HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

The fossil fuel industry remains the main historical actor shaping politics, regulations, and education on the dangers of their activity, with the goal of expanding fossil fuel production and consumption. This history is mostly unknown and not taught in schools, featured in cultural works, or reported in the mainstream media due to decades-long media strategies and influential soft power exerted by the fossil fuel industry. Nonetheless, some of this historical evidence is being utilized in climate litigation against fossil fuel firms and governments.


1912
June 14
COURIER NEWS
The newspaper Plainfield Courier-News in New Jersey published the headline “Coal Consumption Affecting Climate” and mentioned in the article that the coal burned in furnaces around the world was causing an effect that “may be considerable in a few centuries”. The same news was also found in newspapers in Australia and New Zealand. The source of the news was an article in the magazine Popular Mechanics published in March, 1912, which captured the basics of carbon dioxide (CO2) impact on climate.

The news article indicated that “The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year” and that “when this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.” This article was titled “Remarkable Weather of 1911: The Effect of the Combustion of Coal on the Climate – What Scientists Predict for the Future” published on August 14, 1912, in the New Zealand newspaper Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette.




1920

EDISON
In an interview, Thomas Edison envisioned using and storing what is now called renewable energy. Edison also suggested investing in solar energy generated with solar panels as he was skeptical of energy from burning fossil fuels.

In the 1910 interview Thomas Edison stated: “We should utilize natural forces and thus get all of our power. Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy”, adding “Some day some fellow will invent a way of concentrating and storing up sunshine to use instead of this old, absurd Prometheus scheme of fire.” Later in 1931, he stated: “I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Reference document:
The publisher Elbert Hubbard printed an interview with Thomas Edison in his journal “The Fra”.


1953
May 24
NEW YORK TIMES
The Canadian physicist Gilbert Plass talked at a scientific meeting about the dangers of carbon dioxide pollution. He made a sensational statement that became headline news around the world, including the New York Times. Plass stated “The large increase in industrial activity during the present century is discharging so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the average temperature is rising at the rate of 1.5 degrees per century”. In 1961, he went further and blamed fossil fuels for most of the global warming.

The New York Times article wrote: “The amount of carbon dioxide in the air will double by the year 2080 and raise the temperature an average of at least 4 per cent. The burning of about two billion tons of coal and oil a year keeps the average ground temperature somewhat higher than it would otherwise be.”




1954

API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) approved a research proposal by geochemist Harrison Brown and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The results indicated that fossil fuels had caused atmospheric CO2 concentrations to rise by about 5% over the past century. In 1955, the API began funding the proposed research at Caltech under the name Project 53. Also in 1954, the Air Pollution Foundation, with links to API and several other major energy and automobile companies, funded in the Caltech's lab the research of Charles David Keeling to gather carbon dioxide samples, resulting in the famous Keeling's curve.

An excerpt from the research proposal to the API from Harrison Brown and colleagues in 1954: “Perhaps the most interesting effect concerning carbon in trees which we have thus far observed is a marked and fairly steady increase in the C12/C13 ratio with time. Since 1840 the ratio has clearly increased markedly. This effect can be explained on the basis of a changing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere resulting from industrialization and the consequent burning of large quantities of coal and petroleum. If this explanation were correct, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere today would be about 5% greater than it was a century ago.” In November 1954, another Caltech research project at Brown's lab, funded by the Air Pollution Foundation and proposed by Keeling’s director, Samuel Epstein, emphasized the potential impact on Earth’s climate of burning “coal and petroleum.”




1955

FORD
The physicist Gilbert Plass joined the advanced research staff at the Aeronutronic division of the Ford Motor Company. In 1960, he became manager of the research lab at Ford's theoretical physics department. Gilbert Plass published a series of eye-grabbing pieces on climate, including a 1956 article published in the magazine American Scientist titled “Carbon Dioxide and the Climate” and in a paper in the journal Tellus titled “The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change.”



1957

EXXON
Humble Oil (now Exxon) scientists, led by H.R. Brannon, published a report that not only acknowledges the increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 but also recognizes the clear contribution of fossil fuels to this rise. Humble’s researchers studied the fingerprints of fossil fuel emissions in the wood of growing trees. Humble Oil and Refining Co. was an American oil company founded in 1911 in Humble, Texas. In 1919, a 50% share in Humble was acquired by Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon), after the fall of John D. Rockefeller's empire.

The New York Times quotes CIEL director Carroll Muffett on the stunning implications of these documents: “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.




1958

SHELL
Charles Jones identified himself as both the executive secretary of the Smoke and Fumes Committee as well as an executive with Shell. In a document, Jones reported that the Committee was funding a study at Truesdail Laboratories to “determine the amount of carbon of fossil origin” in the atmosphere.

In a presentation on behalf of the Smoke and Fumes Committee to the government-convened National Conference on Air Pollution later that same year, Jones stated: “The petroleum industry supplies the fuel used by the automobile, and thus has a sincere interest in the solution to the problem of pollution from automobile exhaust. The stated objective of the Smoke and Fumes Committee of the American Petroleum Institute is to determine the causes and methods of control of objectionable atmospheric pollution resulting from the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, and use of petroleum and its products.”



1959
November 4
API
Physicist Edward Teller spoke about global warming that could melt the ice caps and submerge coastal cities at an oil industry symposium organized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the symposium called “Energy and Man” at the Columbia Graduate School of Business to commemorate the centennial of the oil industry in the United States. Over 300 government officials, economists, historians, scientists, and industry executives were present for Dr. Teller’s talk. He was a guest of honor for a grand occasion: the centennial of the American oil industry.

Edward Teller, on November 4th, 1959, addressed the crowd in his presentation “Energy Patterns of the Future,” and his words carried a warning: “Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [...] Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [...] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 percent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the ice cap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.”




1961

OPEC
Because of the Anglo-American dominance in the oil economy, in 1961, The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed, initially by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, and Venezuela to protect the sovereignty of each country’s natural resources. It has since included Algeria, Angola, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Reference document:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPEC


1962

SHELL
Shell’s chief geologist, Houston-based Marion King Hubbert, produced a book-length report on energy for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that explicitly warned of the risks human-induced global warming could pose to earth’s weather and “ecological balances”.

