Today’s public hearing on climate change denialism highlighted oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil’s responsibility for deliberately spreading false information, and underlined the impact of such misinformation on EU climate action. The company’s refusal to attend the hearing has led a growing number of Members of the European Parliament to back civil society calls to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their parliamentary lobby badges.
The first hearing on corporate climate change denial at the EU level saw experts give testimony on the history and political impact of the issue, as well as the role oil and gas company ExxonMobil has played in misleading policy-makers and the public. “I have only shown you the tip of the iceberg,” MIT/Harvard climate science historian Dr. Geoffrey Supran told Parliamentarians, presenting ExxonMobil as “one cog in a well-funded, well-oiled denial machine.”
However, the company’s absence at the hearing will likely have unpleasant consequences for its lobbyists. Similar to Monsanto when it refused to follow a parliamentary summons for a hearing, ExxonMobil may be directly reprimanded by MEPs: a set of rules established in 2017 makes it possible to revoke the parliament access badges of any company ignoring a summons.
Considering that ExxonMobil has spent over €35 million since 2010 to lobby the EU and protect its lucrative business interests, taking away the EU Parliament’s accreditation of the corporation’s in-house lobbyists would be a first step to free EU climate policy from the decades-long stranglehold of the fossil fuels industry, and send a strong signal to other companies.
More and more MEPs are backing the civil society organisations demanding ExxonMobil be stripped of its lobby badges. Ahead of the next meetings of the EU Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, where such decisions are made, Food & Water Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory, and Friends of the Earth Europe are working to raise more awareness of the necessity to keep fossil fuel corporations as far away from climate and energy policy-making as possible – especially ones as unrepentant as ExxonMobil.
Frida Kieninger of Food & Water Europe, and official parliamentary petitioner:
“Parliamentarians at today’s hearing learned just how dangerous and omnipresent deliberate misinformation about the grave climate impact of fossil fuels really is. We still have a small window of opportunity to stop absolute climate chaos, so it is only logical to start by shutting out any corporation misleading policy-makers and the public. MEP Molly Scott-Cato announced that the process to strip ExxonMobil of its lobby badges will start today. This action is welcomed, and a necessary first step.
Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory:
“ExxonMobil’s well-funded EU lobbying shows that the company has moved from denying climate change to delaying and weakening climate action. But looking at the havoc global warming is already wreaking in many parts of the world, the impact is equally devastating. The EU Parliament must show Exxon and the rest of the fossil fuel industry the door, no matter how deep their pockets. Millions of young people are taking to the streets to demand determined climate action, but do MEPs accept the challenge?
Notes to editors:
- (Re-)Watch the public hearing here. The European Parliament’s petition and environment committees took it upon themselves to organise the hearing after the European Commission rejected a petition by NGO Food & Water Europe demanding ExxonMobil be held accountable for its climate change cover-up. In the US, ExxonMobil is already facing court cases in Massachusetts and the state of New York over its climate change cover-up.
- A media stunt took place before the meeting; photos are available here and may be used freely under a creative commons license (© Lora Verheecke, Friends of the Earth Europe).
- “Climate Arson”, new research by Corporate Europe Observatory, zooms further in on ExxonMobil’s lobby spending, meetings, networks, and lobby strategy shift: having denied climate change and its causes for decades, ExxonMobil now tries to safeguard its fossil fuels business while presenting a climate-friendly face to policy-makers and the public.
- ExxonMobil recently reported its latest profit figures as $20.8 billion in 2018.
Food & Water Europe: Frida Kieninger, [email protected], +32 289 310 45 / +32 487 24 99 05
Corporate Europe Observatory: Pascoe Sabido, [email protected], +44 7969 665 189/ +32 486 85 74 16