PR 101: actions speak louder than words; ExxonMobil needs to walk the walk

UPDATE: guess all our good karma is coming back, this story has been running on ExxonMobil's Financial News page on Google all day!

Last week ExxonMobil chief spokesperson, Kenneth Cohen, was in London playing a bit of PR offense for the oil giant. Cohen went after Greenpeace for their recent report outlining the funding in 2006 that Exxon provided to 41 think tanks and associations.

These groups have been on the front lines of the war against the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to humans as the cause of global warming.

Cohen stated that Exxon was not a “climate change denier” and “wanted to play a constructive role in countering global warming.”

While Exxon now appears to be moving to the right side of the global warming issue, here's what some of the thinks tanks they continue to fund say about global warming on their websites and the amount of money they have received from Exxon since 1998:

Heartland Institute: ($830,000)

” All of the supposed catastrophic effects of global warming have been rebutted by scientists, including melting ice, hurricanes, other extreme weather, and extinction of wildlife. An increasing number of experts believe the recent warming is due to natural cycles driven by variability in solar radiation.”

The Frontiers of Freedom: ($1.1 million)

“These observations, however, do not prove that the rise in CO2 caused the rise in temperature; and peer-reviewed scientific journal articles appear weekly that demonstrate the diversity of opinion that exists on this issue.”

The Heritage Foundation: ($565,000)

“Given that the current upward trend in temperatures is not unprecedented, it stands to reason that minor warming will not lead to unprecedented catastrophes, and scientific evidence confirms this.”

ExxonMobil is the largest, most profitable company in the history of companies and to have such a player at the table working on real solutions would be a giant step forward. However, as long as Exxon continues to fund these think tanks and associations, the level of mistrust will remain high amongst the public, the scientific community and environmental organizations.

Unfortunately for Exxon, this mistrust will buffer any efforts by Cohen, et al, to make their company the climate change crusader it s now pretending to be.

The easiest move they can make in the short-term to boost their credibility would be to end their funding to the 41 think tanks.