Shell geologist Marion King Hubbert explicitly warned about the risks of man-made climate change, writing: “There is evidence that the increasing use of the fossil fuels [...] is contaminating the earth’s atmosphere with CO2. [...] it is possible that this is already producing a secular climatic change in the direction of higher average temperatures.”



1963

WHITE HOUSE
The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the United States' primary federal air quality law, intended to reduce and control air pollution nationwide. Initially enacted in 1963 and amended many times since, it is one of the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws.

The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first federal legislation to permit the U.S. federal government to take direct action to control air pollution. It extended the 1955 research program, encouraging cooperative state, local, and federal action to reduce air pollution.



1965
November 5
WHITE HOUSE
U.S. president Lyndon Johnson tells Congress: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.” In 1965 scientific advisors warned president Johnson about climate change with a report by the Science Advisory Committee. The report contained an entire section discussing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, which is described as “the invisible pollutant.”

President Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee found that “pollutants have altered on a global scale the carbon dioxide content of the air” and “man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment” by burning fossil fuels that are injecting CO2 into the atmosphere. The committee concludes that by the year 2000, we could see “measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate, and will almost certainly cause significant changes in the temperature and other properties of the stratosphere.”




1965

API
In a speech by the president of American Petroleum Institute (API), Frank Ikard, at a major oil industry conference, he described federal research into climate change spurred by fossil fuels, saying: “The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.” He outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute President Frank Ikard stated that “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”




1966
August
COAL INDUSTRY
In the industry publication Mining Congress Journal, James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc. stated “changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar ice caps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London” as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels, and particularly the use of coal.

James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc., a now-defunct coal mining and processing research organization wrote: “There is evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels,” and “If the future rate of increase continues as it is at the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2 envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the earth will result”, and in particular Garvey wrote “such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar ice caps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London.”



1966

SHELL
On behalf of Shell, the British scientist and chemist James Lovelock conducted climate research during this period into the potential global consequences of air pollution caused by fossil fuels. The title of his report was “Combustion of Fossil Fuels: Large Scale Atmospheric Effects”. In an unpublished essay written in 1966, Lovelock predicted that in the most likely scenario would see the world struck by an ecological disaster in the year 2000. Shell kept the results secret, asking Lovelock not to discuss them with ‘non-Shell people'.

Chemist James Lovelock wrote in his essay “Some thoughts on the year 2000” commissioned by Shell: “The most probable of all curbs is the threat of an ecological disaster. That could most probably arise through the accumulation of harmful waste products.” His conclusion: “What seems to be important is [...] the almost certain fact that the climate is worsening and the probability that the combustion of fuel is responsible.”



1967

UN
The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) launched the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) to better understand the behavior of the atmosphere and the physical basis of climate. The World Meteorological Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, climatology, hydrology and geophysics.

The aim of the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) was to improve the models used for weather forecasting, but eventually it would be drawn into the climate issue. In 1967, a study by S. Manabe and R.T. Wetherald of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton, had noted that a doubling of the CO2 content of the atmosphere would lead to an increase in global mean temperature of 2°C.



1967

API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) protested against a bill to promote the development of electric cars with the argument that governments should “stimulate all efforts by industry to eliminate automotive pollution, rather than dedicate federal funds to the promotion of any single possible solution.”



1968
February 1
API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) commissioned a report finding that: “Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes.” The research was written by Elmer Robinson and Bob Robbins, well known scientists at the Stanford Research Institute, known as SRI.

The paper commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and written by Elmer Robinson and Bob Robbins found that: “Although there are other possible sources for the additional CO2 now being observed in the atmosphere, none seems to fit the presently observed situation as well as the fossil fuel emanation theory” and “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes” concluding that “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.” This paper – along with a follow-up that Robinson and Robbins produced in 1969 – is playing a key role in a wave of lawsuits seeking to hold oil companies accountable for climate change. The 1969 paper cited models predicting atmospheric CO2 would reach 370 parts per million by 2000 – astonishingly close to the actual reading.




1970
January 1
WHITE HOUSE
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. It promotes the enhancement of the environment and established the President's Council on Environmental Quality.



1970

SHELL
Shell appeared to accept responsibility for harms caused by its products in an industry journal article. The Dutch trade publication Chemisch Weekblad (Chemical Weekly) published research into “chemistry and ethics” which included the results of interviews with executives of Shell who admitted responsibility for “annoying consequences” from global warming.

Representatives from Shell appeared to acknowledge that the company bore some responsibility for the problems that its products would cause, stating that: “If a product is used, as indicated by Shell, and annoying consequences nevertheless arise, Shell feels partly responsible.”




1970

ENI
A report by the Italian oil company ENI’s Isvet research center warned of the “catastrophic” risks from the build-up of carbon dioxide, CO2. The report made clear that left unchecked, rising fossil fuel use could lead to a climate crisis within just a few decades.

The study commissioned by ENI between 1969 and 1970 made clear that left unchecked, rising fossil fuel use would lead to a climate crisis within just a few decades with “catastrophic” risks. Despite knowing about the risks of its products since 1970, ENI, Italy’s largest multinational company and one of seven “supermajor” oil firms in the world, used “lobbying and greenwashing” to push for more fossil fuels.




1971

TOTAL
An internal magazine by the major French oil company Total explained that burning fossil fuels caused the release of “enormous amounts of carbon dioxide” in the atmosphere, the consequences of which were potentially “catastrophic”. However the company, now rebranded as TotalEnergies, promoted doubt regarding the scientific basis for global warming by the late 1980s.

The article in the magazine Total Information mentioned that “since the 19th century, humans have been burning increasing amounts of fossil fuels. This results in the release of enormous quantities of carbon dioxide. […] The overall amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, therefore, has increased significantly. […] The increase has been around 15% over the last 150 years, which is not negligible. […] If the consumption of coal and oil keeps the same rhythm in the years to come, the concentration of carbon dioxide will reach 400 parts per million around 2010.”




