Exxon and the Oil Industry Knew About Climate Change

#ExxonKnew about climate change for decades, yet fueled a colossal denial machine to block any meaningful action to confront it. Now, thousands of us are fighting back.

Protest at ExxonMobil Shareholders Meeting in Dallas

© Greenpeace / Rex Curry

Exxon created and funded a colossal climate denial operation to protect its profits instead of doing something to prevent the biggest crisis of our generation. In the 1990s, the fossil fuel industry — with significant funding and participation from Exxon — launched a campaign to seed doubt about the causes and effects of climate change.

ExxonMobil continues to fund climate-denying organizations to this day, in an ironic contradiction to its recent public recognition of the problem.

For years, Greenpeace has campaigned to stop ExxonMobil’s colossal climate denial scheme. Recently, InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism revealed that Exxon was researching the causes of climate change and the dangers of climate disruption since at least the 1970s. Imagine where we would be if we had spent the last 40 years working to avert climate change and adapt to its impacts, instead of fighting for the recognition of basic climate science. If the public had known what Exxon knew, the world would be a very different place.

These reports spurred a wave of action against Exxon. For instance, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for a federal investigation into the company. Soon after, the New York Attorney General announced an investigation into Exxon for potential fraud. More than 350,000 of us have joined that call, petitioning the Department of Justice to investigate.

The Attorney General of Massachusetts has also confirmed that she is investigating Exxon for fraud. In addition, fifteen other attorneys general have made statements indicating that they are supportive of these investigations. We continue to call on the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon for potential fraud.

Exxon — and the fossil fuel industry at large — should not be able to buy political influence and stand in the way of the action we need to solve the international climate crisis.

Now Exxon and its allies in Congress are diverting attention away from legitimate law enforcement investigations in order to make the issue political and undermine the attorneys’ general work.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has issued subpoenas Greenpeace USA, eight other environmental organizations, and the Attorneys General requiring to turn over all communications related to the investigations into Exxon. He accuses us of infringing on Exxon’s first amendment rights. We have refused to comply with the subpoena, and our work to hold Exxon and other oil companies accountable for their climate denial scheme continues.

We all deserve to know the truth of what Exxon knew and what Exxon did, which could be committing one of the most dangerous acts of fraud in human history. Join us in demanding accountability.

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