Anti-oil activists are directing another round of attacks at ExxonMobil, each pivoting off the misinformation served up on their behalf by InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times, the Columbia Journalism School, and others last fall.
It would do no good to address each new broadside individually, much less to go line-by-line through each diatribe.
Suffice it to say that our critics’ statements about “what we knew” about climate change in the 1970s and 1980s are deliberately inaccurate and misrepresent the basic facts. To suggest that we had reached definitive conclusions, decades before the world’s experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development, is not credible.
The documents in question have been available – many of them were “found” by our critics in our public archives. I invite everyone to peruse them in their entirety and to make up their own minds.
That said, I do think it would be helpful to point out the deep, fundamental differences of opinion that exist between our critics and us, because they put some needed context around the charges made about ExxonMobil and our role in the world.
ExxonMobil believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action. We also believe that providing the energy sources that fuel modern life, enable progress, lift people out of poverty, and raise living standards are essential and worthwhile endeavors. At the same time we understand the challenges that exist in meeting the world’s energy needs while taking steps, at every turn, to safeguard the environment.
These points are especially critical considering that for at least the next several decades, by all reasonable estimates, global energy demand will continue to grow.
We will need contributions from all viable energy sources – especially natural gas – to meet that growing demand, all the while working to move in the direction of a lower-emissions future. That helps explain why, at ExxonMobil, we are developing advanced technologies and processes to reduce emissions in both the development of our products and their use.
Many of our most pointed detractors would like for society to develop differently from how we view it. In a 2011 book, for instance, one of the most vocal of these critics called for “a controlled decline” of our economy that eschews notions of growth.
We disagree, and strongly. Our vision of economic growth, societal progress, and improving living standards for billions of people clashes with ideals of controlled decline and no growth.
Those are significant differences of opinion and outlook, ones very much worth keeping in mind the next time hyperbolic charges are leveled against ExxonMobil and the work we do.