How ExxonMobil Reacted When Environmentalists Crashed its First Annual Meeting 15 Years Ago

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The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at what happened when environmentalists attended an ExxonMobil meeting in Dallas, Texas.

ExxonMobil and other industry hardliners came together in 1998 to create an “Action Plan” to combat America’s growing fondness for fighting climate change.

This plan would provide a blueprint for undermining the climate movement over the next four years.

But, the environmentalists were well-organised. Having bought shares in ExxonMobil, they attended the corporation’s first annual meeting, held in Dallas in May 2000, and used it as a platform to attack Exxon boss Lee Raymond and the corporation’s policies.

When one activist shouted for a “long-term solution to global warming”, applause set through the room. Raymond, emblazoned, let rip.

No Convincing Evidence’

Reading from a petition apparently signed by 17,000 scientists, he railed: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that any release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate.”

Continuing in his own words, “I’m not saying you’re wrong. What I am saying is there is a substantial difference of view in the scientific community as to what exactly is going on.”

Raymond was not going to be put off by the activists. 2000 was a big year for the corporation as the US election cycle started, pitting industry insider George W Bush against environmentalist Al Gore.

Election Funding

It was a chance for the corporation to be free of the threat of the Democrats’ regulatory ambitions, and so the funding of denial organisations continued to increase.

As Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets project has documented, between 1998 and 2010, ExxonMobil spent nearly $25 million funding climate denier groups.

The move to disinformation would prove a defining issue of ExxonMobil’s strategy and influence throughout the first Bush term.

The next DeSmog UK epic history series post will take a closer look at ExxonMobil’s contribution to George W Bush’s election as President of the United States.

@brendanmontague

Photo: Pixabay via creative commons

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