The Oil Giants Might Finally Pay for Pulling the Biggest Hoax of All

New York State is alleging ExxonMobil knew the risks of climate change and defrauded its investors by misrepresenting them.

Middle East Instability Props Oil Price Close to All Time High
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n October 23, in a federal court in New York, opening arguments will be heard in one of the most important corporate malfeasance cases of the modern era, rivaled only by the tobacco litigations of the 1990s. The state of New York is suing ExxonMobil on charges that the energy goliath consistently misled its investors about what it knew concerning the climate crisis—essentially lying to them about what it might eventually cost the company in eventual climate-related financial risks, because the company knew better than practically anyone else what those risks were. From Inside Climate News:

Exxon engaged in “a longstanding fraudulent scheme” to deceive investors by providing false and misleading assurances that it was effectively managing the economic risks posed by increasingly stringent policies and regulations it anticipated being adopted to address climate change, the lawsuit states. “Instead of managing those risks in the manner it represented to investors, Exxon employed internal practices that were inconsistent with its representations, were undisclosed to investors, and exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe,” the lawsuit said.

And the hardball has begun in earnest, again via ICN:

New court filings reveal that Exxon sent letters to a group of investment advisers and shareholder activists who prosecutors want to put on the stand, informing them they will be subject to subpoenas from the company seeking documents relevant to the case if they choose to testify. Because of their roles investing in and engaging with Exxon over climate change, these witnesses’ testimony could prove critical to the state’s case. With opening statements scheduled to begin Oct. 23, a lawyer in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office wrote that the request would “impose disproportionate burdens on these witnesses in a transparent attempt to discourage them from testifying voluntarily, and threatening to upend the trial schedule.”…

Endangered Blue Whales Spotted Off California Coast
Oil companies built their rigs to account for sea-level rise.

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While prosecutors had agreed to allow Exxon to interview the witnesses before the trial, the company went further by sending at least one witness what the attorney general described as an expansive request for documents and communications, including “all documents concerning your oil and gas holdings” and more. Exxon wrote on July 30 that it planned to send documents requests to seven witnesses.

The case is historic, especially in light of the revelations that Exxon and other energy companies knew as long ago as 30 years that carbon emissions were becoming perilous to the planet. It is possible that, if the case proceeds to trial, the energy companies may find themselves in the same spot where Brown & Williamson was on the subject of whether nicotine was addictive. MORE

Exxon’s climate denial set to face first public scrutiny as legal woes mount


Vehicles pass by an Esso gas station in Ottawa on Oct. 26, 2018. Esso is a trademark of Imperial Oil, an affiliate of Exxon. File photo by Alex Tétreault

It’s been nearly four years since leaked documents revealed Exxon Mobil Corp.understood that fossil fuel emissions caused the planet to warm before it began funding a Big Tobacco-style misinformation campaign to discredit climate science.

Now the world’s largest publicly traded oil company will face public questions for the first time over its role in creating a climate crisis that threatens to upend human civilization and render dozens of major cities uninhabitable before the end of the century.

On Thursday, European Parliament members are set to hold a hearing in Brussels that could strip Exxon Mobil of lobbying access and deepen the oil giant’s mounting legal woes.

“The historical evidence is incontrovertible,” Geoffrey Supran, the Harvard University researcher who co-authored the first peer-reviewed analysis of Exxon Mobil’s history of climate communication, said by phone. “The evidence points only one way, that these companies and trade associations funded misinformation to stifle policymakers.”

The organizers say Exxon Mobil declined an invitation to testify. Spokesmen for the company did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. MORE

Oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion undermining climate action since 2015, report says


A Esso gas station in Ottawa is seen in this file photo taken on Oct. 26, 2018. Esso retail outlets are operated by Imperial Oil, which is majority-owned by ExxonMobil. Photo by Alex Tetréault

In the three years since world leaders signed the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s five largest oil and gas companies have spent more than $1 billion on misleading branding and lobbying related to climate change, according to a new report.

While the oil majors — ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total — have publicly supported carbon pricing and other efforts to mitigate climate change, they have also lobbied against effective policy, the report from London-based think tank InfluenceMap says.

“The overriding intention and net result of these efforts has been to slow down binding and increasingly crucial policy” while the companies also overplay their own green initiatives, it said in a report released late on Thursday.

In the three years since world leaders signed the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s five largest oil and gas companies have spent more than $1 billion on misleading branding and lobbying related to climate change, according to a new report.

While the oil majors — ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total — have publicly supported carbon pricing and other efforts to mitigate climate change, they have also lobbied against effective policy, the report from London-based think tank InfluenceMap says.

“The overriding intention and net result of these efforts has been to slow down binding and increasingly crucial policy” while the companies also overplay their own green initiatives, it said in a report released late on Thursday.

In the month before last November’s U.S. midterm elections, for example, the five companies and related trade associations spent $2 million on targeted social media campaigns in five states where energy policy was in play.

Three-quarters of that spending went to Washington state, where a ballot initiative to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions was defeated. Smaller amounts successfully sought to defeat green initiatives in Alaska and Colorado and helped re-elect Republican Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. Cruz rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden participates in an event to promote the Quest carbon capture and storage project in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta on Nov. 6, 2015. File photo by Mike De Souza

 

The report noted three emerging trends in how the majors deal with their public perception related to climate change:

  1. Draw attention to their low-carbon initiatives (and away from the fossil fuels they still primarily peddle);
  2. Position the company as a climate expert,
  3. Stress their climate concern while ignoring key parts of the solution.

MORE

Major Pipeline Delays Leave Canada’s Tar Sands Struggling

Keystone XL’s construction has been delayed by the courts, tar sands forecasts are down and investors are worried.

Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty
Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty

March has brought a string of setbacks for Canada’s struggling tar sands oil industry, including the further delay of two proposed pipelines, a poor forecast for growth and signs that investors may be growing wary.

On Friday, a federal appeals court in California refused to lift a lower court order that blocks construction of the Keystone XL pipeline until a thorough new environmental assessment is completed. The decision likely pushed back by a year the start of major work by TransCanada, Keystone XL’s owner, to complete the project.

The same day,  ExxonMobil affiliate Imperial Oil said it was delaying a new tar sands project in Alberta, likely by a year.

Those setbacks followed an earlier announcement by Enbridge, another pipeline operator, that it would delay the completion of its Line 3 expansion through northern Minnesota by a year, to late 2020. That project is one of two other major pipelines planned to carry oil out of Canada’s tar sands, also called oil sands. MORE

Founders of plastic waste alliance ‘investing billions in new plants’

European NGO says firms are likely to be at centre of global boom in plastic production

Plastic bottles and other rubbish washed up on a beach in Ireland.
 The Alliance to End Plastic Waste has committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling. Photograph: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

The founding companies behind a self-styled alliance to end plastic waste are among the world’s biggest investors in new plastic productions plants, according to a European NGO.

A majority of the firms which announced this week they were collaborating to try to help tackle plastic pollution are likely to be at the heart of a global boom in plastic production over the next 10 years.

“These kind of actions want to cure the image of plastic. But plastics don’t have an image problem – the exaggerated use of it in products with a short lifespan is a problem in itself.”

“These kind of actions want to cure the image of plastic. But plastics don’t have an image problem – the exaggerated use of it in products with a short lifespan is a problem in itself,”Together the companies have committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling, with an aspiration to raise that to $1.5bn if more members join.

But most of the founding firms have tens of billions of dollars riding on the need for global plastic production to continue growing over the next decade and more. MORE