1971

WHITE HOUSE
Richard Nixon, president of the United States, imposed a price ceiling on oil in 1971 as demand for oil was increasing and production was declining, which increased dependence on foreign oil imports as consumption was bolstered by low prices. In 1973, Nixon announced the end of the quota system.



1973

ENI
The Italian oil company ENI studied pollution problems with its company Tecneco, formed in Rome in 1971. A report by Tecneco from 1973 predicted that human activities could “gradually cause the disappearance of all life on earth.” Another section of the report stated that the “increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is considered a potential cause of climate change.”

The report on the company Tecneco by ENI mentioned that “this increase in concentration is quite worrying […] carbon dioxide plays a large role in the thermal balance of the atmosphere […] air richer in carbon dioxide absorbs more radiation and heats up. It is possible, therefore, that an increase in the average temperature of the atmosphere is to be feared. The calculated orders of magnitude are obviously small (from 1-1.5 °C) but could have important impacts. Atmospheric circulation could be modified, and it is not impossible, according to some, to foresee at least a partial melting of the polar ice caps, which would certainly result in significant sea level rise. The catastrophic consequences are easy to imagine.”




1973

WHITE HOUSE
After the international 1973 Oil Crisis, the petrodollar system was created through a deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. As a result, other countries in the Middle East agreed to price and trade oil in U.S. dollars, so any country that purchased oil from Saudi Arabia would have to use dollars. The 1973 agreement was initiated by Richard Nixon, President of the United States, and the petrodollar is still in place today, making the U.S. dominant in global oil trade.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to resupply the Israeli military and gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. The spark of the embargo was the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.



1974

CHEVRON
Chevron obtained a patent for a method and apparatus for reducing ice forces on a marine structure prone to being frozen in ice through natural weather conditions, allowing for drilling in previously unreachable Arctic areas that would become seasonally accessible. In 1973 Exxon obtained a patent for a cargo ship capable of breaking through sea ice thanks to warmer temperatures. Shell obtained a patent similar to Texaco’s in 1984.



1974

FORD
A Ford Foundation study drew the clear conclusion that global warming would become a major problem. In said scenario, the authors warned about the “complete melting of Arctic sea ice” and “widespread disruption of agriculture” as well as a rise in sea levels of “more than twenty feet (6m)”. According to the authors, a possible solution would be a “zero energy growth” policy, which would make moving away from fossil fuels inevitable.

An investigation by E&E News revealed that scientists working at two of the largest American automakers had knowledge as far back as the 1960s that car emissions contributed to climate change. However the political lobbying by the two car giants Ford and General Motors undermined global attempts to reduce emissions while stalling U.S. efforts to make vehicles cleaner.




1975

GM
Ruth Annette Gabriel Reck, a researcher at the General Motors Research Laboratories was allowed by the executives to publish her findings on climate change, including a paper in Science, where she asserted that aerosols caused “heating of the atmosphere near the poles.” Reck left the automaker in 1992 after she was allegedly told to stop researching environmental issues.



1975

API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) opposed an energy saving bill that included refundable income tax credits for heat pumps in homes. “The United States has a large resource base of conventional energy such as oil, gas and coal,” it said. “Expeditious development of these supplies can make a significant contribution not only to improving U.S. energy independence, but to create a healthy economy.”



1975

SHELL
A study partially funded and commissioned by Shell, stated that “increases in the CO2 content of the atmosphere could lead to the so-called greenhouse effect [...] due to fossil fuel waste disposal [...] which would be enough to induce major climatic changes.” Three years later, another report warned that “the continued burning of fossil fuels will lead to a manifold increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration.”



1977
July
EXXON
Senior scientist James Black, top technical expert in Exxon’s Research & Engineering division, delivered a sobering message to Exxon’s Management Committee. He stated: “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels”. At the meeting at Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, Exxon’s leaders received this blunt assessment well before the climate crisis had become widely recognized.



1978
June 6
EXXON
A year after Exxon's Science Advisor, James Black, had warned the company’s Management Committee about the dangers of climatic changes, he released an updated version of his presentation to a broader audience. He warned that a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere could increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, and by as much as 10 degrees Celsius at the poles. Rainfall might become heavier in some regions, while other places could turn into deserts.

James Black said, in the written summary of his talk, “some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.” Black estimated that quick action was needed. “Present thinking,” he wrote in the summary, “holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”




1978
September 17
WHITE HOUSE
Congress passes the National Climate Policy Act to help “the Nation and the world to understand and respond to natural and man-induced climate processes and their implications.”

Introduced in the U.S. Congress's House in 1976, the National Climate Program Act “directs the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate the establishment and operation of a Federal climate program for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data concerning climatic states and the influence of man's activities on climatic dynamics.”

Reference document:
National Climate Program Act 94th Congress (1975-1976).



1978
December 7
EXXON
Exxon scientist Henry Shaw proposed that the company initiate a comprehensive research program “to assess the possible impact of the greenhouse effect on Exxon business.” He argued that the company needed “a credible scientific team that can critically evaluate the information generated on the subject and be able to carry bad news, if any, to the corporation.”



1978

ENI
The Italian oil company ENI published a study by its company Tecneco, stating that: “Carbon dioxide, CO2, is the ultimate oxidation product of fossil fuels [...] it exists in air in concentrations of about 300 ppm and only human activity increases this value by interfering with natural processes, so that above a certain threshold it becomes a pollutant.”

The report by Tecneco of ENI warned that continued production and use of fossil fuels would “alter the heat balance of the atmosphere, leading to climatic change with serious consequences for the biosphere.” Another section predicted that “climatic changes may occur on a regional scale due to the continued, increasing consumption of fossil fuels, and this may become a major problem by the end of the century [...] the best available data indicate that the CO2 content of the atmosphere will reach 375-400 ppm in the year 2000; this would increase the temperature of the atmosphere by 0.5 °C.” ENI’s prediction was quite accurate: global warming in the year 2000 was exactly 0.5 °C and CO2 concentrations were around 370 ppm.




