InsideClimate News continues to back away from the main theme of its discredited stories that mischaracterized ExxonMobil’s history of climate research.
I had an opportunity yesterday to discuss these inaccurate reports on north Texas’s public radio station KERA in Dallas. I was preceded on air by Neela Banerjee, who co-wrote the articles in question. On the program yesterday, she repeated her near-laughable claim that InsideClimate News never meant to suggest that ExxonMobil stopped climate science research in the late 1980s.
She indignantly pointed out that they never said ExxonMobil stopped our research. So it’s worth pointing out that in an October 20 story, InsideClimate News wrote:
ICN’s reporting also revealed that the company later curtailed its research program and instead led a long campaign to create doubt about climate science.
As anyone paying attention knows, that notion about ExxonMobil stopping its climate science research has been repeated as the main takeaway in subsequent news coverage and opinion pieces.
Yesterday, Ms. Banerjee elaborated with a lesson in semantics: “First, let’s understand what the word curtail means,” said Neela. “It doesn’t mean to stop. It means to limit or reduce.”
OK, that’s not what the stories imply, but that’s not true either. I told her in response ExxonMobil didn’t cut research on climate. We increased it.
And it’s easy to verify.
Take for example, a $100 million commitment made under former CEO Lee Raymond — inaccurately and simplistically branded by InsideClimate News as a climate skeptic — that helped establish the groundbreaking Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University. Or millions in research projects with leading universities such as MIT and Columbia.
And that’s not even counting more than $400 million spent at our refineries and more than $200 million at chemical facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of our Global Energy Management System. Or more than $2 billion spent on cogeneration facilities to more efficiently produce electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at our manufacturing sites.
You get the picture.
Another interesting admission by Ms. Banerjee yesterday was that ExxonMobil didn’t fund junk science or misinformation, despite the insinuation to that effect in the phrase I highlighted above.
“We’ve never said that Exxon somehow manipulated its own internal science or got in the way of other people doing sound science,” Neela explained. “But what we have said, based on evidence, based on testimony, based on letters to Exxon, based on so much more research that came before us is that Exxon worked to stop action on climate change. And Mr. Cohen said it was because they thought the policies were not good ones.”
In making that point, she acknowledged what I have been saying all along but has not been reported in InsideClimate News, the Columbia Journalism School project in the Los Angeles Times, and the countless blogs, editorials and attack pieces that inaccurately report on our actions.
Let me repeat: ExxonMobil has been continuously researching climate science, AND we have stood up to oppose what we consider to be bad climate policy proposals. The two things are not mutually exclusive, despite what InsideClimate News suggests.
We have and will continue to oppose bad policy.
Along with a broad-based coalition of U.S. industry, ExxonMobil opposed the Kyoto protocol because it would have had the effect of exempting between one-half to two-thirds of the world’s emissions. We opposed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation because, among other things, it exempted emissions from coal – which is the most carbon intensive fuel. How can anyone call that an effective policy to reduce emissions?
Now that I’ve told you what we oppose. Let me tell you what we support.
ExxonMobil advocates policy options that ensure uniform and predictable cost of carbon; allow market prices to drive solutions; maximize transparency; reduce administrative complexity; promote global participation; and are easily adjusted to future developments in climate science and policy impacts. Since 2009, ExxonMobil has supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the most efficient and effective way for policy makers to put a price on carbon emissions.
And that’s finally the main point I tried to make on the radio today.
Why are we talking about history — 10, 20 and 30 years ago — and not about the challenge the world faces today? And that is how do we provide the energy needed for modern society while reducing emissions and the risk of climate change?