The Heat Is Online

Royal Society Forces Exxon To Review Funding

Exxon Reviews Funding In Climate-Change Issue

 

Oil Firm Had Been Giving To Group That Challenged

Science of Global Warming

 

The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 21, 2006

 

Exxon Mobil Corp., which has sparked criticism for funding groups

that challenge the scientific validity of concerns about global

warming, is reviewing whether it will continue to fund some of those

groups.

 

Exxon spokesman Mark Boudreaux said yesterday the company's decisionsabout which outside groups to fund for the rest of 2006 and for 2007 "are under review." The Competitive Enterprise Institute, one past recipient of Exxon funding that has been vocal in questioning climate science, hasn't received any money from Exxon in 2006, he said.

 

Also yesterday, California filed a lawsuit against six auto makers

alleging their vehicles have contributed to global warming, hurt the

state's environment and cost it millions of dollars to address the

effects. The suit would hold them liable for damages caused by

warming.

 

Exxon's statement follows a letter released by the Royal Society,

Britain's independent scientific society. The letter said that in a

July meeting between Royal Society and Exxon officials, society

officials criticized Exxon's funding of "organizations that have been

misinforming the public about the science of climate change" and

Exxon officials responded that the company "would not be providing

any further funding to these organizations." The letter was reported

yesterday in the Guardian newspaper.

 

The letter said Exxon has been "misleading" in characterizing the

extent of doubts about climate science. Exxon said yesterday the

society "inaccurately and unfairly" described its position.

 

Exxon, one of the tallest lightning rods in the global-warming

debate, has opposed the Kyoto Protocol, the global-warming treaty,

and has stressed remaining uncertainties in climate science. In a

report in February, Exxon said atmospheric concentrations of carbon

dioxide have increased, that the Earth is getting warmer and that

fossil-fuel emissions are a factor in the increased concentrations.

But how significantly fossil fuels are contributing to global warming

remains uncertain, it said.

 

One group mentioned during the meeting was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said Royal Society spokesman Bob Ward, who participated in the meeting. In May, the institute ran television ads that argued that carbon dioxide, widely seen as the main global-warming gas, is helpful.

 

In 2005, Exxon and its philanthropic foundation gave the institute

$270,000, Exxon says. That was out of a total of $6.8 million that

Exxon says it and its foundation gave in 2005 to tax-exempt nonprofit groups engaged in "public information and public policy research."

 

Myron Ebell, the institute's director of energy-and-global-warming

policy, declined to discuss whether Exxon had decided to stop funding the group.

 

Mr. Boudreaux said Exxon hasn't made any final decisions on funding

of such groups for this year or next year. The review is part of a

regular annual assessment of funding for outside groups, he said.

 

California filed suit in U.S. District Court against General Motors

Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. arms of DaimlerChrysler AG, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Corp. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said "the federal government and auto makers have refused to act" to address automotive emissions.

 

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said it hadn't had time to

review the lawsuit. But it said: "Using nuisance suits to address

global warming would involve the courts in deciding political

questions beyond their jurisdiction. This opens the door to lawsuits

targeting any activity that uses fossil fuel for energy."