Big oil quietly walks back on climate pledges as global heat records tumble
July 16, 2023
It was probably the Earth’s hottest week in history earlier this
month, following the warmest June on record, and top scientists agree
that the planet will get even hotter unless we phase out fossil fuels.
Yet leading energy companies are intent on pushing the world in the opposite
direction, expanding fossil fuel production and insisting that there is
Climate movement: right answers, wrong words
July 14, 2023
The fossil fuel industry has spent billions on winning over the public.
You may think we have all the proof we need. More of it is in front of
us right now, with heatwaves scorching through Europe, breaking records,
wreaking havoc. In Athens, they closed the Acropolis on Friday as temperatures
at the site headed towards 48C. In Lisbon, visitors expecting perfect
blue skies have been disappointed to find them streaked with grey –
not clouds, but smoke from forest fires. In Italy, there was no spring
this year: floods gave way to unbearable heat with barely a pause.
Shell boss under fire for saying cutting fossil fuel production is ‘dangerous’
July 6, 2023
Climate campaigners have condemned as “cynical” suggestions
by the boss of the energy company Shell that cutting the world’s
oil and gas production would be dangerous and irresponsible. Wael Sawan
claimed in an interview that reducing fossil fuel production, which is
considered crucial in limiting the rise in global temperatures, risked
worsening the cost of living crisis by limiting global energy supplies
and pushing up bills.
Timeline - Truth or CO2nsequences.
Major fossil fuel companies have known the truth for nearly 50 years: their
oil, gas, and coal products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms
the planet and changes our climate. This timeline highlights information,
alleged in lawsuits against fossil fuel companies, that comes from key
industry documents and other sources. It illustrates what the industry
knew, when they knew it, and what they didn’t do to prevent the
impacts that are now imposing real costs on people and communities around
Smoking Guns -
Part 2: The Dirty Dozen Documents of Big Oil’s Secret Climate Knowledge
By the late 1970s, the petroleum industry had spent about two decades collecting
information from their own scientists and outside experts and knew that
burning fossil fuels would create catastrophic climate change. In the
minds of the fossil fuel executives, this point must have been hammered
home when federal scientists published a report on carbon dioxide and
climate change in 1979. Stanford science historian Ben Franta continues
his discussion of these key documents, what they say, how they were found,
and what this means for the fossil fuel industry.
In Their Own Words: The Dirty Dozen Documents of Big Oil’s Secret
Science historian Ben Franta unpacks some of the most critical documents
exposing what the fossil fuel industry knew and when they knew it. To
explain the long history of what the fossil fuel industry knew and when
they knew it, Stanford University science historian Ben Franta has collected
a dozen of his favorite documents.
Understanding the #ExxonKnew controversy.
#ExxonKnew is an orchestrated campaign that seeks to delegitimize ExxonMobil
by misrepresenting our position on climate change and related research
to the public. For the past several years, activist organizations have
sought to bring investigations, shareholder action, legal action and protests
against ExxonMobil despite the fact that ExxonMobil is committed and actively
working to reduce the risks posed by climate change.
The smoking gun: what the fossil fuel industry knew (and when it knew it).
T. Groening (The Island Institute)
The smoking gun on climate change is, well, the smoke. Or at least carbon
pollution. But the real smoking gun, said activists from the Center for
Climate Integrity and Union of Concerned Scientists, ist hat the fossil
fuel industry knew what impacts carbon pollution would have on the climate.
And beyond casting blame, these groups are taking action against that
2017 Climate change and energy American Petroleum Institute (API) report.
America’s Oil and Natural Gas Industry
In the United States, oil and natural gas supply 66 percent of the energy
Americans use today, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects
that these fuels will continue to furnish more than 66 percent of the
energy we use through 2040 and beyond.
2007 Smoke, mirrors & hot air. How ExxonMobil uses big tobacco’s
tactics to manufacture uncertainty on climate science.
S. Schulman (Union of Concerned Scientists)
In an effort to deceive the public about the reality of global warming,
ExxonMobil has underwritten the most sophisticated and most successful
disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry misled the public about
the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease.
As this report documents, the two disinformation campaigns are strikingly
similar. ExxonMobil has drawn upon the tactics and even some of the organizations
and actors involved in the callous disinformation campaign the tobacco
industry waged for 40 years.
2002 Letter from Michael McCracken, retiring senior scientist from the
office of the us global change research program, to Exxon CEO Lee Raymond.