1979
February 12
UN
The first “World Climate Conference” organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) expressed concern that “continued expansion of man’s activities on earth may cause significant extended regional and even global changes of climate.” It called for “global cooperation to explore the possible future course of global climate and to take this new understanding into account in planning for the future development of human society.”

The chair of the World Climate Conference warned that the “growing dependence” on coal could well become “the most serious threat to the world’s climate.” In the same year, 1979, a group of American climate scientists published the famous Charney report, which is considered a milestone in climate science for its accuracy in projecting the rate at which human-induced increases in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 would cause global temperatures to rise.




1979
August 8
EXXON
Exxon started research on how much CO2 the ocean can absorb. The experiment began on August 8, 1979, with a state-of-the-art lab aboard the Esso Atlantic, one of the biggest supertankers of the time. Exxon's plan was to gather atmospheric and oceanic CO2 samples from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf.

David Shaw, main researcher on the supertanker Esso Atlantic project, said in an interview: “Our goal was to complete the carbon cycle to understand where global carbon production would end up and then make forecasts of how the system would react in the future.”



1979
October 16
EXXON
An Exxon internal study finds that “The present trend of fossil fuel consumption will cause dramatic environmental effects before the year 2050. [...] Recognizing the uncertainty, there is a possibility that an atmospheric CO2 buildup will cause adverse environmental effects in enough areas of the world to consider limiting the future use of fossil fuels as major energy sources.” and that “The potential problem is great and urgent.”

David Shaw wrote in a November 1979 letter to senior vice president George T. Piercy that the research “could well influence Exxon’s view about the long-term attractiveness of coal and synthetics relative to nuclear and solar energy” in a another memo he wrote, “it behooves us to start a very aggressive defensive program in the indicated areas of atmospheric science and climate because there is a good probability that legislation affecting our business will be passed.”

Reference document:
“Controlling the CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere,” Study by Exxon Employee Steve Knisely.



1980
February 29
API
Dr. J. Laurman told the American Petroleum Institute (API)'s Climate Task Force that “there is a scientific consensus on the potential for large future climatic response to increased CO2 levels” and that “remedial actions will take a long time to become effective.”



1980
July
API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) published the booklet “Two Energy Futures: A National Choice for the 80s” in which the industry acknowledged that carbon dioxide was a “pollutant,” but cast doubt on the role of CO2 in global warming by misrepresenting what prominent scientists said at the time.

Reference document:
“Two Energy Futures: A National Choice for the 80s.” by the American Petroleum Inst., Washington, DC. ISBN: ISBN-0-89364-050-6.


1980
August 6
IMPERIAL OIL
An internal review by Imperial Oil, an Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, which was distributed widely to Exxon Corporate Managers, found that “it is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels” and that “technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gasses but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.”

The lines appeared in the report “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, mentioning that “it is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels […] There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases in forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”



1981
August 18
EXXON
Exxon Strategic Planning Manager Roger Cohen commented in an internal assessment of CO2 emissions and the greenhouse effect prepared at the request of Senior VP and Director Morey O’Loughlin: “It is very likely that we will unambiguously recognize the threat by the year 2000 because of advances in climate modeling and the beginning of real experimental confirmation of the CO2 effect” adding “whereas I can agree with the statement that our best guess is that observable effects in the year 2030 will be ‘well short of catastrophic’, it is distinctly possible that the Planning Division’s scenario will later produce effects that will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).”



1982
April 1
EXXON
An internal Exxon “CO2 ‘Greenhouse Effect’ Summary” found that “there is concern among some scientific groups that once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible and little could be done to correct the situation in the short term” and that “mitigation of the ‘greenhouse effect’ could require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.”



1982
September 2
EXXON
The Director of Exxon’s Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Laboratory, Roger Cohen, summarized the findings of their research in climate modeling, stating that “over the past several years a clear scientific consensus has emerged regarding the expected climatic effects of increased atmospheric CO2” and “it is generally believed that the first unambiguous CO2-induced temperature increase wiIl not be observable until around the year 2000” adding that “the results of our research are in accord with the scientific consensus on the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on climate.”

Reference document:
Memo from Roger Cohen, Director of Exxon’s Theoretical and Mathematical Science Laboratory, to Exxon Management Including President of Exxon Corporation’s Research and Engineering, E. E. David Jr.


1982
October
EXXON
In a speech, E. E. David Jr., President of Exxon Research and Engineering Company, stated: “It is ironic that the biggest uncertainties about the CO2 buildup are not in predicting what the climate will do, but in predicting what people will do [...] It appears we still have time to generate the wealth and knowledge we will need to invent the transition to a stable energy system.”

Reference document:
“Inventing the Future: Energy and The CO2 ‘Greenhouse’ Effect,” E. E. David Jr. Remarks at the Fourth Annual Ewing Symposium, Tenafly, New Jersey.


1985
March
SHELL
In a journal, T.G. Wilkinson, who worked at the time in the Ecology Section of Shell UK’s Long Term Business Planning Unit, explored the risks posed by “energy-generated pollution.” Wilkinson also considered if a precautionary approach should be adopted to prevent the “potential enormous effects on the world’s climate” considering that “the dilemma therefore remains as to whether to encourage the continued use of fossil fuels with the potential enormous effects on the world’s climate.”

T.G. Wilkinson of Shell wrote that the “burning of fossil fuels which have taken millions of years to form has effectively upset the balance leading to an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere,” adding that “the Greenhouse effect could lead to some melting of the ice cap and a significant change in the climatic pattern throughout the world. Whilst this will cause major adverse changes to some areas, others will benefit.”




1985
October
UN
A meeting in Villach was the culmination of a process in which three international organizations – ICSU, UNEP and WMO – joined forces to bring an issue onto the international policy agenda. The meeting turned out to be the spark that lit the fire that awakened the world’s governments, ultimately leading to the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. In Villach in Austria, the meeting was a small gathering of climate scientists intending to discuss the results of one of the first international assessments of the potential for human-induced climate change.



