A couple years back, our intrepid Greenpeace US research team -- through their work on the ExxonSecrets website -- exposed the role that Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) was playing in trying to ensure Global Warming didn't impact US energy policy -- absurdly in one case being asked to play political assassin by folks in the Bush Administration's Council for Environmental Quality who thought the Bush Administration EPA chief wasn't skeptical enough about climate change. (They uncovered a nice little smoking gun memo exposing the collusion.)
So when the news came down that Exxon has finally cut off funding for the ultra-capitalist extremists at CEI and a few other front groups, there were more than a few folks around here glowing with the contentment that victory can bring.
CEI has received more than 2 million USD from Exxon since 1998, and are probably most infamous for the whacky "They call it pollution, we call it life" ad campaign in homage to the wonders of Carbon Dioxide.
But in today's mailbag I find this note from Shawnee Hoover of www.ExxposeExxon.com rightly warning that dropping funding for a handful of the more extreme skeptics doesn't necessarily equal a shift in policy.
Is ExxonMobil still double-crossing America?
No doubt you’ve heard or maybe even written in your blog, Greenpeace Blog, that ExxonMobil may be changing its tune on funding front groups that deny the science on global warming.
The real fun (or work) is just beginning! We need to keep exposing Exxon’s double-cross of America on global warming and push the company over the edge toward real commitments and not just PR trickery! Especially now as Exxon is due to announce its 2006 record profits next Thursday. Exxon will likely announce, for the second year in a row, the largest profits ever made by a corporation in history. Are they still spending those profits on junk science?
“ExxonMobil has been double-crossing America on global warming for over a decade,” says Shawnee Hoover, campaign director of Exxpose Exxon, a coalition of major environmental groups pressuring ExxonMobil to act on global warming.
“Ending the funding of five out of 40 plus front groups denying the reality of global warming is either an earnest first step or another attempt to double-cross America. They haven’t clarified which yet.”
Of course ExxonMobil is starting to budge. It’s having serious public relations problems. Word is getting out that the company’s been blocking action on global warming and funding fake science and front groups to deceive the public about global warming. Pressure on ExxonMobil to stop double-crossing America has come from scientists, politicians, and hundreds of thousands of Exxpose Exxon activists.
In response to this public pressure, ExxonMobil’s public relations director slipped a comment to the Wall Street Journal last week that it was going to stop funding “five or six” groups that deny the reality of global warming. Nothing has come from ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson except that the company is not changing any policies.
ExxonMobil has so far not issued an official statement, not declared its reasoning, and not disclosed the names of the groups it has stopped funding.
Certainly, ExxonMobil wouldn’t be trying to double-cross the public in exchange for a quick PR fix and some smoother ground with politicians, right?
When asked for proof, the company offered none but said the names of the five or six groups will be revealed later this year when the company’s 2006 worldwide gift report comes out.
Wait, 2006 gift report? What about the funding of front groups in 2007? ExxonMobil admitted a few months ago that it did not give financial support in 2006 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that claims carbon dioxide is good for you and that global warming isn’t a threat. Exxon also said that it reserves the right to fund the group again anytime in the future. Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has received over $2,000,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
ExxonMobil has not responded to a request from the Exxpose Exxon coalition that it state whether or not the move signifies a change in the company’s policy and whether it will continue to withhold funding from the groups. (Read Exxpose Exxon’s letter to Exxon.)
Unconfirmed inside intelligence tells Exxpose Exxon that ExxonMobil is trying to get the story that it has stopped funding denial groups as widely published in the press as it can.
Why would ExxonMobil want to keep funding groups that deny global warming, but tell the public otherwise? Perhaps because the funding of denial groups has been instrumental in ExxonMobil’s strategy to block action on global warming and keep the U.S. addicted to oil. The more oil we consume, the more profits they make.
When asked last May why it was funding junk science, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was described by the Washington Post as combative and told the Post that the company was simply taking part in the “debate” over global warming. (Read the Post article.)
ExxonMobil has created the illusion of a global warming debate where there isn’t one – at least within the scientific community. Taking directly from the playbook of the tobacco industry (even using some of the same personnel), ExxonMobil has waged a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign to deceive the public about the science of global warming like Big Tobacco did about smoking.
An internal memo of the American Petroleum Institute, twice led by ExxonMobil, revealed ExxonMobil’s strategy: “Victory will be achieved when uncertainties in climate science become part of the conventional wisdom" for "average citizens" and "the media."
In less-than-coincidental timing, Exxon’s announcement comes on the heels of a new report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a core member of Exxpose Exxon. The report documents Exxon’s key tactic - to spend a relatively modest sum, around $16 million since 1998, on a closely connected web of at least 40 front groups and industry think tanks that parade around the same handful of scientists, whose views on global warming have been scientifically discredited, and form an echo chamber of doubt around the science of global warming. (See the report: Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Change.)
The array of denial groups is still funded by ExxonMobil – well, maybe minus five. And they’re still determined to confuse the public about the causes of global warming and give cover to politicians who don’t support a transition to clean, renewable energy. Be prepared for a flurry of activity in coming weeks from the Exxon-funded denial gallery as the world’s foremost authority on global warming, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), releases another climate science report underscoring the broad consensus that fossil fuels are causing global warming.
ExxonMobil is just starting to feel the pressure! In the midst of the mid-term elections in November, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) publicly urged ExxonMobil to “come clean” about its funding of global warming denier groups. (Read the Senators letter.) Just prior, ExxonMobil had received another scathing letter from Britain’s world renowned scientific academy, the Royal Society to do the same. (Read the letter and more.) In addition to scientists and politicians, ExxonMobil has received over a million letters from over 500,000 Exxpose Exxon activists demanding that it stop funding global warming deniers and double-crossing America on global warming.
“ExxonMobil has always acted like it was untouchable, but clearly public pressure on the company and our politicians is having an effect,” said Hoover. “We’re happy to see the company moving, but we deserve to know now if this is a real policy change or just crisis management.”
ExxonMobil has long shown that it’s not willing to move on its own. The task is up to us to push the company to stop double-crossing America and start being apart of the solution.
The people, especially you, deserve the credit for thinking the unthinkable and pushing ExxonMobil to take this perhaps, maybe, first step – now join us in pushing Exxon all the way! If ExxonMobil stops funding denial groups, it will clear the pathway for politicians and industry to use renewable energy solutions to solve global warming and our nation’s oil addiction.
Thanks for all you do. Feel free to contact me anytime.
The ExxposeExxon.com Coalition is a collaborative project of some of the nation's largest environmental and public interest advocacy groups. For more information, please visit www.ExxposeExxon.com.
Exxpose Exxon Members include: Alaska Coalition, Alaska Oceans Program, Alaska Wilderness League, Co-op America, Corporate Accountability International, Defenders of Wildlife, Ecopledge.com, Environmental Action, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, MoveOn.org, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, True Majority, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.