can’t see the forest

Exxon: What’s This About Global Warming?

Exxon, the hardy folks who brought you the world’s greatest oil spill and those low, low gas prices, has decided to participate in U.S. industry talks on emissions regulations and has announced that it is no longer funding the Competttive Enterprise Insitute (CEI), one of Washington’s leading anti-regulatory lobby groups. Exxon is the world’s largest public corporation.

MSNBC reports:

Mark Boudreaux, a spokesman for Exxon, the world’s biggest publicly traded company, said its position on climate change has been “widely misunderstood and as a result of that, we have been clarifying and talking more about what our position is.”

Boudreux said Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and other groups that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions.

CEI acknowledged the change. “I would make an argument that we’re a useful ally, but it’s up to them whether that’s in the priority system that they have, right or wrong,” director Fred Smith said on CNBC’s “On the Money.”

Last year, CEI ran advertisements, featuring a little girl playing with a dandelion, that downplayed the risks of carbon dioxide emissions.

Ceres, a group of investors and environmentalists which has functioned as something of a watchdog on corporate environmental policy, gave Exxon a score of 35 on its performance in dealing with the problem of global warming in 2006. British Petroleum, by comparison, had scored a 90.

While it is always nice to see corporations scrambling to remain competitive in terms of environmental policy, take caution not to read too much into Exxon’s maneuver. Like its competitors, Exxon is still in the business of selling fuel, after all. This shift in policy is more about image than substance.

Exxon, along with about 20 other companies, will be participating in New York talks sponsored by Resources for the Future. The outcome of these talks is expected to be recommendations to U.S. legislators on how to most effectively regulate greenhouse emissions. Should nonpartisan scientists be making those recommendations, rather than corporate stooges? Just a thought.



6 Responses

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  1. tamino said, on 1/13/07 at 1:43 pm

    Indeed! The latest Exxon move reminds of a biblical quote: “the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.”

    Exxon’s claim that their position has been “widely misunderstood” is all smoke and mirrors. Their position has finally been understood (leading U.S. senators and Britain’s Royal Society to criticize them publicly for funding the misinformation campaign).

    They’re not the least bit sorry they’ve contributed to years of delay on this critically important issue. But they’re mighty sorry they got caught.

  2. inel said, on 1/13/07 at 6:06 pm

    Well, at least it’s a start. (I am an eternal optimist.) However, in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ report (Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air) on ExxonMobil’s antics, there were over forty organizations funded by this oil giant in order to muddy the waters on global warming, so if they are pulling the funds from half a dozen, we still have a long way to go before the misinformation will die down, especially in mythological blogs :-)

  3. Curtis said, on 1/13/07 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for that link…also I had read in another article that this latest move might be little more than a funding shuffle.

  4. inel said, on 1/14/07 at 6:17 am

    Once sufficient pundits have poisoned public consciousness, freeform misinformation will have a life of its own on the blogosphere, like old wives’ tales. That’s one reason I think it is worth occasionally responding to some of the long-standing arguments against acceptance of global warming. I just wrote a response to a case in point on my blog.

  5. zilla said, on 1/14/07 at 8:09 am

    Everyone deserves a shot at redemption, I suppose even the world’s largest corporations. Here’s to hoping that the future, beginning now, brings earnest efforts toward righting wrongs; and here’s to a public growing increasingly aware and wiser, holding government and industry as accountable as we hold ourselves.

    I know far too many individuals who still deny globall warming, who look right at Al Gore’s Powerpoint presentations and say, “No, those pieces do not fit together.”

    Denial runs deep.

    Still, I’m not giving up on anyone :-)

  6. Alfred said, on 6/16/07 at 3:11 am

    One of the best locations I’ve come across lately!!! Definately a permanent bookmark!

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