There is a classic industry public relations tactic called the 3 technique – Deny, Delay and Dominate. For years Exxon has pursued this strategy over climate change very aggressively.

The company has denied for years that climate change is a problem or even man-made, and by so doing it has delayed any action. One of the key ways its has done this is by funding forty or so right wing think tanks who have done its dirty work for it. These groups have consistently tried to undermine any action on climate change.

Well it now seems that Exxon is moving to the last “D” in the list as its strategy of delaying becomes increasingly untenable. Although the company still tries to highlight the uncertaintiaes in climate science, it is stopping funding many of the influential right-wing think tanks that have led the climate change denial work, such as the Comeptitive Enterprise Institute. Instead it is increasingly turning its attention to trying to dominate what action will happen on climate and influence the regulation on any climate legislation.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that “Exxon has cut off funding to a handful” of the groups it has been funding. “In one of the strongest signs yet that U.S. industry anticipates government curbs on global-warming emissions, Exxon Mobil Corp., long a leading opponent of such rules, is starting to talk about how it would like them to be structured”.

“Exxon, said the paper, “is meeting in Washington with officials of other large corporations to discuss what form the companies would prefer a possible U.S. carbon regulation to take … The question is what kind of action. The economic reality is that some companies will win from a carbon constraint and some companies will lose, depending on how the regulation is written”.

Article cited: Jeffrey Ball, “Exxon Softens Climate-Change Stance – Hoping to Shape Policy, Oil Giant Joins Dialogue On Curbing of Emissions”, The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2007; pA2

One Comment

  • On this topic, the following letter was sent yesterday to some US NGO’s from the Vice President for Public Affairs of ExxonMobil.

    Date: January 11, 2007
    Subject: U.S. Climate Change Policy

    ExxonMobil’s position on climate change continues to be misunderstood by
    some individuals and groups.

    There is increasing evidence that the earth’s climate has warmed on average
    about .6 C in the last century. What is clear today is that greenhouse gas
    emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change.

    Climate remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study.
    But the risks to society and ecosystems could prove to be significant – so
    despite the areas of uncertainty that do exist, it is prudent to develop
    and implement strategies that address the risks, keeping in mind the
    central importance of energy to the economies of the world. This includes
    putting policies in place that start us on a path to reduce emissions,
    while understanding the context of managing carbon emissions among other
    important world priorities, such as economic development, poverty
    eradication and public health. While this long term objective is pursued,
    near term objectives should include supporting climate research to reduce
    uncertainties while pacing policy responses; promoting energy efficiency;
    deploying existing technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
    supporting research and development of new, low-GHG technologies.

    Policymakers are considering a variety of proposed regulatory options to
    mitigate GHG emissions. In our view, assessing these options requires an
    understanding of their likely effectiveness, scale and cost, as well as
    their implications for economic growth and quality of life. Within
    ExxonMobil, we analyze and compare the various policy options by evaluating
    the degree to which they:

    § maximize the use of market forces
    § ensure a uniform and predictable cost of reducing CO2
    § promote global participation
    § minimize complexity and administrative costs
    § maximize transparency to companies and consumers

    ExxonMobil scientists have undertaken climate change research and related
    policy analysis for 25 years and their work has produced more than 40
    papers in peer-reviewed literature. In addition, our scientists participate
    in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and
    numerous related scientific bodies.

    Over the years the company has supported major projects at such
    institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford
    University, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics,
    Batelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Princeton University, Charles River
    Associates, the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction, the International
    Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R & D Programme, Yale University, The
    University of Texas, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Lamont Doherty
    Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

    Similarly, we support an array of public policy organizations that research
    and promote discussion on climate change [including], the American
    Enterprise Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for
    Strategic and International Studies. We publish the complete list of
    organizations on our web site – and update the published list once per

    For our part, ExxonMobil is taking action to mitigate greenhouse gas
    emissions today and to support the development of advanced energy
    technologies with the potential to significantly reduce future emissions.
    These include:

    Ø Working with Manufacturers of Automobiles and Commercial Industrial
    Engines on research and development programs that could yield fuel economy
    improvements in internal combustion engines by as much as 30%, with lower
    corresponding emissions.

    Ø Supporting the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford
    University with a charge to accelerate the development of commercially
    viable energy technologies that can lower greenhouse gas emissions on a
    global scale. GCEP’s focus includes hydrogen production, storage and use;
    biomass and solar energy; carbon dioxide capture and storage; and advanced
    transportation and coal technologies. ExxonMobil helped launch the $225
    million project in 2002. GCEP is the largest privately-funded, long term
    research program of its type in the world.

    Ø Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Efficiency and Best
    Practices that have resulted in the avoidance of 11 million metric tons of
    greenhouse gas emissions last year alone – the equivalent of taking about
    two million cars off the road. We are working to identify and implement
    additional measures to more than double these reductions in the near

    Ø Partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
    Department of Energy to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in its aim to save more than six billion gallons of fuel annually in the U.S. freight transport system through the EPA’s “Smartway” Transport Partnership. ExxonMobil was the first petroleum company to join and recently became a charter member of
    EPA’s Natural Gas Star International Program which expands to
    international operations the technologies and practices that have
    reduced methane emissions in the U.S. by six percent over a 1990
    baseline. In addition, through a 2003 industry-wide commitment by the
    American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil is improving the efficiency of
    its refining operations, to gain a 10 percent or more improvement
    between 2002 and 2012.

    Ø Partnering with the European Commission to study Carbon Capture and
    Storage (CCS) in the recently announced CO2ReMoVe program, a
    ground-breaking research initiative to establish scientific monitoring
    systems and determine the reliability of geological carbon dioxide storage.
    Our support for CO2ReMoVe, builds on more than three decades of involvement in the development and utilization of CCS-related technologies.

    We look forward to working with you as the national dialogue on energy
    policy and the important issue of climate change continues in the upcoming


    Ken Cohen

    Kenneth P. Cohen
    Vice President – Public Affairs
    Exxon Mobil Corporation

Comments are closed.