPs Eleonora Evi and Molly Scott Cato, and Frida Kieninger (Food & Water Europe) will answer press questions at 13:00 at the Politikovskaya Room, PHS 0A50.

  • REVOKING LOBBYIST ACCESS badges to the EU Parliament: When in 2017 chemicals company Monsanto (since bought by Bayer) refused to attend a public EU Parliament hearing on allegations of regulatory interference, parliamentarians for the first time employed new rules to revoke parliament access for companies ignoring summons.
  • EXXON LOBBYING RESEARCH: Corporate Europe Observatory’s new research report on Exxon’s lobby spending, networks and influencing tactics in the EU will be published on Tuesday 19 March at 10:00. Advance copies of “Climate Arson: The strategies and impact of ExxonMobil’s dangerous EU lobbying” are available on request.
  • BACKSTORY to the hearing: Following the European Commission’s 2017 rejection of a petition by Food & Water Europe demanding ExxonMobil be held accountable for its climate change cover-up, the European Parliament’s petition and environment committees have taken it upon themselves to organise a hearing.
  • IN THE US: Exxon is already facing court cases in Massachusetts and the state of New York over its climate cover-up.

Contacts:

Food & Water Europe: Frida Kieninger (DE, EN, FR, ES), [email protected], +32 289 310 45 / +32 487 24 99 05
Corporate Europe Observatory: Pascoe Sabido (EN, FR, ES), [email protected], +44 7969 665 189/ +32 486 85 74 16

Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment. https://www.foodandwatereurope.org
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