The members of the board of Big Oil are facing a hot spot due to the “fraud” of the climate Climate crisis news


In 1977, an inside note by Exxon, the US oil giant, made it clear that the carbon emissions from its product were causing climate change. But not only that – the time for action was running out.

“CO2 emissions are the most likely source of unintentional climate change,” the transcript said. “A window of 5-10 years to get the information you need.”

But in the following years, instead of abandoning fossil fuels to prevent the dangers outlined in his own study, Exxon and other oil corporations chose a different path. The industry is organizing a systematic disinformation campaign to deceive the public, obstruct political action and protect profits.

“Emphasize the uncertainty of scientific conclusions about the potential enhanced greenhouse effect,” said an Exxon article in 1988, one of many published in America’s Mised report on the fossil fuel industry.

“Focus on efforts to adapt to the environment,” another internal note said next year. “Victory will be achieved when the average citizen” understands “the uncertainty in climate science,” added another in 1998.

Two years later, Exxon – formed at the time as ExxonMobil after a multibillion-dollar merger – provided advertising in The New York Times as part of a media blitz to support climate change. Under the heading Unsettled Science, scientists say they are facing “fundamental gaps in knowledge”, despite the prevailing and growing consensus that fossil fuels are warming the planet.

The greatest threat to humanity

Against the backdrop of decades of fraud and denial, those familiar with the oil industry will appear before the US Congress as some of the world’s most powerful energy companies face retribution for their role in creating – and trying to cover up – the climate crisis .

BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell board members will be questioned under oath by a House committee on Tuesday. The aim is to highlight the industry’s contribution to humanity’s worst existential threat – and how it is spreading misinformation at the same time to question the catastrophic impact of burning its products.

Although the hearings cannot provoke prosecution, experts see them as a crucial tool for changing public opinion. And this can encourage consumers to avoid carbon fuels and encourage investors to capitalize on major polluters, while enabling environmental activists and lawyers to take on strong industrial interests.

“This could be a turning point,” said Richard J. Rodgers, CEO of Climate Counsel, a non-profit law firm specializing in environmental destruction and crimes against humanity. “This whole story is about the greed of a small number of men who were willing to threaten the stability of their own and our own civilization in order to become very rich.

Industrial chimneys give off smoke in the airCurrent commitments to reduce global emissions put the world on the path to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures by 2.4C by the end of this century [File: AP]

The stakes cannot be higher. As a result of the disappointing UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26), where key new targets were blocked by oil and coal-producing countries, current commitments to reduce emissions have put the world on the path to a catastrophic 2.4C global warming. the end of this century.

This devastating rise will lead to a significant rise in sea level from melting ice sheets, devastating coastal cities and island nations. Ecosystems will collapse as storms, droughts, floods and forest fires increase in number and intensity, fueling famine, battles and the displacement of millions as equatorial regions become uninhabitable and unprecedented heat waves rip through northern latitudes.

And this is if the current promises are even fulfilled. Each higher degree increases the level of cataclysm. “We need an avalanche of action,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Casey Norton told Al Jazeera that the company had long acknowledged that climate change was real and posed serious risks.

“In addition to our significant investment in next-generation technologies, ExxonMobil is also committed to responsible climate policies. “Our public statements on climate change are and have been true, based on facts, transparent and consistent with the views of the wider scientific community at the time,” Norton said.

“ExxonMobil has contributed to the development of climate science for decades and made its work publicly available. And with the development of the scientific community’s understanding of climate change, ExxonMobil is responding accordingly.Interactive_ClimateChangeMay42021-01

“Igniting the future”

This week’s high-profile hearings in Washington, DC, will focus on board members who have been selected to drive change in oil companies. This is the second part of an ongoing investigation by the House of Representatives’ oversight and reform committee, the first to see leaders of the four major oil and gas corporations grilled by lawmakers last October.

“Some of us actually have to live in the future that you all have for us,” Democrat spokeswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told them.

A congressional panel has issued subpoenas for the company’s documents to reveal what oil companies knew about the damage caused by fossil fuels – and how they did not act.

The next action is scheduled amid an unprecedented wave of lawsuits in the United States, as communities across the country are suing oil companies not only for causing but also for exacerbating environmental destruction by suppressing warnings from their own scientists.

