Climate change. Oil giants have known their influence since the 1960s

The world’s major oil and gas giants knew “at least” since the 1960s that fossil fuels would cause global warming, but persistently denied it and even practiced disinformation, according to a report by US lawmakers.

“For more than half a century, ‘Big Oil’ has lied to the American public about its role in the climate crisis and done everything in its power to keep the United States and the world dependent on its polluting products,” a report released Tuesday by the commission of inquiry condemns elected Democrats from the House of Representatives.

“Big Oil” doublespeak condemned

“Big Oil” are the six giants and organizations investigated during this investigation launched in September 2021: ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP America, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute (API) – the representative of the oil sector – and the Chamber of Commerce.

“All six (…) obstructed and delayed” the investigation by refusing to testify “despite subpoenas,” the 65-page report, titled “Denial, Disinformation and Doublespeak: The Evolution of Big Oil’s Efforts to Avoid Responsibility for Climate Change,” points out.

The report notes that after calling climate change a “hoax” and denying its very existence, the oil industry was forced to “change its position” in the face of science “that was too overwhelming to continue to deny.”
Then, he continues, “they developed a campaign of deception and doublespeak – supported by an army of professional organizations – by publicly claiming to support climate action but carrying out behind-the-scenes actions to avoid it”.

Face their responsibilities

And also, say elected officials, affirming that natural gas is “safe” for the climate and that it could serve as a “transitional energy to a fossil-free future.”

“It is time to hold Big Oil accountable for its campaign of fraud and take action to repair the damage it has caused,” the report concludes.

These are “old allegations that have already been addressed during congressional hearings on the subject and during court proceedings,” ExxonMobil told AFP. “As we’ve said time and time again, climate change is real and an entire branch of our group is dedicated to reducing emissions — ours and others,” he continued, noting that his annual budget is a third of that of the United States. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

An API spokesperson noted that the sector is “focused on providing Americans with reliable and affordable oil and gas while developing the next generation of low-emission technologies such as hydrogen and CO2 capture. “Any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” he said.

Forecasts of rising temperatures date back to 1977

In fact, this is not the first time that it has been revealed that oil groups have been aware of the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the climate for several decades.

The issue was raised during hearings conducted by this parliamentary committee, before which oil companies were particularly grilled.

In January 2023, the study was published in the journal Science revealed the remarkable accuracy of ExxonMobil scientists’ predictions of rising temperatures, some dating back to 1977.

But in 2000, the group’s chief executive Lee Raymond said he did not have “enough scientific knowledge about climate change to make reasonable predictions. » Several legal proceedings have already been initiated, mainly against the company in the United States.

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