1985
December 10
WHITE HOUSE
Carl Sagan, a renowned astrophysicist, delivered a compelling and prescient speech to Congress about climate change, stating that “at the present rate, the burning of fossil fuels [...] has a variety of consequences, including redistribution of local climates and, through the melting of glaciers, an increase in global sea level.” He suggested investment in renewable energy by saying “if we don’t do the right thing now, there are very serious problems that our children and grandchildren will have to face.”

Carl Sagan told Congress “at the present rate of the burning of fossil fuels, the present rate of increase of minor infrared absorbing gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere, that there will be a several centigrade degree temperature increase on the Earth’s global average by the middle to the end of the next century. And that has a variety of consequences, including redistribution of local climates and, through the melting of glaciers, an increase in global sea level. There is concern on a somewhat longer time scale about the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet and a general rise of many meters in sea level.” He adds “what can be done about it? The idea that we should immediately stop burning fossil fuel has such severe economic consequences that no one, of course, will take it seriously. But there are many other things that can be done. One has to do with subsidies for fossil fuels. More efficient use could be encouraged by fewer government subsidies. [...] Secondly, there are alternative energy sources, some of which are useful, at least locally. Solar power is certainly one that might be of more general use.”




1985
December 22
NEW YORK TIMES
The first Op-Ed on The New York Times by Mobil Oil appeared in December 1985, and it was published regularly for 15 years until 2000. This form of subtle advertising was created for the first time for Mobil Oil. 'Op-Ed' means advertising on the page opposite the editorial page and it was initiated by Herbert Schmertz as a Mobil Oil executive, also known as the man who invented 'Modern PR'.

In a briefing called “Corporations and the First Amendment” that Schmertz wrote for the American Management Association in 1978, he explained why he chose the New York Times for those ads. He stated: “The Times was chosen because it is published in the nation’s leading population, communications and business center; because it has a highly intelligent, vocal, sophisticated readership and because it reaches legislators and other government officials. In short, it was the paper most likely to reach the largest number of opinion leaders and decision makers.” Schmertz also talked about the program as a great success, concluding “Mobil found that the medium worked.”




1987

SHELL
Shell’s growing understanding of the risks posed by burning its products appeared in the publication “Air Pollution: an Oil Industry Perspective.” The authors of the internal Shell publication wrote that “it is feared that a further rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could lead to a higher average surface temperature on Earth, which could have far-reaching environmental, social and economic consequences,” adding that “a lot of scientific research is being done to determine which climatic changes can occur and which measures should be taken.”




1988
June 23
WHITE HOUSE
Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, warned the Congress that the Institute’s greenhouse effect research showed that “the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship with the greenhouse effect.” James Hansen and other experts testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the impact of global warming.

Dr. James Hansen, climatologist at NASA, stated that “altogether, this evidence represents a very strong case, in my opinion, that the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”




1988
June 24
NEW YORK TIMES
On the frontpage of the New York Times in 1988, the headline announced “Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate”, when Nasa climatologist James Hansen warned the U.S. Congress that the greenhouse effect was causing global warming.

On the front page of The New York Times, the article mentioned that “The earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution, a space agency scientist reported today” adding that “by burning of fossil fuels and other activities, have altered the global climate in a manner that will affect life on earth for centuries to come.”



1988

WHITE HOUSE
The U.S. Congress introduced the National Energy Policy Act in an effort to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gasses and at least four bipartisan bills were introduced in Congress, three championed by Republicans, to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Energy Policy Act of 1988 “establishes as national goals: that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere be reduced from 1988 levels by at least 20 percent by the year 2000 through a mix of Federal and State energy policies; and the establishment of an International Global Agreement on the Atmosphere by 1992.”



1988

SHELL
In an internal study marked 'Confidential', called “The Greenhouse Effect”, the company warned about the dire consequences: “The environment may be degraded to such an extent that some parts of earth will become uninhabitable.” Shell researchers noted that “the main cause of increasing CO2 concentrations is considered to be fossil fuel burning.” It also reveals an internal Shell climate science program dating back to 1981.

The document stated that “with very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then to begin doing anything,” adding that “the potential implications for the world are, however, so large, that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”



1988
August 3
EXXON
The Exxon Public Affairs Manager, Joseph Carlson writes that Exxon’s position should be to “emphasize the uncertainty in scientific conclusions regarding the potential enhanced Greenhouse Effect.” This was one of the first evidence of strategies of denial by Exxon and other fossil fuel companies.

Reference document:
“The Greenhouse Effect,” Draft Written By Joseph M. Carlson.


1988
August 31
WHITE HOUSE
Vice President George H.W. Bush (Sr.), in a speech while running for President, said “those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect forget about the ‘White House effect’; as President, I intend to do something about it.”



1988
November 20
WHITE HOUSE
The U.S. Congress introduced the National Energy Policy Act in an effort to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gasses, as it “establishes as national goals: that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere be reduced from 1988 levels by at least 20 percent by the year 2000 through a mix of Federal and State energy policies; and the establishment of an International Global Agreement on the Atmosphere by 1992.”



1988
November 30
MOBIL
Mobil Oil President Richard F. Tucker cited the “Greenhouse Effect” in a list of serious environmental challenges during a speech at an American Institute of Chemical Engineers national conference. In the speech (it was subsequently submitted as testimony to Congress) Tucker mentioned that action to address the greenhouse effect might require “a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels”.

Mobil Oil's President stated: “Our strategy must be to reduce pollution before it is ever generated – to prevent problems at the source,” adding “that will involve working at the edge of scientific knowledge and developing new technology at every scale on the engineering spectrum. [...] Prevention on a global scale may even require a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels – and a shift toward solar, hydrogen, and safe nuclear power. It may be possible – just possible – that the energy industry will transform itself so completely that observers will declare it a new industry.”




1988
December 6
UN
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is formed in December 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.