In a bold attempt to hold the industry accountable, cities and states threatened by extreme weather and sea level rise are demanding that these powerful conglomerates reconsider their destructive operations and pay compensation to cover the costs of building defense or repairing damage. .

However, as much of the environmental legislation is underdeveloped and rarely punishable, the applicants had to be creative.

From Hawaii to California to Rhode Island, some have accused oil companies of creating “public inconveniences.” The use of this legal term has proved successful elsewhere, such as lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that fueled the opioid epidemic in the United States with powerful prescription painkillers.

Others have filed a fraud case. Overwhelmed by high temperatures and devastating floods, the Minnesota Attorney General accused ExxonMobil and others of violating state law through false advertising and fraudulent commercial practices as part of a campaign to deny climate change.

The legacy of these lawsuits may depend less on final decisions and more on harmful information that emerges in the process.

“If the plaintiffs succeed in exposing the secrets and behavior of oil companies to the public eye, they will potentially create a surge of negative publicity that could permanently weaken these companies, similar to what happened to the tobacco industry,” said Daniel Farber. , Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

While the oil giants enjoy enormous resources to finance these lawsuits, the wave of lawsuits poses a serious threat to the industry.

“Unless the oil companies are able to dismiss these cases quickly, they will have the sword of Damocles hanging over them for years,” Farber added. “[They] he can’t afford to lose. “

Ignoring their own scientists

There is growing evidence that scientists working for the fossil fuel industry have known about the effects of CO2 warming since the 1950s. For example, a Shell CEO named Charles Jones wrote a document in 1958 showing that the industry was already concerned about carbon emissions in car exhausts amid concerns that “the oil industry will continue to be blamed. for most air pollution. “

In 1979, an Exxon study described the “dramatic effects on the environment” caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Another study over the next decade accurately predicts the trajectory of rising temperatures along with rising levels of atmospheric CO2 before this report is also buried.

Despite these clear warnings year after year, oil executives chose to ignore their own scientists instead of twisting a dangerous counter-story. The insincere trick of “washing the green” also helped them create a false aura of authenticity in the environment, which distracts attention from the dirty reality of burning and drilling for oil.

Whether it’s picking cherries or relying on fake experts, the techniques used in the interests of fossil fuels have come straight from the tobacco industry’s anti-cigarette control textbook, mimicking similar tactics by the asbestos and lead industries.

Billions of dollars have been poured into political lobbying, whether to break stricter legislation or to fund aggressive frontline organizations. Last July, horrific footage surfaced from a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist who said the energy giant had fought climate science through “shadow groups” and targeted senators to weaken President Joe Biden’s climate program. to maximize shareholder profits.

“There’s nothing illegal about that,” said Keith McCoy, the lobbyist. “We were looking for our investments.”

“Wrong academic reports”

Back on Capitol Hill, those scheduled to appear at Tuesday’s hearing include two figures on ExxonMobil’s board: Alexander Carsner, a renewable energy supporter and strategist at the parent company of Google Alphabet Inc., who won a seat in the Texas raw colossus for hedge fund activist; and Susan Avery, an atmospheric scientist and former president of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts.

Other board members who are required to testify include Jane Hall Loot of Shell, a UN special envoy; Melody Meyer of BP, a veteran of the oil industry; and Enrique Hernandez of Chevron, a lawyer and CEO who also runs a multinational security company.

An Exxon spokesman, Norton, said the company had provided more than 200,000 pages of documents, “including on-board materials and internal communications.”

ExxonMobil claims to be a victim of a “coordinated campaign supported by activist groups” and accuses their supporters of publishing “incorrect academic reports” and coordinating with government officials to launch investigations and litigation, creating the false impression that ExxonMobil is misrepresented its company researching and disclosing information from investors on climate change to the public. “

BP, Chevron and Shell did not respond to requests for comment.

Whatever evidence is given this week, one fact is certain – the cover-up of the climate crisis by Big Oil has brought the Earth to the brink.

“With their strength and resources, these companies could change the trajectory of our planet’s health,” Rodgers said. “They just had to be honest.”





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