MEPs to scrutinise ExxonMobil’s alleged role in climate change misinformation

exxonmobil’s huge groningen gas field in the netherlands
ExxonMobil’s huge Groningen gas field in the Netherlands. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

Campaigners welcome move over claims firm knew of global warming dangers for decades

— ExxonMobil’s alleged role in spreading misinformation about climate change will be scrutinised by the European Union for the first time, in a move welcomed by campaigners.

The world’s biggest international oil company has been investigated in the US over allegations that it knew about the dangers of global warming for decades but deceived the public over the risks, a charge the firm has rejected.

EU politicians will now turn their attention to the role the company has played in Europe, where it has a sizeable presence from the huge Groningen gas field in the Netherlands to oil and gas fields in the North Sea.

MEPs on the environment, public health and food safety committee will quiz a series of speakers on misinformation campaigns on climate change, which could include representatives of the company.

The hearing on 21 March, jointly held by the petitions committee, comes after a petition by fossil fuel campaigners calling for a closer look at the information the company “wants to withhold from us now”.

“ExxonMobil has misled the public on climate change for over 40 years. Now it’s time to correct the record and hold them accountable,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Europe, which organised the petition.

She called on the the new US Congress to follow the European parliament’s lead.

“The weak outcome of the climate negotiations in Poland show that we can’t wait – leaders everywhere must take climate denial and climate action seriously,” she said, in reference to the UN climate talks which concluded on Saturday.

The group would like to see lobbyists for the company barred from Brussels because of the firm’s alleged past behaviour.

Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, agreed that lobbying of EU institutions by companies that had been linked to climate denial should not be permitted.

She said: “Exxon has a shameful history of funding climate change denial – paying for fake science and dangerous lies that have prevented us from taking timely action on climate change and forcing the world into the current climate crisis.”

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: “We unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research contained in media reports that are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research. We understand that climate risks are real.”

In recent years the company has softened its stance on climate change, urging the US to stay in the Paris climate agreement and agreeing to join an industry alliance on climate change.

The company has recently been targeted by shareholders calling on it to set carbon targets at ExxonMobil’s AGM next year.


by Adam Vaughan | The Guardian