EXXONMOBIL‘S $33 MILLION CAMPAIGN TO SOW DOUBT AND DENIAL ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING
Media reports by The Guardian in July 2015, Inside Climate News’ series, and the Los Angeles Times’ partnership investigation with Columbia Graduate School of Journalism graduates led by Steve Coll (author of Private Empire) document what #ExxonKnew about the impact of fossil fuel pollution on climate and when the company knew it.
DeSmogBlog’s own investigation uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.
Despite its advanced knowledge of the climate disruption fueled in large part by oil, gas and coal pollution, ExxonMobil turned its back on crafting responsible solutions and instead funded a sophisticated campaign to sow doubt and delay action to curb carbon emissions — honing the tobacco industry’s playbook with even more advanced public relations, advertising and lobbying muscle.
As Bill McKibben summed it up best,
“ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.”
But nobody has spent more time and energy researching and exposing Exxon’s climate denial campaign than Kert Davies, the creator of ExxonSecrets while he served as research director of Greenpeace USA. Davies, who now runs the Climate Investigations Center and continues to expose climate denial and attacks on solutions to global warming, worked with many researchers over the years (including DeSmog’s Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia) to assemble a clear record of Exxon’s extensive funding of organizations and think tanks responsible for spreading doubt and denial about climate science.
Since the late 1990s, Greenpeace researchers have collected information on organizations and individuals blocking solutions to climate change and vending misinformation. In 2004, Greenpeace launched ExxonSecrets.org, which houses a relational database of Exxon funding to these people, think tanks and front groups. The database allows researchers, policy makers and advocates to see relationships and funding linkages.
In total, the ExxonSecrets database has found over $33M going to over 60 different organizations since 1998, the year after the Kyoto Protocol was launched. The data is drawn from Exxon’s published “Giving” reports and IRS Form 990s for ExxonMobil Foundation.
We know this $33M figure is an underestimate of the total spending by Exxon to fund opposition work on climate policy. For example, the Chamber of Commerce appears for the first time on Exxon’s Worldwide Giving report in 2014 at $1 Million. We assume this is not the first (or the last) contribution Exxon has made to the US Chamber of Commerce.
On this page, you’ll find the total amount of funding from ExxonMobil and its foundations to dozens of organizations that worked to spread climate denial. Hyperlinks will take you to further detail about each organization’s funding specifics and activities.
Recommended Reading on Exxon’s Funding of Climate Deniers
“Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years,” by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 8, 2015.
“Exxon: The Road Not Taken” series by Inside Climate News. See in particular “Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty,” by David Hasemyer and John H. Cushman Jr., Inside Climate News, October 22, 2015.
“What Exxon Knew About the Earth’s Melting Arctic,” by Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch and Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2015.
“Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid-1980s—and Denied It,” by Bill McKibben, The Nation, October 20, 2015.
“Exxon’s climate lie: ‘No corporation has ever done anything this big or bad,’” by Bill McKibben, The Guardian, October 14, 2015.
“ExxonMobil Targets Journalists and Activists After Climate Change Investigation,” by Melissa Cronin, Vice, October 24, 2015.
“Exxon Knew about Climate Change Almost 40 Years Ago,” by Shannon Hall, Scientific American, October 26, 2015.
“ExxonMobil pioneered climate-change research since the 1970s, and now it’s attacking media reporting on that,” by Steve LeVine, Quartz, October 26, 2015.
“Should Exxon Be Prosecuted for Suppressing Climate Science?” by Joseph Davis, Climate Science and Policy Watch, October 27, 2015.
“There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s,” by Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia, DeSmogBlog, April 26, 2016.