ExxonMobil talks up tackling climate change 'while still funding climate deniers'

Oil and gas giant reportedly gave $1.65m to organisations contesting climate legislation

Chloe Farand
Saturday 01 July 2017 18:14 BST
ExxonMobil is one of the world’s biggest companies
ExxonMobil is one of the world’s biggest companies

ExxonMobil has repeatedly claimed to be involved in the fight against climate change, but official documents show it continues to spend millions supporting climate deniers.

The company's executives along with a string of other senior representatives at major oil and gas companies including Shell and BP appealed to Donald Trump last month urging him to remain in the Paris Agreement.

Former ExxonMobil CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was said to be one of the US President's advisors encouraging him not to withdraw from the historic climate accord.

On its website, the company says it taking action on climate change by supporting research for technology breakthroughs. It has also come out in support of a carbon tax.

However, the finance records of the oil and gas giant appear to tell a different story.

The annual list of beneficiaries of the company’s “public information and policy research grant” shows that in 2016 ExxonMobil spent $1.65m (£1.23m) on dozens of think tanks and advocacy groups that contest climate legislation and oppose the Paris Agreement, reported Alternet.

This was part of a $6.5m (£5m) pot used by ExxonMobil, one of the world’s biggest companies, to fund research and policy groups that year.

Some of these groups also appear on the website ExxonSecrets, a platform created by Kert Davies, a former researcher director at Greenpeace US who now runs the Climate Investigations Centre.

We still don't know if Trump believes climate change exists

ExxonSecrets aims to provide a record of the company’s funding history to organisations which contest man-made climate change.

It claims that between 1998 and 2014, ExxonMobil spent nearly $31m (£24m) on funding 69 organisations that worked to spread climate denial.

The latest findings revealed by the document published on ExxonMobil's website would still have to be added to that figure.

Among the funding donated to climate denier groups last year, about 87 per cent went to four institutions including the US Chamber of Commerce, the Manhattan Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the American Enterprise Institute.

The four institutions are also listed on ExxonSecrets as previously having received money from ExxonMobil.

The US Chamber of Commerce is known for its lobbying activities to fight climate change legislation including its call for the US President to pull out of the Paris Agreement. It received $1m (£768,000) from ExxonMobil.

In a report in March this year, the US Chamber of Commerce claimed that the Paris Agreement could cost the US economy $3trillion (£2.3trillion) and cut 6.5 million jobs from the industrial sector by 2040.

But several leading publications, including the Washington Post, found that the numbers which Mr Trump quoted in his speech announcing the US was pulling out from the Paris Agreement had been overestimated and did not take into account a range of other factors, including the benefits of reducing climate change.

Among the other organisations supported by ExxonMobil is the American Enterprise Institute, which has called the Paris Agreement an “absurdity” and said the US should withdraw from the accord.

But on the ExxonMobil site, the company says it is working to provide the world with energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting climate research.

It reads: “The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.

“ExxonMobil is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, helping consumers reduce their emissions, supporting research that leads to technology breakthroughs and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.”

The Independent has contacted ExxonMobil for comment.

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