Big Oil has engaged in a protracted climate misinformation campaign while reaping record profits


The Big Oil companies have engaged in a “protracted clean-up campaign” while raking in “record profits at a heavy cost to the American consumer,” the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee said. discovered after an investigation. a year-long investigation in climate misinformation from the fossil fuel industry.

The committee found the fossil fuel industry is “posturing on climate issues while avoiding realistic commitments” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lawmakers say they have sought to present themselves as part of the climate solution, even as internal industry documents reveal how companies avoid making actual commitments.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney told CNN in a statement: “Today’s documents reveal that the industry has no real plans to clean up its act and is moving ahead with plans. plans to pump more dirty fuels for decades to come.

For example, BP announced in 2020 that it intended to “become netless by 2050 or earlier,” but the committee found internal BP documents showing recent plans. of the company is inconsistent with the public comment of the company.

In a July 2017 email among several senior company officials about whether to invest in limiting emissions from one of the gas projects off the coasts of Trinidad and Tobago, the vice president BP’s technical chairman states that BP has “no obligation to reduce GHGs.” [greenhouse gas] emissions” and that the company should “reduce greenhouse gas emissions only where it makes commercial sense,” as required by the code or if it aligns with regional strategy.

BP declined CNN’s request for comment on the committee’s report.

The commission said the documents found also show that the fossil fuel industry has viewed natural gas as a so-called “bridge fuel” for the transition to cleaner energy sources, while increasing double its long-term dependence on fossil fuels without a clear plan. the act of making a complete transition to clean energy.

A strategy slide presented by CEO Mike Wirth to the Chevron Board of Directors and obtained by the committee said that while Chevron sees “tradition energy business competitors withdraw” from oil and gas, “Chevron’s strategy” is to “continue to invest” in fossil fuels to capitalize on industry consolidation.

In a 2016 email from a BP executive to John Mingé, then President and President of BP America, and others, about climate and emissions, an employee assessed that the company Companies often adopt a blocking strategy with regulators, noting that, “we wait for the rules to come out, we don’t like what we see, and then try to fight back and block them.” .”

Naomi Oreskes, “The fossil fuel industry has recently engaged in widespread “green cleaning” — misleading claims in advertisements, especially on social media, statements or suggestions that they are “aligned with Paris” and that they are committed to implementing meaningful solutions,” said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor who has studied the fossil fuel industry’s climate science rebuke and advises law firms that have brought lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, told CNN. “Multiple analysis shows these claims to be untrue.”

BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Chamber of Commerce are at the center of investigations by Democratic lawmakers. The companies have denied participating in a disinformation campaign around climate change and the industry’s role in promoting it for decades. CNN has reached out to companies and organizations for comment on the committee’s findings.

Todd Spitler, a spokesman for Exxon, said in a statement that the committee took the company’s internal communications out of context.

“The House Oversight Committee report sought to misrepresent ExxonMobil’s position on climate science and its support for effective policy solutions, by turning controversies,” Spitler said. well-intentioned, internal policy discussion into a corporate disinformation campaign.” “If specific members of the committee are so sure they are right, why should they take so many things out of context to prove their point?”

Megan Bloomgren, senior vice president at the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement that the industry has focused on producing “reliable, affordable energy while addressing the gas challenge.” back” and that “any allegation to the contrary is false.”

“The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has contributed to the substantial progress the United States has made in reducing U.S. CO2 emissions to multi-generation lows with The use of natural gas is increasing. “We are poised to be the leader in the next generation of low-carbon technologies, including CCUS and Hydrogen—technologies widely recognized as critical to meeting the world’s emissions reduction goals .”

Democratic lawmakers had hoped the committee hearings would be the fossil fuel industry’s “Big Tobacco” moment — a nod to the famous 1994 hearings when the Tobacco CEO insists that tobacco is not addictive, prompting false accusations and federal investigations.

The impact of House Oversight’s investigation into Big Oil won’t be immediate, but Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat and chairman of Oversight’s environmental subcommittee, said the findings were complementary. adds to the industry’s historical record and its role in global warming.

“These hearings and reports are historic because we have successfully invited the heads of Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, API and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to testify under oath for the first time on this matter. efforts to mislead the public about climate and force them to provide explosive internal documents,” Khanna told CNN in a statement. “I’m sure this work will be analyzed for years to come and help deepen understanding of the industry-wide role in funding and facilitating climate misinformation.”

Democratic lawmakers said the oil and gas industry thwarted their investigation over the course of more than a year. Many of their requests for internal documents were heavily redacted by the companies, without specifying why the information was withheld.

In other cases, the documents were heavily redacted because companies like Exxon said the information was “proprietary and confidential,” though lawmakers noted that was not the case. due to be eligible to withhold the information contained in the commission’s subpoena.

“These companies know their climate commitments are inadequate but are prioritizing Big Oil’s record profits over the human costs of climate change,” Maloney said. “It’s time for the fossil fuel industry to stop deceiving the American people and finally take serious steps to reduce emissions and address the global climate crisis they have helped create.”

This story has been updated with additional information.


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