On Monday, the London Times published a story that had all the elements of a good conspiracy — except for the facts.
In a front-page story with the alarmist headline “Oil giant gave £1 million to fund climate skeptics,” the Times repeated the tired theory that ExxonMobil is funding climate change skeptics, implying that we are at the hub of a vast global conspiracy. The basis for this claim? Our support for a list of organizations that the reporter chose to omit from the story.
That’s right – the reporter wrote a story about a list of groups that he considers “skeptics” but didn’t publish the entire list. Nor did he give us any indication of how he determined these groups to be climate change skeptics when he e-mailed us this list on Sunday afternoon. In the interest of total transparency, here is the mysterious list for all to see:
- AEI American Enterprise Institute
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation*
- National Taxpayers Union Foundation
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
- Annapolis Center
- Communications Institute
- National Black Chamber of Commerce
- Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy*
- Heritage Foundation
- Manhattan Institute
- Media Research Center (Cybercast News Service formerly Conservative News)*
- ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council
- FREE Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
- Mercatus Center, George Mason University
- Washington Legal Foundation
- Center for American and International Law (formerly called the Southwestern Legal Foundation)
- American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research
- American Spectator Foundation
- National Association of Neighborhoods
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Federalist Society
- Pacific Legal Foundation
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Mountain States Legal Foundation
*ExxonMobil no longer provides funds to these groups.
These are among the 140+ public policy groups to which we contribute, and all are posted on our website for everyone to see. The Times chose not to report our contributions to other groups that didn’t fit the conspiracy, such as the Brookings Institute. They also don’t point out that ExxonMobil has undertaken climate change research for 25 years; or that our work has produced more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed literature; or that we’re the only major oil company with scientists who serve on the Nobel award-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Does this amount to a climate conspiracy? Most of these groups take an interest in a broad array of public policy issues, including taxes and trade, so it’s simplistic and unfair to pretend they have a single focus as climate change critics.
Not only do we give comparable funds to groups the Times likely would label as climate change advocates – including Chatham House, the World Economic Forum and the Brookings Institute — but we also invest hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage the risk of climate change. The alleged £1 million the Times cites pales in comparison to this funding.
For example, we’ve committed $100 million to the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University, where they’re researching innovations such as advanced solar panels and carbon capture and storage. We’ve invested more than $100 million in a new demonstration plant for our Controlled Freeze Zone technology, which helps remove carbon dioxide from produced natural gas streams. We’ve committed up to $600 million to an algae biofuels project with Synthetic Genomics, an effort that could one day help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using algae to make transportation fuels. And, since 2004, we’ve invested more than $1.5 billion in activities to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.
That’s the real story: ExxonMobil takes the issue of climate change seriously, and is taking action – and invested billions of dollars — to address it. But that’s not a story that fits the conspiracy theory.