Above photo: An Exxon sign in Framingham, MA. (Photo: Brian Katt, Wikimedia Commons)
“Big Oil is the new Big Tobacco.”
ExxonMobil could soon join Monsanto as one of the only two companies not allowed to lobby European Union lawmakers.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said that it was unable to attend because of “ongoing climate change-related litigation in the U.S.”
That wasn’t good enough for Molly Scott Cato, a Green Party member of the European Parliament. In a statement, Green said a company which had spent millions on climate denial and then ducked responsibility for its actions didn’t deserve the right to promote itself in the EU.
“We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament,” said Cato. “We must remove their badges immediately.”
ExxonMobil spent over €35 million on lobbying efforts in the EU since 2010. If the vote goes against the energy giant, it would lose that right in the European Parliament.
Agribusiness and chemical conglomerate Monsanto lost EU lobbying rights in 2017 after the company refused to attend a hearing on the safety of the chemical glyphosate in the weedkiller RoundUp and Monsanto’s role in attempting to manipulate the regulatory process around the product.
“Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament,” Green party president Philippe Lamberts said at the time.
In a letter to the committee announcing its refusal to attend Thursday’s hearing, ExxonMobil said that it was certain a review of the facts would exonerate the company from accusations that it secretly knew the dangers of carbon emissions for decades while continuing to fund and promote climate denialism.
“We are confident that a neutral review of the facts will refute the allegations made by the company’s critics that are distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research,” the company wrote.
In ExxonMobil’s letter declining to attend the EU hearing, the company emphasizes the importance of tackling climate: “There are few challenges more important than meeting the world’s growing demand for energy while reducing environmental impacts and the risks of climate change.” pic.twitter.com/7lGRirgmUD
— Energy In Depth (@EnergyInDepth) March 21, 2019
Internal documents provided to the hearing by Harvard University research fellow Geoffrey Supran told a different story—that ExxonMobil knew of the damage its product was causing the planet since at least 1977 but pushed forward with promoting climate change denialism anyway.
“It is the overwhelming consensus of experts studying the history of fossil fuel funding that companies, including ExxonMobil, have orchestrated, funded and perpetuated climate misinformation to mislead the public and politicians, and stifle action,” Supran said. “Unfortunately, they largely succeeded.”
Advocates for climate responsibility celebrated the move against ExxonMobil.
I just testified as an expert witness to EU Parliament about ExxonMobil’s decades of climate denial + delay. Between being the first major hearing of its kind, a leaked Exxon memo, & the rising prospect of Exxon being banned from EU lobbying, it was an interesting day. THREAD pic.twitter.com/lRaBuqd4WQ
— Geoffrey Supran (@GeoffreySupran) March 22, 2019
“Big Oil is the new Big Tobacco,” said environmentalist Bill McKibben.
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) March 22, 2019
Sinn Féin member Lynn Boylan pointed out that the company has spent millions on a movement to stop or slow climate action.
Exxon has spent over €35 million since 2010 in lobbying EU institutions to delay & weaken essential climate action. They also rely on a number of major trade associations to lobby on its behalf……oh yeah & they support carbon tax! Think about it…. https://t.co/dBtzZbFyFZ
— Lynn Boylan MEP (@LNBDublin) March 21, 2019
Watch Supran’s testimony here: