ExxonMobil faces EU parliament ban

Oil giant might lose lobby access over failure to answer climate change denial questions

ExxonMobil could become the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.

The call to ban the company's access to MEPs, parliamentary meetings and digital resources was reportedly submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a high-level vote in late April.

“This is the company that denied the science, despite knowing the damage their oil exploitation was causing; which funded campaigns to block action on climate and now refuses to face up to its environmental crimes by attending today's hearing,” Cato said in a statement released Thursday. “We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament. We must remove their badges immediately.”

Responding to the threat, ExxonMobil contended it could not attend the hearing because of "ongoing climate litigation in the US." It was concerned that any comments made at the hearing “could prejudice those pending proceedings,” according to a letter obtained by AFP.

The investigation against the company is into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change and whether it had funding relationship with groups sowing doubt about human-caused climate change. Even though the oil giant publicly supports the Paris agreement, it has drawn the ire of scientists, academics and environmentalists, who accuse it of peddling climate misinformation.

Evidence presented at the hearing suggested that ExxonMobil had known since 1959 that global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels “was sufficient to melt the ice cap and submerge New York,” Harvard University researcher Geoffrey Supran told AFP. Supran presented the findings of a peer-reviewed study he had co-authored looking at almost 200 company documents over a period of decades. Four-fifths of internal documents acknowledged the science behind climate change, while a similar percentage of paid newspaper editorials by ExxonMobil in the US cast doubt on that same science.

“It is the overwhelming consensus of experts studying the history of fossil fuel funding that companies, including ExxonMobil, have orchestrated, funded and perpetuated climate misinformation to mislead the public and politicians, and stifle action. Unfortunately, they largely succeeded,” Supran said.

Yet, the oil giant continues to deny charges that it spread climate denial.

“We reject the false allegation that ExxonMobil suppressed scientific research on climate change. News reports that claim we reached definitive conclusions about the science of climate change decades before the world's experts are simply not accurate and have long since been debunked,” the company wrote in a statement provided to The Guardian.

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