Exposed! Big oil's dirty tricks

Feature story - 19 August, 2009
Following our exposure of a secret oil industry plan to fake public concern over US climate legislation - we're putting big oil companies in the spotlight to make sure nobody falls for their dirty tricks. The leaked memo from the American Petroleum Institute (API) revealed its request for members to have employees masquerade as concerned 'Energy Citizens' at rallies held across the US this month.

Cut the crap! Climate change is the most pressing environmental crisis of our time.

This attempt to deceive politicians and the public by forging a grassroots campaign (known as "astroturfing") was highlighted by our activists who laid real Astroturf outside the API headquaters in Washington D.C. They also held a sign reading "Climate fraud funded by big oil" and branded the Astroturf with the logos of oil giants ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron.

Game plan known

The API memo, leaked to Greenpeace last week, called on the CEOs of some of the world's biggest oil companies to "indicate to your company leadership - your strong support for employee participation in the rallies." The API's President, Jack Gerard, further warns the world's oil barons to treat the memo as "sensitive," arguing that "we don't want our critics to know our game plan".

This memo and the rallies are in direct contradiction to many of its members' stated support for "cap and trade" climate legislation in the US. Not only that, but the API was citing misleading economic statistics to back its campaign.

Come clean

This scam makes a mockery of the public debate on climate action. Energy companies could be putting their workers to work on an energy revolution, rather than busing them out of their workplaces to attend bogus rallies.

So far this year, over US$ 82 million has been spent on corporate lobbying including against climate change legislation, by the oil and gas industry alone. The CEOs and Presidents of API member companies like ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, General Electric and others must publicly denounce these dirty tricks. They must make clear to Governments their support for strong climate action at the upcoming UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

Government climate and energy policy must be based on climate science and the genuine expression of public opinion - not vested interests.

World leaders

The UN Climate Summit is rapidly approaching - in addition to calling on big oil to stop the lies - we're also asking for all Heads of State to show up to the meeting in Copenhagen this December - and take personal responsibility for a good climate deal.

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