By Cindy Baxter, originally published at PolluterWatch.org.
When Greenpeace first began focussing on ExxonMobil's funding of climate denial, its CEO and Chairman was arch denier Lee Raymond.
Raymond had spent years - and millions - on denying the science of climate change, both in funding right wing think tanks and scientists, and in his role as chair of the American Petroleum Institute's climate change committee. A 1998 document revealed ExxonMobil plotting with some of those think tanks to challenge climate science.
For years, Exxon had paid for expensive, weekly “Opinion Advertorials” on the New York Times opinion pages challenging the science (see image).
When Raymond stepped down and Rex Tillerson took over in 2006, we hoped the worst was over. That year, ExxonMobil dropped its funding of the Competitive Enterprise Institute that ran the charmingly titled “Cooler Heads Coalition”. The final straw for ExxonMobil was the CEI's “C02 is life” advert (this links to an annotated version, but it's the original ad) positing that we couldn't get enough of the stuff.
In dropping the CEI, ExxonMobil told everyone it had been “misunderstood” on its stance on climate change - and the media were led to believe that this tiger had changed its stripes. Its “Corporate Responsibility report” that year stated it was dropping its funding of a few think tanks because their “‘position on climate change diverted attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
And yet, the company continued to fund deniers and does to this day. As of May last year, Exxon has poured a total of $26,061,235 into the campaign against climate denial. While the funding in 2010 was just above $1 million, well down from its 2005 peak of $3.478 million, in 2010 Exxon started funding one of the think tanks that it had dropped and arguably the first off the blocks in the climate denial campaign, the George C Marshall Institute. The Koch brothers have taken up where Exxon left off, but its legacy is clear.