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
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
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."