The activists at InsideClimate News are up with another story that fundamentally misrepresents ExxonMobil’s climate research.
You’ll recall that ICN erroneously stated, “Toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial.”
The accusation is blatantly false, and when I confronted ICN’s Neela Banerjee about this on a recent radio program she retracted the statement and claimed InsideClimate News never meant to suggest that ExxonMobil stopped climate science research in the late 1980s.
“First, let’s understand what the word curtail means,” she told North Texas public radio. “It doesn’t mean to stop. It means to limit or reduce.” She added, “We’ve never said that Exxon somehow manipulated its own internal science or got in the way of other people doing sound science.”
In ICN‘s latest misstatement, they note that Exxon made budget cuts to climate science in the 1980s that “were steep and sudden.”
Know what else fell steeply in the 1980s, something the story never once mentioned or even hints at? The global price of oil.
The 1980s was a period in which the oil and gas industry was battered by extremely low oil prices, causing mass layoffs and an economic tailspin. During this time period, budgets were cut all throughout the company, as they were all throughout the industry.
The big news – which ICN did not report – is that when prices rebounded so did our climate-related spending.
And we not only resumed it, we increased it over the years that followed.
That spending includes a $100 million commitment to help establish the groundbreaking Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University. It also includes millions of dollars in collaborative research projects with leading universities such as MIT, Princeton, and Columbia.
Then there’s the hundreds of millions of dollars ExxonMobil has spent both to research and develop carbon capture and sequestration technologies as well as to investigate the promise of producing advanced biofuels, particularly from algae.
And that doesn’t even count more than $400 million spent at our refineries and more than $200 million at our 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.
There’s something else from ICN’s piece worth calling out. The article points out that a 1981 Exxon study noted that “it has not yet been proven that the increases in atmospheric CO2 constitute a serious problem that requires immediate action.”
Why is the fact that InsideClimate News mentioned this important?
Because it directly undermines the central claim of their whole series – the charge that has been picked up by the activist echo chamber and others – that we definitively knew enough in the early 1980s to support curbs on fossil fuel use.
Such grave inconsistencies in ICN’s stories about ExxonMobil are part-and-parcel with the omission of relevant facts and context that marked the site’s most recent piece.
It’s no secret why the activists at InsideClimate News ignore inconvenient facts, such as those about ExxonMobil’s climate spending. As should be clear by now, these supposed exposés aren’t about how ExxonMobil practices science. They’re really about how the activists at InsideClimate News practice politics.