Big Oil has engaged in a long-running climate disinformation campaign while raking in record profits, lawmakers find | CNN Politics


Big Oil companies have engaged in a “long-running greenwashing campaign” while raking in “record profits at the expense of American consumers,” the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee has found after a year-long investigation into climate disinformation from the fossil fuel industry.

The committee found the fossil fuel industry is “posturing on climate issues while avoiding real commitments” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Lawmakers said it has sought to portray itself as part of the climate solution, even as internal industry documents reveal how companies have avoided making real commitments.

For example, they said, BP has stated it strives to “be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner,” but the committee found internal BP documents that show the company’s recent plans do not align with the company’s public comments.

In a July 2017 email between several of the company’s high-level officials about whether to invest in curbing emissions from one of its gas projects off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago, BP’s vice president of engineering stated that BP had “no obligation to minimize GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions” and that the company should only “minimize GHG emissions where it makes commercial sense,” as required by code or if it fits into a regional strategy.

The committee said documents uncovered also showed the fossil fuel industry has presented natural gas as a so-called “bridge fuel” to transition to cleaner sources of energy, all while doubling down on its long-term reliance on fossil fuels with no clear plan of action to full transition to clean energy.

A strategy slide presented to the Chevron Board of Directors from CEO Mike Wirth and obtained by the committee states that while Chevron sees “traditional energy business competitors retreating” from oil and gas, “Chevron’s strategy” is to “continue to invest” in fossil fuels to take advantage of consolidation in the industry.

In a 2016 email from a BP executive to John Mingé, then-Chairman and President of BP America, and others, about climate and emissions, an employee assessed that the company often adopted an obstructionist strategy with regulators, noting, “we wait for the rules to come out, we don’t like what we see, and then try to resist and block.”

“The fossil fuel industry has of late been involved in extensive “greenwashing”—misleading claims in advertisements, particularly on social media, claiming or suggesting that they are “Paris aligned,” and that they are committed to meaningful solutions,” Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor who has studied the fossil fuel industry’s rebuke of climate science, told CNN. “Numerous analyses shows that these claims are untrue.”

BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were the focus of Democratic lawmakers’ investigation. The companies have denied engaging in a disinformation campaign surrounding climate change and the role the industry has played in fueling it for decades. CNN has reached out to the companies and organizations for comment on the committee’s findings.

“Today’s documents reveal that the industry has no real plans to clean up its act and is barreling ahead with plans to pump more dirty fuels for decades to come,” House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney told CNN in a statement.

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By Akshay

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