Exxon Mobil refutes environmentalist claims it lied about climate change research

Exxon Mobil says it has active research program into lower-carbon emission technologies, carbon capture and storage, advanced engines

Exxon Mobil is counter attacking after months of allegations by environmental activists that it knew about climate change impacts as early as the 1980s and covered up the information.

Exxon Mobil

Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs, Exxon Mobil.

The company released a statement say that media and environmental activists’ accusations about its climate research are inaccurate and deliberately misleading.

“For nearly 40 years we have supported development of climate science in partnership with governments and academic institutions, and did and continue to do that work in an open and transparent way,” said Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs for the Irvine, Texas-based corporation.

“Activists deliberately cherry-picked statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers. These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding.”

The allegations were contained in reports distributed by InsideClimate News, an anti-oil and gas activist organization, and the Los Angeles Times, and have prompted political attacks by Senators Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier.

Exxon Mobil

Bill McKibben protesting outside a Vermont gas station.

Environmentalist Bill McKibben of 350.org was arrested Thursday after staging a one-man protest against Exxon Mobil outside a gas station in Vermont. McKibben released a statement online that included:

In the 28 years I’ve been following the story of global warming, this is the single most outrageous set of new revelations that journalists have uncovered. Given its unique credibility—again, it was the biggest corporation on earth—ExxonMobil could have changed history for the better. Had it sounded the alarm—had it merely said ‘our internal research shows the world’s scientists are right’—it would have saved a quarter century of wheel-spinning.

Both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times ignored evidence provided by the company of continuous and publicly available climate research that refutes their claims, says Exxon Mobil.

“The facts are that we identified the potential risks of climate change and have taken the issue very seriously,” said Cohen.

“We embarked on decades of research in collaboration with many parties, including the Department of Energy, leading academic institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and others to advance climate science.”

ExxonMobil says its scientists continue to research and publish findings to improve understanding of climate system science as a basis for society’s response to climate change and have produced more than 50 peer-reviewed publications on topics including the global carbon cycle, detection and attribution of climate change, low carbon technologies and analysis of future scenarios for energy and climate.

ExxonMobil scientists have been selected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations’ most authoritative body on the subject, as authors of their past four major assessment reports, and have contributed to National Research Council boards and committees on climate change.

“We recognize that our past participation in broad coalitions that opposed ineffective climate policies subjects us to criticism by climate activist groups,” said Cohen. “We will continue to advocate for policies that reduce emissions while enabling economic growth.”

The Exxon Mobil release says that since 2009, the company has supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the preferred policy approach for emission reduction because it ensures a uniform and predictable cost of carbon, allows market prices to drive solutions, maximizes transparency to stakeholders, reduces administrative complexity, promotes global participation, and is easily adjusted to future developments in climate science and policy impacts.

ExxonMobil joined other companies to provide initial and ongoing funding to create and support the MIT Joint Program on Climate Science and Policy and Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project, which has engaged scores of researchers, faculty and students and has resulted in hundreds of scientific publications on climate change and low carbon technologies.

The company says it has an active research program into lower-carbon emission technologies, such as algae and cellulosic-based biofuels, carbon capture and storage and advanced engines to name a few.

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