A response letter from Michael MacCracken to the Chairman and Chief Executive
of ExxonMobile Cop. Accusing them of turning their back on the future.”
2001 Memo from Ken Brill to Under Secretary Paulua Dobriansky regarding
her meeting with members of the Global Climate Coalition, US Department
of State memo and talking points memo.
K. Brill (U.S. Dept of State)
2000 Letter from Lloyd Keigwin, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution, to Peter Altman, National Campaign Coordinator for ExxonMobil.
In a letter from Lloyd Keigwin, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution to the National Campaign Coordinator of ExxonMobile accusing
ExxonMobil of misleading in its use of the Sargasso Sea data.
1998 Global science communications action plan, draft by the American Petroleum
Joe Walker (Global Climate Science)
Here is a copy of The Global Science Action Plan from the American Petroleum
Fall 1996 “Global warming who’s right facts about a debate
that’s turned up more questions than answers,” publication
from Exxon corporation.
L. Raymond, Chairman, Exxon Corporation
According to Lee Raymond, Chairman, Exxon Corporation “Achieving
economic growth remains one of the world’s critical needs., and
with good reason. When economies grow, their energy consumption rises.
Today, however, a multination effort, under the auspices of the United
Nations, is under way to cut the use of fossil fuels, based on the unproven
theory that they affect the earth’s climate.”
Oct. 1995 “Is climate change occurring already” Internal Report
by shell international B.V. Scientist Peter Langcake.
P. Langcake, Shell International The Hague
According to this Shell internal report, “the best evidence to-date
suggests that global mean temperature changes over the last century are
unlikely to be entirely due to natural causes and that a pattern of climate
response to human activities is identifiable in observed climate records.”
Climate change - your passport to the facts,” Global Climate Coalition
N. Sundt, Climate Change Science Expert (Global Climate Coalition)
This booklet was “intended to introduce readers to essential facts
about climate change.” The publication discredited climate change
science and its correlation to human activities, citing work by climate
deniers Fred Singer and Richard Lindzen. It also downplayed the potential
consequences of increasing carbon emissions and dismissed the need for
policy action to address the issues, arguing that, “no evidence
exists to compel nations to make additional commitments to emissions reductions
for the post-2000 period.”
Dec. 1994 “The enhanced greenhouse effect a review of the scientific
aspects,” report by royal dutch shell environmental advisor Peter
P. Langcake, Shell International Petroleum The Hague
“Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing substantially,
due to human activities.” “It is thus not possible to dismiss
the global warming hypothesis as scientifically unsound; on the other
hand any policy measure should take into account explicitly the weaknesses
in the scientific case.”
April 1994 “Issues and options potential global climate change,”
Global Climate Coalition (GCC) report.
By the Global Climate Coalition
Over the past century atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially
carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and chlorofluorocarbons, have
increased. The international debate concerns the role of human activities
in these increases and the risk that continued human-related emissions
will lead to global warming and other climate changes.
December 1989 “Greenhouse effect shell anticipates a sea change,”
New York Times.
New York Times
Whether global warming will raise the level of the world’s oceans
is still being debated but engineers who build natural-gas production
platforms as Shell Oil do not want to take chances. In what is considered
the first major project that takes account of the changed the greenhouse
effect is expected to bring, the engineers are designing a huge platform
that anticipates rising water in the North Sea.
Shell Group Planning Scenarios 1989-2010.
Shell Group Planning
Portions of an internal Shell document highlighting Shell’s hidden
legacy of climate change accountability.
1988 Summer 1988 public awareness of the greenhouse effect and efforts
to combat it ramp up.
Chemical Manufacturers Association Side-by-Side analysis of Legislation
Related to the Remediation of the Greenhouse Effect (100th Congress)
1988 May 1988 “The greenhouse effect,” report by the shell
greenhouse effect working group.
Shell International Petroleum The Hague
Man-made carbon dioxide, released into and accumulated in the atmosphere,
is believed to warm the earth through the so-called greenhouse effect.
The gas acts like the transparent walls of a greenhouse and traps heat
in the atmosphere that would normally be radiated back into space. Mainly
due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the atmospheric CO2 concentration
has increased some 15% in the present century to a level of about 340
ppm. If this trend continues, the concentration will be doubled by the
third quarter of the next century. There is reasonable scientific agreement
that increased levels of greenhouse gases would cause a global warming.
