From the archive, originally posted by: [ mmm ]
Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial
Read the letter in full here (pdf)
David Adam, environment correspondent
Wednesday September 20, 2006
Britain’s leading scientists have challenged the US oil company
ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the
scientific consensus on climate change.
In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain’s premier
scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the
company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have
“misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of
The scientists also strongly criticise the company’s public statements
on global warming, which they describe as “inaccurate and misleading”.
In a letter earlier this month to Esso, the UK arm of ExxonMobil, the
Royal Society cites its own survey which found that ExxonMobil last
year distributed $2.9m to 39 groups that the society says misrepresent
the science of climate change.
These include the International Policy Network, a thinktank with its
HQ in London, and the George C Marshall Institute, which is based in
Washington DC. In 2004, the institute jointly published a report with
the UK group the Scientific Alliance which claimed that global
temperature rises were not related to rising carbon dioxide levels in
“There is not a robust scientific basis for drawing definitive and
objective conclusions about the effect of human influence on future
climate,” it said.
In the letter, Bob Ward of the Royal Society writes: “At our meeting
in July … you indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any
further funding to these organisations. I would be grateful if you
could let me know when ExxonMobil plans to carry out this pledge.”
The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, adds:
“I would be grateful if you could let me know which organisations in
the UK and other European countries have been receiving funding so
that I can work out which of these have been similarly providing
inaccurate and misleading information to the public.”
This is the first time the society has written to a company to
challenge its activities. The move reflects mounting concern about the
activities of lobby groups that try to undermine the overwhelming
scientific evidence that emissions are linked to climate change.
The groups, such as the US Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI),
whose senior figures have described global warming as a myth, are
expected to launch a renewed campaign ahead of a major new climate
change report. The CEI responded to the recent release of Al Gore’s
climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, with adverts that welcomed
increased carbon dioxide pollution.
The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), due to be published in February, is expected to say
that climate change could drive the Earth’s temperatures higher than
Mr Ward said: “It is now more crucial than ever that we have a debate
which is properly informed by the science. For people to be still
producing information that misleads people about climate change is
unhelpful. The next IPCC report should give people the final push that
they need to take action and we can’t have people trying to undermine
The Royal Society letter also takes issue with ExxonMobil’s own
presentation of climate science. It strongly criticises the company’s
“corporate citizenship reports”, which claim that “gaps in the
scientific basis” make it very difficult to blame climate change on
human activity. The letter says: “These statements are not consistent
with the scientific literature. It is very difficult to reconcile the
misrepresentations of climate change science in these documents with
ExxonMobil’s claim to be an industry leader.”
Environmentalists regard ExxonMobil as one of the least progressive
oil companies because, unlike competitors such as BP and Shell, it has
not invested heavily in alternative energy sources.
ExxonMobil said: “We can confirm that recently we received a letter
from the Royal Society on the topic of climate change. Amongst other
topics our Tomorrow’s Energy and Corporate Citizenship reports explain
our views openly and honestly on climate change. We would refute any
suggestion that our reports are inaccurate or misleading.” A spokesman
added that ExxonMobil stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise
Institute this year.
Recent research has made scientists more confident that recent warming
is man-made, a finding endorsed by scientific academies across the
world, including in the US, China and Brazil.
The Royal Society’s move emerged as Chris Rapley, director of the
British Antarctic Survey, warned that the polar ice caps were breaking
up at a faster rate than glaciologists thought possible, with profound
consequences for global sea levels. Professor Rapley said the change
was almost certainly down to global warming. “It’s like opening a
window and seeing what’s going on and the message is that it’s worse
than we thought,” he said.
Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006