Newspaper article International New York Times

Documents Put Pressure on Exxon over Climate ; Papers Suggest Industry Knew about Rising Levels of CO2 as Early as 1957

Newspaper article International New York Times

Documents Put Pressure on Exxon over Climate ; Papers Suggest Industry Knew about Rising Levels of CO2 as Early as 1957

Article excerpt

The Center for International Environmental Law released papers suggesting that the energy industry had knowledge of climate change 60 years ago.

Pressure on Exxon Mobil and the energy industry has increased with the release of a new cache of decades-old industry documents about climate change, even as Exxon pushed back against efforts to investigate the company over its climate claims through the years.

The new documents were released Wednesday by an activist research organization, the Center for International Environmental Law, which published the project on its website.

The documents, according to the environmental law center's director, Carroll Muffett, suggest that the industry had the underlying knowledge of climate change even 60 years ago.

"From 1957 onward, there is no doubt that Humble Oil, which is now Exxon, was clearly on notice" about rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the prospect that it was likely to cause global warming, he said.

What's more, he said, the documents show the industry was beginning to organize against the regulation of air pollution.

The American Petroleum Institute, energy companies and other organizations had created a group, the Smoke and Fumes Committee, to monitor and conduct pollution research, and to "use science and public skepticism to prevent environmental regulations they deemed hasty, costly and unnecessary," according to the center's description of the documents on its website. Those actions, Mr. Muffett suggested, would be echoed in later efforts to undermine climate science.

The center's work was first reported by Inside Climate News, which has published stories, as did The Los Angeles Times, suggesting that Exxon Mobil understood the risks of climate change from its own research, which it used to plan activities such as drilling in the Arctic, while it funded groups into the mid-2000s that denied serious climate risks.

Those earlier investigations led to a surge in activism against the company and the energy industry, using the hashtag #exxonknew. The investigations also have been cited by attorneys general, including Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, who have demanded information from Exxon about its internal research and its funding of climate denial. …

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