The Heat Is Online

After Cuts, Exxon Still Funds 28 "Climate Denial" Groups

Exxon finally admits that its funding of climate sceptic think tanks is detrimental to action on climate change

Greenpeace, May 26, 2008

Tuesday 27 May 2008 -- For the very first time,  ExxonMobil has admitted that the climate denial campaign it has funded to the tune of $23 million over the last ten years has hindered climate action. 

In its "Corporate Citizenship Report" released last week, Exxon said: 

"In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy interest groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner." (emphasis added)


Exxon confirmed to Reuters that this year (2008) it has cut funding to nine organizations including some major players in climate denial over the past decade. These moves come after years of Greenpeace highlighting the links between the denial industry and the company, specifically through its website, http://www.exxonsecrets.org , launched in 2004. 

But is cutting nine groups getting the job done?

Exxon's 2007 Exxon Worldwide Giving Report , released Friday, shows that last year 37 global warming denial groups were granted a total of nearly $2 million dollars by ExxonMobil Foundation and corporate funds. Even cutting funding to nine of the 2007 fundees leaves the company continuing to fund at least 28 more organizations engaged in climate denial.

"Exxon is clearly struggling internally in the fight to rid itself of the anti-climate policies of former chair and CEO Lee Raymond, but the company still has some way to go," said Kert Davies, of Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets project and Research Director at Greenpeace USA.

"The organizations eliminated in this latest round of cuts could be called engine room of the climate sceptic industry, but if Rex Tillerson is serious about his company shaking off this shameful legacy, he needs to make a wider sweep," said Davies .

According to Reuters, Exxon has dropped the funding of nine organizations, including five named in article: the Frontiers of Freedom, the Capital Research Center, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Institute for Energy Research.  This confirms what Greenpeace has heard from other sources.

Funding to these five groups totaled $400,000 of nearly $2 Million handed out by Exxon in 2007, the latest year for which full figures have been published.  However, still funded in 2007 were over two dozen other organizations who question the science of global warming or attack policies to solve the crisis.

The 2007 ExxonMobil Worldwide Giving Report, published late last week, includes the list of groups it funded last year.  Key findings are:

·         The company only dropped a few of the organizations in 2007 from those funded in 2006 -- with the main one being the Heartland Institute. 

·         However, it picked up some new ones and reinstated some groups it had previously funded so the numbers remained about the same as 2006.

·         Exxon's contributions to the climate denial industry amounted to around $1.98 million (down from $2.1 million in 2006).

Exxon's 1998-2007 total contributions to climate sceptic groups:  around $23 million.

Background:

In 2006, ExxonMobil was funding some 41 groups who were spreading global warming denial. It had dropped the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which received a barrage of bad publicity and caused the UK's Royal Society and Senators  John D. Rockefeller and Snowe to criticise the company.

1998 Communications memo

The groups dropped by Exxon in 2008 now completes the de-funding of the list of groups named in a leaked 1998 memo drawn up by oil companies and think tanks, designed to foster climate skepticism and public questioning of climate science. The memo stated:

-- Victory will be achieved when average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom"

          ... "those promoting the Kyoto Treaty on the basis of extant science appear out of touch with reality."