ExxonMobil gave $1.5 million to climate deniers and industry front groups known for working to create doubt about global warming, attacking the integrity of climate scientists, and protecting the status quo for polluters, according to a front-page story in the Times of London today.
Contrary to its stated commitment to stop funding climate denier groups, the Exxon funding spigot remained as open as the BP gusher, continuing to pollute the media landscape with oil-soaked misinformation designed to cripple international action on climate change.
Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets project has documented the nearly $25 million spent by ExxonMobil since 1998 to fund climate denier groups.
Exxon-funded groups used their latest infusion of oil money to create a media frenzy over the “Climategate” non-scandal and other efforts to derail progress towards an international agreement to fight climate change at the COP-15 talks in Copenhagen last winter.
As noted by the Times article [subscription required]:
“Several [of the Exxon-funded groups] made outspoken attacks on climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and argued their leaked e-mails showed that the dangers of global warming had been grossly exaggerated.
The scientists were exonerated this month by an independent inquiry but groups funded by Exxon have continued to lambast them. The Media Research Centre, which received $50,000 last year from Exxon, called the inquiry a “whitewash” and condemned “climate alarmists”.
Some of Exxon’s largest donations were to groups that lobbied against a global deal on emissions being reached at the climate summit last December in Copenhagen.
Exxon could see the value of its oil and gas investments fall sharply if governments adopt aggressive plans to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.”
The Times correctly notes that Exxon had pledged in 2007 to stop funding climate denier groups:
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, [Exxon] stated: “In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Exxon also gave reassurances last year that it had no funding links with the sceptics’ biggest annual conference, the International Conference on Climate Change. But a list published by Exxon this month of its “2009 worldwide contributions and investments” revealed that it had given four cosponsors of the New York event a total of $275,000. It also gave $1 million to 20 other sceptic groups.
The four groups funded by Exxon — the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Media Research Center, the Pacific Research Institute and the Heritage Foundation — co-sponsored the annual Heartland Institute denial-a-palooza conference last year.
When questioned by the Times about the company’s previous decision to stop funding denier groups, Exxon chose to recycle its pledge yet again, announcing that it would stop supporting three of the four groups from now on:
After being contacted by The Times, Exxon announced that it would no longer fund the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Media Research Centre or the Pacific Research Institute. Exxon did not comment on whether it would continue to fund the other 21 sceptic groups to which it gave money last year.
It said in a statement: “We fund a wide range of groups. Every year, we do an evaluation and make funding decisions.
If a group’s position on climate change becomes distracting or diverts attention away from this important discussion, we evaluate whether we will continue funding.” Exxon said it selected groups because of their work “on a variety of issues, for example Heritage Foundation to further discussion on tax and trade issues”.
So is this Exxon’s newest trick to spin its vast misinformation campaign? Now it will only provide funding for groups who work on a variety of issues, not those whose sole focus is endangering humanity further by delaying action to address climate change?
What excuse will ExxonMobil think of next year?