Exxon investigation: A warning shot for fossil fuel companies as climate lies unveiled

Exxon investigation

Creative Commons: Mike Mozart, 2014

In the first concrete legal action against ExxonMobil’s web of climate lies, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced he will investigate whether the oil giant knowingly misled the public and investors about the dangers of climate change.

Last month, an expose from InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon knew about climate change as far back as 1977 – over ten years before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.

The company’s own scientists warned the its top leadership that burning fossil fuels causes climate change and of the potentially “catastrophic” impacts this could cause.

Yet, despite its own extraordinary research into the impacts of fossil fuels on the earth, the company has spent decades at the forefront of climate denial; lobbying to block federal and international action to curb emissions, and helping create a web of misinformation that continues to this day.

An Greenpeace investigation found the company spent more than $30 million spreading confusion about climate science before making a public commitment to end funding such front groups in 2008.

However, Exxon continued to fund members of Congress who deny climate change.

But the game is up and the company will now be held accountable for its role in climate denial.

The New York attorney general’s investigation into ExxonMobil’s web of lies is supported by high profile figures, including US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and climate campaigners.

And with Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private coal company, also reported to be under investigation, and companies’ insincere charm offensives fooling no-one, other fossil fuel majors should be feeling the pressure over their dirty tactics including funding “independent” researchers to dispute established climate science and faking “grassroots” organisations.

Big energy players’ tactics are out in the open, the fortunes of fossil fuel companies are crumbling, and renewables are booming.

With more and more institutions and cities around the world already dropping their fossil fuel assets, leaders – including those from politics, business and the faith community – calling for an end to dirty energy and over 150 national climate plans on the table, Exxon and its brethren are in a race against time to face up to the dampening fossil fuel demand and find another revenue stream.

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