The likely time scale of possible change does not necessitate immediate
1988 Aug. 31, Vice president George H.W. Bush campaign speech in Michigan. May 1988
New York Times
The world has started to take a very seriously the established threat to
the life-protecting ozone layer from industrial chemicals. Many countries
re now eager for President Bush to take the lead on another threat to
the global climate the feared warming of the earth’s atmosphere
by pollutant gases. But despite Mr. Bush’s ringing campaign pledge
to do just taht, his administration flounders in confusion and timidity.
Aug. 3, 1988 “The greenhouse effect,” draft written by Joseph
M. Carlson, an Exxon public affairs manager.
There is scientific agreement on two points: Atmospheric CO2 is increasing
and could double in 100 years. And fossil fuels contribute about five
billion tons/year of CO2.
Oct. 1982 “Inventing the future energy and the co2 ‘greenhouse’
effect,” e. E. David jr. Remarks at the Fourth Annual Ewing Symposium,
Dr. E. David, Jr. President, Exxon Research and Engineering
“While we do not know with certainty how things will turn out, our
own actions can play a powerful role in shaping the future.”
April 1, 1982 “Co2 ‘greenhouse’ effect,” internally
distributed summary by Exxon manager M.B. Glaser of a technical review
prepared by the Exxon research and engineering company.
M.B. Glaser, Exxon Research
Distribution of the briefing material regarding the CO2 Greenhouse effect
to Exxon staff.
Aug. 18, 1981 Memo from Roger Cohen, director of Exxon’s theoretical
and mathematical science laboratory, to scientist Werner Glass.
“…I can agree with the statement that our best guess is that
observable effects in the year 2030 are likely to be "well short
of catastrophic", it is distinctly possible that the CPD scenario
will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least
for a substantial fraction of the earth's population).
Feb. 29, 1980 Meeting minutes from the American petroleum institute’s
(API’s) CO2 and climate task force presentation by dr. J. Laurman.
J. J. Nelson, American Petroleum Institute
“The difficulties of dealing with the pragmatic questions related
to the CO2/fossil fuel problem all relate to certain general features,
A) high impact cost, B) large uncertainty, and being C) far distant and
Aug. 6, 1980 “Review of environmental protection activities for 1978-1979,”
Imperial Oil Report.
A copy of the Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979
of Imperial Oil Limited.
Oct. 16, 1979 “Controlling the co2 concentration in the atmosphere,”
study by Exxon employee Steve Knisely.
W.L Ferall, Exxon Engineering Petroleum Department
Memorandum presenting the results of a study on the potential impact of
fossil fuel combustion on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
Sept. 17, 1978 Congress passes national climate policy act.
National Climate Program Act
Copy of the ‘National Climate Program Act.
June 6, 1978 Presentation shared with Exxon management committee from Exxon
research and engineering science advisor, James Black.
J. F. Black, Exxon Research and Engineering
A copy of the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ as presented to the Exxon
Corporation Management Committee.
Dec. 7, 1978 Co2 research proposal from Exxon research and engineering’s
environmental area manager, Henry Shaw.
H. Shaw, Exxon Research and Engineering Company
Inner Company letter to General Administration (Exxon) highlighting new
programs to clarify mechanisms associated with storage of carbon dioxide
that would help in predicting the likelihood of a greenhouse effect.
Feb. 1968 “Sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous atmospheric pollutants,”
report prepared by Stanford Research Institute scientists Eelmer Robinson
and R.C. Robbins for the American Petroleum Institute.
E. Robinson, R.C. Robbins (Stanford Research Institute)
“If the earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number
of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic
ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans and an increase in
photosynthesis. Significant temperature changes are almost certain to
occur by the year 2000 and these could bing about climatic changes.”
Restoring the quality of our environment report of the environmental pollution
panel president’s science advisory committee.
From the Environmental Pollution Panels President’s Science Advisory
Committee, The White House.
Meeting the challenges of 1966 speech by Frank Ikard president of the American
Petroleum Institute at the trade association’s 45th annual meeting.
American Petroleum Institute
Proceedings of the American Petroleum Institute. Annual Minutes, Divisional Reports,
Sources of air pollution transportation presentation at the National Conference
on Air Pollution by Charles Jones Shell Executive Member of the American
Petroleum Institute’s Smoke & Fumes Committee.