1988

ENI
An issue of the Italian oil company ENI’s corporate magazine Ecos – widely read by employees and executives – warned that continued use of “fossil sources” of energy would produce a “greenhouse effect that could lead to climate change with devastating effects on the entire earth’s ecosystem.”

Another issue of ENI’s corporate magazine Ecos, from the same year, stated that as research on global warming continued, “it is incumbent on us to work as of now, as far as possible, to contain the phenomenon of carbon dioxide emissions. [...] It is generally agreed that it is very important to ‘buy time’ so as to refine the complex prediction models and identify the most appropriate solutions. Buying time means limiting the increase in CO2 as far as possible.”




1989

GCC
Fifty U.S. corporations and trade groups created the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to discredit climate science and derail regulations. Its founding members included API, BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco, Mobil Oil, Edison, as well as GM and Ford. Until it disbanded in 2002, GCC conducted a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to undermine national and international efforts to address global warming.



1989

MARSHALL INSTITUTE
The George C. Marshall Institute’s “Climate Change Policy” program started in 1989 in Berlin as a “critical examination of the scientific basis for global climate change policy.” According to the Marshall Institute, a major part of the program was “communicating the findings to policy makers, the media and the public policy community.” Marshall Institute was part of an effort by fossil fuel companies to scientifically confuse the origins of the greenhouse effect.



1989
April
SHELL
Ged Davis, a Shell executive, warned that “global warming could challenge the very fabric of the world’s ecological and economic systems,” and also foresaw the possible cost for future generations if emissions weren't curbed.

In an excerpt from Shell executive Ged Davis’s contribution to a 1989 report by the OECD wrote “whatever policies are chosen there will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers', and that “two groups who could bear particularly heavy costs will be: Future generations who would have to live with the costs of adaptation, and [...] those in countries yet to industrialize who would face constraints on energy use [...] How should we allocate resources between prevention and adaptation?”




1989
October
SHELL
A confidential study shows that in 1989 the company was discussing the global social consequences of an increase in temperature of “considerably more” than 1.5 degrees that would displace entire populations.

The study mentioned that “the potential refugee problem [...] could be unprecedented. Africans would push into Europe, Chinese into the Soviet Union, Latins into the United States, Indonesians into Australia. Boundaries would count for little – overwhelmed by the numbers. Conflicts would abound. Civilization could prove a fragile thing.” The report warned also that “many species of trees, plants, animals and insects would not be able to move and adapt.”




1989
December 20
SHELL
A New York Times article reported that “In what is considered the first major project that takes account of the changes the greenhouse effect is expected to bring, Shell engineers are designing a huge platform that anticipates rising water in the North Sea by raising the platform from the standard 30 meters – the height now thought necessary to stay above the waves that come in a once-a-century storm – to 31 or 32 meters.”



1989

GM
In a “Public Interest Report”, General Motors’s public relations department portrayed the field of climate science as full of uncertainties. Also in 1989, General Motors and Ford joined the Global Climate Coalition, a group that opposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.



1990

UN
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its First Assessment Report and the UN General Assembly noted the report findings and decided to initiate negotiations for a framework convention on climate change.



1991

SHELL
Shell released a 30-minute educational video warning of climate change’s negative consequences ranging from sea level rise and wetland destruction to “greenhouse refugees.” It concluded that “global warming is not yet certain, but many think that the wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance.”



1991
May
ICE
The Information Council for the Environment (ICE), formed by the coal industry, launches a national climate change science denial campaign with data collection, full-page newspaper ads, radio commercials, a PR tour, and mailers. ICE was formed by and closely linked to fossil fuel companies and trade associations, including the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Fuels Association, and the National Coal Association. One of the vice presidents of the board of directors of the ICE campaign was Fred Palmer, he later bacame the chief executive officer (CEO) of Western Fuels and then senior vice president at Peabody Energy.

An ad aired is emblematic of the tone and content of ICE’s messaging: “Stop panicking! I’m here to tell you that the facts simply don’t jibe with the theory that catastrophic global warming is taking place. Try this fact on for size. Minneapolis has actually gotten colder. So has Albany, New York.” This ad was created by Simmons Advertising, Inc. in 1991. The leaked ICE documents also show that the group planned to particularly target younger, lower-income women with its deceptive messages, noting that: “These women are more receptive than other audience segments to factual information concerning the evidence for global warming. They are likely to be green consumers, to believe the earth is warming, and to think the problem is serious. However, they are also likely to soften their support for federal legislation after hearing new information on global warming.”




1991

KOCH
The Cato Institute is established as a Koch-funded think tank, and held a seminar in Washington called “Global Environmental Crises: Science or Politics?”. This was part of a decades-long effort to cast doubt on the reality of climate change. Koch Petroleum Group was a major refining and chemicals company, owning the largest oil refineries and pipeline networks that transport oil in the United States.

The New Times describes the influence of Koch: “Construction on the Koch political machine began in the 1970s, after Charles Koch took over the family company. The brothers Charles and David began funding and orchestrating a political project to restrain government power in the United States through lobbying, think tanks and political donations. For instance the Americans for Prosperity (AFP), founded in 2004, is a libertarian conservative political advocacy group in the United States affiliated with the Koch brothers.”




1992
June 13
WHITE HOUSE
U.S. president George H.W. Bush (Sr.) signed the The Rio Declaration, which was approved by the United Nations during the Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), by name Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

George H.W. Bush (Sr.), on June 12, 1992, announced the following “We have come to Rio. We've not only seen the concern, we share it. We not only care, we're taking action. We come to Rio with an action plan on climate change. It stresses energy efficiency, cleaner air, reforestation, and new technology. I am happy to report that I have just signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change.” On June 13 he added: “We've signed a climate convention. We've asked others to join us in presenting action plans for the implementation of the climate convention. We've won agreement on forest principles.”




1994

SHELL
Environmental Advisor of Shell, Peter Langcake, published a scientific report outlining “major developments in scientific understanding and the implications for policy formulation” that recognized “the threat of climate change as the environmental concern [...] it has the greatest significance for the fossil fuel industry.”

