The first hearing on corporate climate change denial at the EU level saw experts give testimony on the history and political impact of the issue, as well as the role oil and gas company ExxonMobil has played in misleading policy-makers and the public.
MIT/Harvard climate science historian Dr. Geoffrey Supran told Parliamentarians: "I have only shown you the tip of the iceberg," and presented ExxonMobil as "one cog in a well-funded, well-oiled denial machine."
However, the company’s absence at the hearing will likely have unpleasant consequences for its lobbyists. Similar to Monsanto when it refused to follow a parliamentary summons for a hearing, ExxonMobil may be directly reprimanded by MEPs: a set of rules established in 2017 makes it possible to revoke the parliament access badges of any company ignoring a summons.
Taking away the EU Parliament’s accreditation of the corporation’s in-house lobbyists would be a first step to free EU climate policy from the decades-long stranglehold of the fossil fuels industry, and send a strong signal to other companies. ExxonMobil has spent over €35 million since 2010 to lobby the EU and protect its lucrative business interests,
More and more MEPs are backing the civil society organisations demanding ExxonMobil be stripped of its lobby badges.
Food & Water Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory, and Friends of the Earth Europe are working to raise more awareness of the necessity to keep fossil fuel corporations as far away from climate and energy policy-making as possible, ahead of the next meetings of the EU Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, where such decisions are made.
Frida Kieninger of Food & Water Europe, and official parliamentary petitioner, said: “Parliamentarians at today’s hearing learned just how dangerous and omnipresent deliberate misinformation about the grave climate impact of fossil fuels really is.
"We still have a small window of opportunity to stop absolute climate chaos, so it is only logical to start by shutting out any corporation misleading policy-makers and the public.
"MEP Molly Scott-Cato announced that the process to strip ExxonMobil of its lobby badges will start today. This action is welcomed, and a necessary first step."
Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory, said: “ExxonMobil’s well-funded EU lobbying shows that the company has moved from denying climate change to delaying and weakening climate action.
"But looking at the havoc global warming is already wreaking in many parts of the world, the impact is equally devastating. The EU Parliament must show Exxon and the rest of the fossil fuel industry the door, no matter how deep their pockets.
"Millions of young people are taking to the streets to demand determined climate action, but do MEPs accept the challenge?
This article is based on a press release from Food & Water Europe.
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Richard Scrase, media adviser at ExxonMobil, said: "We...believe that market-based systems that place a uniform, predictable cost on greenhouse gas emissions are more effective policy options than mandates or standards. Market-based policies more effectively drive consumer behaviour and technology innovation, while mandates and standards limit consumer choice and can perpetuate ineffective technologies."