C. A. Jones, Executive Secretary, American Petroleum Institute
“Since the major source of pollution from transportation is the exhaust
of gasoline-powered automobile, my remarks di will be confined to a study
of this problem.” “the petroleum industry supplies the fuel
used by the automobile, and thus has a sincere interest in the solution
to the problem of pollution from automobile exhaust.”
Extreme weather killed 195,000 in Europe since 1980
Extreme weather conditions in Europe have killed almost 195,000 people
and caused economic losses of more than 560 billion euros since 1980,
the European Environment Agency said Wednesday. "Nearly 195,000 fatalities
have been caused by floods, storms, heat- and coldwaves, forest fires
and landslides" between 1980 and 2021, the EAA said in its report.
Exxon predicted global warming with remarkable accuracy years ago, study shows.
C. Clifford (CNBC)
Three academics from Harvard and the University of Potsdam in Germany published
a study in the journal Science on providing evidence that Exxon Mobil,
the oil and gas behemoth with a current market capitalization of $466
billion, predicted global warming with incredible accuracy in a series
of internal reports and messages starting in the 1970s. “Specifically,
what’s new here is that we put a number on – and paint a picture
of – what Exxon knew and when,” said study co-author Geoffrey
Supran, who worked as a research associate at Harvard when he did this work.
Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections.
G. Supran (Science.org)
In 2017, Exxon’s internal documents, as well as peer-reviewed studies
published by Exxon and ExxonMobil Corp scientists, over whelmingly acknowledged
that climate change is real and human-caused. By contrast, the majority
of Mobil and ExxonMobil Corp’s public communications promoted doubt
on the matter.
Fossil Fuel Companies Make Billions in Profit as We Suffer Billions in
Losses - Union of Concerned Scientists.
S. Sadai (Union of Concerned Scientists)
The world’s biggest fossil fuel companies recently released their
2022 earnings reports, revealing record-breaking profits last year; just
five companies–ExxonMobil, Shell, BP,Chevron, and Total Energies–reported
a total of nearly $200 billion in profits. At the same time, the world
is incurring record losses due to extreme weather events.
Democratic lawmakers accuse big oil companies of ‘greenwashing’.
C. Clifford (CNBC)
Democratic representatives Carolyn B. Maloney and Ro Khanna letter they
sent on Friday (Dec. 9) to the rest of the House Committee on Oversight
and Reform with the latest findings from their investigation into the
fossil fuel industry’s response to climate change. The committee
began its investigation into what it calls a “climate disinformation”
campaign in September 2021.
There Are 100 Companies Responsible for Climate Change, Activist Says.
Basit Mahood (Newsweek)
Around 100 companies are responsible for climate change and we must act
to stop them now in our last chance to save the planet, a climate change
activist has warned. The warning comes as global environmental movement
Extinction Rebellion (XR) restarted large-scale protests in the U.K.,
saying that it will target the Houses of Parliament as well as other "key
institutions of power" in a bid to raise awareness of the climate
Exxon found not guilty in New York climate-change securities fraud trial,
ending 4-year saga.
P. Stevens (CNBC)
When he took the stand on Oct. 30, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said
that the company tried to understand the impact of climate change and
tried to accurately communicate this impact to shareholders. Exxon said
the case was misleading and politically motivated and the result of a
coordinated effort by anti-fossil fuel groups.
Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global
Warming Decades Ago.
N. Banerjee, L. Song, D. Hasemyer (Inside Climate News)
At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company
scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen.
Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered
a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil
fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.
Public Campaign Against Exxon Has Roots in a 2012 Meeting.
J. Schwartz (New York Times)
Highlights of a report that helps explain why those taking on Exxon Mobil
and other fossil fuel companies might find the courts a promising battleground.
York Loses Climate Change Fraud Case Against Exxon Mobil.
J. Schwartz (New York Times)
A New York state judge on Tuesday handed Exxon Mobil a victory in the civil
case brought by the state’s attorney general that argued the company
had engaged in fraud through its statements about how it accounted for
the costs of climate change regulation. After some four years of investigation
and millions of pages of documents produced by the company, the judge
said, attorney general Letitia James and her staff “failed to establish
by a preponderance of the evidence” that Exxon violated the Martin
Act, New York’s powerful legal tool against shareholder fraud, in
the closely watched case.
Carbon Emissions Linked To Global Warming In Simple Linear Relationship
Scientists have found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions
and global warming. Researchers used a combination of global climate models
and historical climate data to show that there is a simple linear relationship
between total cumulative emissions and global temperature change.