The report recognized that many of IPCC skeptics “only raise questions or point to uncertainties rather than offer convincing alternative positions.” Despite this observation, Langcake did the same, warning against “no regrets measures” that would be premature, further distort markets, and divert resources from “more pressing needs.”



1995

MOBIL
An Internal document by a team headed by a scientist Leonard S. Bernstein at Mobil Oil, which was distributed to other major fossil fuel companies, unequivocally states: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gasses such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.” The document, which came to light in 2009, was leaked to the New York Times after surfacing in a lawsuit filed by the auto industry against the state of California’s efforts to limit vehicles’ carbon emissions.

Reference document:
“Predicting Future Climate Change: A Primer” by Leonard S. Bernstein and commissioned by the industry group called the Global Climate Coalition. 1995.


1995
December
GCC
The Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a fossil fuel industry group, drafted an internal primer analyzing “contrarian theories” and concluding that they do not “offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change.” However, a publicly distributed version excluded this section while focusing on scientific disagreement and uncertainty by citing some of those same contrarian scientists.

Reference document:
“Predicting Future Climate Change: A Primer,” Global Climate Coalition’s (GCC) Internal Primer Draft, Prepared by GCC’s Science Technical Advisory Committee V. their publicly distributed backgrounder, “Science and Global Climate Change: What Do We Know? What Are The Uncertainties?”


1996

API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) published the book “Reinventing Energy”, which supported climate denial and argued for inaction by reinforcing uncertainty of the science.



1996

EXXON
An eight-page Exxon publication questioned the negative impact the greenhouse effect might have and played up the uncertainty. The introductory statement by Lee Raymond, Exxon’s chairman and CEO, claimed that “scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect global climate.”

Reference document:
“Global Warming: who’s right? Facts about a debate that’s turned up more questions than answers,” Publication from Exxon Corporation.


1997
December 11
WHITE HOUSE
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. Owing to a complex ratification process, it entered into force on 16 February 2005. The Kyoto Protocol was the first major international effort to slow global climate change as an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is the world's only legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse emissions. However, because many major emitters were not part of Kyoto, it only covered about 18% of global emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol is signed at the United Nations in New York by Acting U.N. Ambassador Peter Burleigh, saying “the United States will today sign the Kyoto Protocol, reaffirming its commitment to work with countries around the world to meet the challenge of global warming. [...] The United States signs the protocol in the firm belief that it will serve its environmental, economic and national security goals.”




1998

SHELL
Shell researchers wrote an internal memo about future scenarios that could harm their business. It suggested that a major storm on the East Coast in 2010 could turn public opinion against Shell and other oil and gas conglomerates, including a class-action against them, while pushing governments toward strict environmental regulations and investments in renewable energy.

The prophetic memo by Shell's researchers mentioned that “following the storms, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations brings a class action suit against the U.S. government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done,” the Shell researchers wrote. “A social reaction to the use of fossil fuels grows, and individuals become ‘vigilante environmentalists’ in the same way, a generation earlier, they had become fiercely anti-tobacco. Direct-action campaigns against companies escalate. Young consumers, especially, demand action.” They determined that “only a crisis can lead to a large-scale change in this world.”




1998
April 3
API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) drafts an internal strategy titled “Global Climate Science Communications Plan”, a roadmap memo to develop a multi-million dollar communications and outreach plan to ensure that “climate change becomes a non-issue.” The plan included obstruction, disinformation, spreading doubts in political debates. The API’s Global Climate Science Communications Team consisted of representatives from the fossil fuel industry, trade associations, and public relations firms. At the time, the team’s attention was focused on derailing the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997, and influencing the White House to make sure it would not ratify it in the future.

The Global Science Communications Action Plan stated that “victory will be achieved when [...] uncertainties in climate science become part of the conventional wisdom.” The roadmap identified an array of fossil fuel industry trade associations and front groups, fossil fuel companies, and free-market think tanks to underwrite and execute the plan, including: the American Petroleum Institute and its members, Business Round Table and its members, Edison Electric Institute and its members, Independent Petroleum Association of America and its members, National Mining Association and its members, American Legislative Exchange Council, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, and the Marshall Institute.”




1998

WFA
The Western Fuels Association (WFA) founded the Greening Earth Society in 1997 as a front group to spread misinformation about how increased CO2 is making the Earth greener. On November 13, 1998, the Greening Earth Society released a 30-minute video titled “The Greening of the Planet Earth Continues” at the annual meeting of Basin Electric. The WFA was a not-for-profit fuel supply cooperative providing coal and transportation to utilities in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, and beyond. A 1998 report by the Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research found that the Greening Earth Society and Western Fuels are essentially the same organization.

The misleading campaign stated “expert scientists assert that CO2 is not a pollutant, but a nutrient to life on earth,” and increasing CO2 means “faster plant growth, greater agricultural yields and improved water-use efficiency in plants. Evidence shows a picture of the ongoing industrial evolution of humankind as the greening of planet earth continues.” The video, still promoted by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, “further explores issues addressed in our first video, The Greening of Planet Earth, which has been distributed to more than 30,000 people worldwide.”



1999

KOCH
Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund are established as so-called 'dark money' groups that do not reveal their funders and are known to have supported contrarian research. According to one in-depth study, Donors Trust – which has received millions of dollars from Koch foundations – distributed dozens of millions to groups – including the Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow – that deny the science and impacts of human-caused climate change and the need to cut global warming emissions.



2000
June 1
ALEC
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was a group for industry groups to influence policy makers behind closed doors. In 2000 ALEC launched the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” to legislate for the teaching of climate science denial into school curricula. ALEC donors included General Motors, BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell, and electric utilities Duke Energy, Entergy, and Progress Energy.

Three states pushed the ALEC bill “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” to require teaching climate change denial in schools. As a result, Texas and Louisiana introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. A school board in Los Alamitos, California, passed a measure, identifying climate science as a controversial topic that required special instructional oversight.




