Oil giant accussed of funding climate change sceptics | Connect Asia

Oil giant accussed of funding climate change sceptics

Oil giant accussed of funding climate change sceptics

Updated 18 January 2012, 19:45 AEDT

The world's biggest oil company - ExxonMobil - has been accused of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to think-tanks that continue to question global warming The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, says ExxonMobil reneged on a promise to end financial support for climate change sceptics.

It also claims that a conference of climate change skeptics in Washington was sponsored by one of the groups that received funding from the oil giant.

Presenter: Emma Alberici, Europe Correspondent

Bob Ward, policy director ate the London School of Economics;

Rob Young, ExxonMobile spokesman

ALBERICI: Bob Ward - a policy director at the London School of Economics - first wrote to ExxonMobil in 2006. He was concerned about the financial support the company provided to climate change deniers.

Last year the world's biggest oil company told the LSE's Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment that it would discontinue funding several public policy groups whose position on climate change could quote, "divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner".

Three years later, Bob Ward says Exxon has reneged on that promise.

WARD: They have stopped funding for a number of the groups that have been denying climate change but they haven't stopped funding them all. Yet they have been telling people that they have stopped all that funding. So I think they should either own up that they are continuing funding for some of these groups or they should keep their promise.

ALBERICI: How many groups and what are the kinds of figures we are talking about as far as sums of money?

WARD: Several hundred thousand dollars a year. Two of the main organisations are the Heritage Foundation and something called the Atlas Economic Foundation. Now the reason I single out them is that they have been sponsors of a recent conference of so-called sceptics took place in Washington and that is mostly a gathering of lobbyists and other people who reject the evidence on climate change.

Of course it was also the conference at which Senator Fielding recently attended.

ALBERICI: Australia's Family First Senator?

WARD: Indeed. So I'm not sure whether people are aware that those people that he went to talk to, at least some of them are getting funding directly from the oil industry.

ALBERICI: Speaking from Dallas Texas, ExxonMobil spokesman Rob Young says his company's position has been distorted.

YOUNG: We fund a range of organisations interested in the public debate. Their views and what they want to say is entirely up to them. It is not that they speak for us or that we in fact control their views.

ALBERICI: But it doesn't concern you that you're funding a couple of groups in particular that quite openly question the facts around climate change?

YOUNG: Well, we are funding people on all sides of that debate. We fund the Brookings Institute.

ALBERICI: Bob Ward from the London School of Economics again.

WARD: These organisations are not informing public debate on climate change, they are trying to mislead people and frankly we have seen these sorts of tactics before, for instance in the case of the tobacco industry who for many, many years funded campaigns and misinformation about the adverse affects of their products.

This seems to me to be a similar situation in which a commercial company is funding misinformation campaigns because there is abundant evidence that their products are having an adverse effect.

ALBERICI: Bob Ward says he is still waiting for a response to the latest letter he sent ExxonMobil back in May.

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