Though oil companies BP and Shell both acknowledge the reality of climate change, both continue to support industry associations that are lobbying against climate change legislation:
“BP maintains its membership of the API through paying substantial fees based on the large size of BP’s business. It is our concern that these fees are used by the API to undermine US government action on climate change and that BP’s membership of the API contradicts its position on the issue,” writes John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, in a letter to Tony Hayward, the BP boss.
It is difficult to say how much climate change denialism is funded by US industry, but amazingly, the long-term campaign against it seems to have begun as much with the tobacco industry as with big oil.
By May 1993, as another memo from APCO to Philip Morris shows, the fake citizens’ group had a name: the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. It was important, further letters stated, “to ensure that TASSC has a diverse group of contributors”; to “link the tobacco issue with other more ‘politically correct’ products”; and to associate scientific studies that cast smoking in a bad light with “broader questions about government research and regulations” – such as “global warming”, “nuclear waste disposal” and “biotechnology”. APCO would engage in the “intensive recruitment of high-profile representatives from business and industry, scientists, public officials, and other individuals interested in promoting the use of sound science”.
Exxon Mobil (Engen, in South Africa) has only recently ceased funding groups that seek to cast doubt on climate science.
The ExxonMobil [corporate citizenship] report says: “In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Nine groups have reportedly lost the company’s support, including the George C Marshall Institute, the Washington DC-based think tank that asserts there is no scientific consensus on climate change, and that changes in the sun, not greenhouse gases, could be responsible for rising temperatures.