New Study Puts Exxon’s Climate Denial Back in the Spotlight

by Naomi Ages

August 24, 2017

Exxon has known for decades what we all know now about climate change — it’s real, it’s us, and it’s bad. Now, two Harvard professors are taking them to task for years of denial.

Airship Over Dallas With Exxon Message

© Mike Stone / Greenpeace

Yesterday, a paper by Harvard professors Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran confirmed via *science* what Exxon has been challenging critics to do since InsideClimate News dropped its bombshell report in 2015: check the receipts and decide for yourself if Exxon knew.  

They analyzed almost 200 internal and external Exxon documents regarding climate change and came to the unequivocal conclusion that:

  • Exxon knew about climate change decades ago.
  • Exxon knew climate change was caused by humans.
  • Exxon knew climate change posed serious risks.

They also conclude that in the vast majority of its external communications, Exxon misled the public about those facts — for decades.

Just how bad is it? Pretty bad!

Eighty percent — i.e. almost all — of internal Exxon documents acknowledge that climate change is real and human-caused. Meanwhile, just 12 percent of the external documents Oreskes and Supran analyzed even mention that fact. And it gets worse. Alongside that tiny fraction of documents acknowledging the risks of climate change, 83 percent of the documents Exxon made available to the public express doubt that climate change is real and human-caused. So for the past two decades, 83 percent of the time, Exxon told us climate change might not be real, or that even if it was real, we don’t know what is really causing it.

And now we have elected officials at every level of government — including the White House — repeating and legitimizing that same climate denial playbook.

You might think this sounds familiar, and it should. Greenpeace has been exposing Exxon’s climate deception for years. Thousands of people like you have demanded that the Department of Justice investigate Exxon for fraud, and pressured Exxon to divulge the risks of climate change to its business.

Now that the spotlight is firmly on Exxon, it’s up to us to make sure it stays there. SHARE this story today to keep the pressure on and hold Exxon accountable for its decades of climate denial!

Naomi Ages

By Naomi Ages

Naomi Ages is the Climate Liability Project Lead at Greenpeace USA. She focuses on establishing legal, political, and financial accountability for climate change, and achieving justice for climate-impacted and vulnerable communities.

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