This Thursday, officials representing some of the world’s biggest oil companies will appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to answer questions for the first time. Alleged attempts by the industry to obscure the science On the role of fossil fuels in global warming.
Memos from companies such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell show that oil companies have had scientific knowledge of the devastating role of fossil fuel emissions since the 1980s. Still, the companies reportedly fueled disinformation about the harms of their products through lobbying campaigns and covertly funding studies aimed at combating climate change-confirming data.
These efforts have recently come under greater scrutiny after Greenpeace UK drew renewed attention to the issue.
An undercover Greenpeace journalist spoke on Zoom with Keith McCoy, a senior director on Exxon’s Washington DC government affairs team. During this conversation, McCoy acknowledged that the company worked with “shadow groups” to thwart early climate change efforts and even “fight” against some of the science.
In the wake of this report, California Congressman Ro Khanna, who chairs the subcommittee of the Monitoring Committee on the Environment, told Greenpeace that he planned to respond to Exxon and its allies before Congress. With this moment on it, he said newsweek that they feel that these hearings may represent a turning point in public opinion.
“Most Americans are not aware that these companies[engaged in climate denial]or continue to do so. Once they find out about it, the voting is off the charts. They are shocked by this and oppose it,” Khanna said. “What we need to do is expose these companies to begin to change American public opinion.”
Khanna hopes that by publicly responding to these alleged breaches, these companies will encourage them to “stop their misinformation and lobbying and actually change their operations.”
Whereas in the past oil companies often organized their own PR and lobbying efforts, today these companies elect to carry out some of these efforts through trade associations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), a non-profit organization. The organization that lobbies Congress and claims revenue of about $239. million, according to its most recent tax filing.
During his conversation with Greenpeace, McCoy referred to firms like API as the “whipping boys” of the oil industry, which were positioned to influence policy, allowing companies to avoid public scrutiny. Because they deploy a climate-conscious message. Over the years, API has faced several lawsuits, including one from the state of Minnesota, for its alleged role in “mitigating the threat of climate change.”
Khanna said, “What our hearing wants to expose partly is that the transaction of money should be stopped.” newsweek. “But, it’s difficult because big oil companies can engage in greenwashing while letting other people do their dirty work.”
Oil companies have collectively pledged to prepare for “lower-carbon” futures. While European companies British Petroleum (BP) and Shell are working in this direction through billion-dollar investments in renewable energy, American giants Chevron and Exxon are focusing on finding a future for fossil fuels, sucking carbon from the air. Investing in technologies aimed at
The US continues to lag behind Europe in meeting its climate goals. A survey by the European Investment Bank found that seventy percent of Europeans expressed concern over climate issues, as opposed to 63 percent of Americans. With many state economies heavily tied to industry, needlework on the issue may pose a major challenge in some sectors. Khanna said taking action after these hearings needs to work around that challenge.
“We have to guarantee them jobs as their concerns are valid,” Khanna said. “We have to show them the proof. We should say there are 100,000 guaranteed high-paying, good jobs in clean technology in states like West Virginia and Kentucky.”
Khanna believes that once these individuals see these jobs in the fabric of their communities, they will become more willing to embrace “bold climate action”. Instead of tackling the issue through “think tank speeches” and Washington lectures, he said these actions should be done through grassroots dialogue with these constituencies.
The Endless Frontier Act, sponsored by Khanna in the House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate, aims to do just that. Through the creation of the Directorate of Technology and Innovation at the National Science Foundation, the bill would allow for the designation of “regional technology centers” designed for economic convenience in certain regions of the country.
Right now, that bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, where it will sit before being put to vote. While the upcoming hearing could open a new chapter in America’s relationship with the oil industry, Khanna stresses the need to implement these economic policies, such as the Endless Frontier Act, during this time. When it comes to uniting the country around clean energy, he said everyone should go with “win”.
Khanna said, “We really have to encourage those states to be conquered. We need a moment like Lincoln during the passage of the 13th Amendment where he went and figured out what the states and legislators were doing. needed.” “We just have to find out what it is that we can give these states or individual legislators (clean energy) to win.”
Shell spokesperson said newsweek In a statement: “We are working hard to provide the Committee with material and look forward to answering their questions. In a very short time, we have delivered thousands of pages of documents to the Committee that reflect Shell’s work on climate change.” Our strong support for the Paris Agreement, over several decades, and our efforts to become an industry leader in the transition to a low-carbon future.”
“We welcome the opportunity to participate in discussions tomorrow,” an ExxonMobil spokesperson said. “ExxonMobil has long recognized that climate change is real and poses serious risks. In addition to our substantial investments in next-generation technologies, ExxonMobil also advocates for responsible climate-related policies. Public statements are and have been true, fact-based, transparent, and in line with the views of the broader, mainstream scientific community at the time. ExxonMobil has contributed to the development of climate science for decades and made its work publicly available And as the scientific community’s understanding of climate change evolved, ExxonMobil responded accordingly.”
“API looks forward to testifying before the House Oversight Committee and advancing our priorities of pricing carbon, regulating methane, and reliably producing American energy,” said an API spokesperson.
newsweek Contacted Chevron and BP for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.
Update 10/27/21 1:30PM ET — This story has been updated with comments from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute.