This is a guest post by Cindy Baxter, originally published by Climate Investigations Center
For some reason, ExxonMobil has delayed publishing its corporate giving report this year, well beyond the normal timing. Is the report undergoing new internal scrutiny due to the investigations launched by several states?
Normally, by this time of year, Exxon has published what it calls its Worldwide Giving Report, as part of its Corporate Citizenship Report. This report details to whom the ExxonMobil Foundation has given grants - everything from universities to health organizations to think tanks and corporate trade associations.
This data has been the source of the running tally ExxonSecrets has kept since the late 1990’s on the company’s funding of climate denial. The report (called “dimensions” in the early days) is a summary of the filings the ExxonMobil Foundation has to give to the IRS each year.
ExxonSecrets looked carefully at the groups receiving Exxon funding under its “Public Policy and Information” section, selected those running climate denial campaigns, and tallied the funding, adding figures from “corporate” funding.
The running total of ExxonMobil funding from 1997-2014 is $31,853,735.
There is a lot of crucial information in these ExxonMobil tax forms that will be revealed in subpoenas. For instance, in 2005, there was a big discrepancy between the information in the ExxonMobil Foundation IRS Form 990 about the denier think tanks Exxon was funding, than it published in the more publicized Worldwide Giving Report.
The tax form confirmed that they were funding the climate denial programs being rolled out by those groups, but the Worldwide Giving Report seemed to intentionally obscure the purpose of those grants. After 2005, they started trimming the grant descriptions from both these documents.
We have now gone back and combed through these funding documents and can document more than $5 million in climate specific grants given between 1997 and 2005 among the $31 million plus in overall funding to the denial machine. (contact us for more detail)
Exxon normally posts this Worldwide Giving Report around the week of its AGM, toward the end of May, as it did last year. Years ago it was published by late April. One year we had to call them in June to get it.
This year, now a month after the AGM, the report is still MIA on the ExxonMobil website. A mystery.
So what’s Exxon hiding?
Maybe its PR minions are still putting the finishing polish on the nice designs to showcase what a good corporate citizen the company is. Maybe their lawyers are going through the document looking for booby traps. Either way, they’re taking an awfully long time.
Yes, Exxon has, on the face of it, reduced its funding of the denial machine over the years, since its peak in 2005, when arch climate denier Lee Raymond was still CEO and Chairman. That year the company spent just under $3.5 million on climate denial, with $946,500 specifically earmarked for climate. The year before, 2004, they spent nearly $3.4 million, with well over half, $1.9 million in grants labeled climate change in one way or another.
In 2014, the funding was down to $1.5 million. This, despite years of telling the media they stopped funding groups in 2007 and published this semi mea culpa in their annual report in the spring of 2008.
“In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
But in fact, they kept funding many of those same groups. For instance, in 2014, Exxon was still funding ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the industry-sponsored organization that draws up draft legislation to undermine renewable energy and promote fossil fuels for its members, state legislators, to roll out in their states.
They were still funding the National Black Chamber of Commerce, who went on a tear against the Obama Administration EPA’s Clean Power Plan a year ago.
There were a few others, most notably the Chamber of Commerce Foundation which received $1million. Here’s what the Chamber was saying about climate change in 2014.
So who did ExxonMobil fund in 2015?
In the year of the Paris Agreement, how much Exxon money went to organizations fighting progress on climate solutions commensurate with the scientific consensus and mandate to prevent dangerous climate change (aka climate denial)?
Come on Exxon, fess up. The sooner, the better. We're dying to know.