2000
March 23
NEW YORK TIMES
ExxonMobil published an ad in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal titled “Unsettled Science.” The ad referenced a scientific paper, published in Science, claiming that the paper disputed that global warming was happening. However, after the ad appeared, the author of the referenced scientific paper, Dr. Lloyd Keigwin, wrote to ExxonMobil charging that the company had inappropriately and selectively used his data and exploited his research for political purposes.

A few months later, the senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Lloyd Keigwin, sent a letter to Exxon’s Peter Altman, summarizing their email and phone conversations regarding Exxon’s misleading use of Keigwin’s study results. The letter accusing Exxon stated that “The sad thing is that a company with the resources of ExxonMobil is exploiting the data for political purposes when they could actually get much better press by supporting research into the role of the ocean in climate change.”




2001
March
WHITE HOUSE
The George W. Bush (Jr.) Administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto that would have required nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Bush claimed that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and did not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations. George W. Bush (Jr.), promised to ratify the Kyoto Protocol during his presidential campaign.



2001
June 20
GCC
Talking points for State Department Undersecretary Paula Dobriansky’s meeting with the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) at API’s headquarters stated that “POTUS rejected Kyoto, in part, based on input from you.” Kyoto Protocol – the international agreement committing participating countries to binding emissions reductions – that had been adopted by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 1997.

The New York Times article titled “Bush, in Reversal, Won't Seek Cut In Emissions of Carbon Dioxide” on March 14, 2001, mentioned “under strong pressure from conservative Republicans and industry groups, President Bush reversed a campaign pledge today and said his administration would not seek to regulate power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists say is a key contributor to global warming.” George W. Bush (Jr.), promised to ratify the Kyoto Protocol during his presidential campaign.

Reference document:
“Your Meeting with Members of the Global Climate Coalition” U.S. Department of State Memo and Talking Points.



2002

ALEC
By adapting fundamental principles, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as a powerful organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives, aggressively opposed climate change regulations for a decade. The ALEC Energy Principles were first adopted by the Natural Resources Task Force in 2002 and amended at the States and Nation Policy Summit on May 16, 2008. According to ALEC.org, the ALEC Energy Principles were amended yet again in April, 2011.

ALEC Energy Principles from 2002 stated that “Global Climate Change is Inevitable. Climate change is a historical phenomenon and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions. [...] ALEC Supports Affordable Fuels that Power Growth. Mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. [...] North America has extremely large reserves of fossil fuels [...] Access to these resources should be expanded to provide America with low-cost and reliable energy [...] barriers limiting the use of and access to public lands must be removed.”




2002
September 26
EXXON
Michael MacCracken, the former director of the National Assessment Coordination Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, wrote to Exxon CEO Lee Raymond in response to ExxonMobil’s criticism of a U.S. climate change assessment: “In my earlier experience, arguing for study of adaptation had been a position of industry, but now when this was attempted, ExxonMobil argued this was premature. Roughly, this is equivalent to turning your back on the future and putting your head in the sand – with this position, it is no wonder ExxonMobil is the target of environmental and shareholder critics.”

The letter continued: “Certainly, there are uncertainties, but decisions are made under uncertainty all the time – that is what executives are well paid to do. In this case, ExxonMobil is on the wrong side of the international scientific community, the wrong side of the findings of all the world’s leading academies of science, and the wrong side of virtually all of the world’s countries as expressed, without dissent, in the IPCC reports [...] to call ExxonMobil’s position out of the mainstream is thus a gross understatement. There can be all kinds of perspectives about what one might or might not do to start to limit the extent of the change, but to be in opposition to the key scientific findings is rather appalling for such an established and scientific organization.”

Reference document:
Letter from Michael Maccracken, Retiring Senior Scientist from the Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, to Exxon CEO Lee Raymond: “Re: With Regard to the ExxonMobil Facsimile on February 6, 2001 from Dr. Ag Randol To Mr. John Howard of the Council on Environmental Quality”.


2002
October 21
WHITE HOUSE
Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the White House Council of Environmental Quality and a former lawyer and lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute (API) with no scientific credentials, edited a “Draft Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program” to introduce uncertainty about global warming and its impacts. In 2005, Cooney had to resign after being accused of doctoring scientific reports and shortly after he was hired by Exxon.

Reference document:
Markups by Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, on a Draft Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program.


2002
October
API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) carried out its plan to distribute curriculum materials that question the established science through the National Science Teachers Association by maintaining the website “Classroom Energy!”, which offers lesson plans and materials for teachers of kindergarten through high school.

Reference document:
“The Climate Deception Dossiers” Published Jun 29, 2015.


2004

BP
British Petroleum (BP) hired the public relations professionals Ogilvy & Mather to promote the term “carbon footprint”. The company unveiled its “carbon footprint calculator” in 2004, with which everyone could assess how their daily life contributes to CO2 emissions, thereby placing responsibility on citizens. In 2005, in a large advertising campaign Ogilvy popularized the idea of a carbon footprint for individuals.

From 2004 to 2006, a $100m-plus a year BP marketing campaign “introduced the idea of a ‘carbon footprint’ before it was a common buzzword” according to the PR agent in charge of the campaign. The targets of this campaign were the “routine human activities” and “lifestyle choices” of “individuals” and the “average American household”. In 2019, BP ran a new “Know your carbon footprint” campaign on social media. The campaign instructed people to calculate their personal footprints and provided ways for people to “go on a low-carbon diet.”




2006

TIME
The cover of Time magazine featured a photograph of a polar bear perched on floating ice, gazing uncertainty at the surrounding sea, marking 2006 as a watershed moment in the public understanding of climate change. Just before this cover was released, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a mainstream U.S. organization, launched a wide-reaching campaign. Later that spring, Al Gore released the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. Throughout the film, Gore framed global warming in terms of intergenerational ethics.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a TV spot in which its president announced: “Global warming has reached the point where it threatens the world we leave our children and grandchildren. This campaign is a wake-up call about the urgency of the problem.” Partnering with the Ad Council, the nation’s preeminent public service advertising organization, EDF sought a powerful visual symbol to make spectators feel emotionally engaged with the crisis. “We need to jolt people a bit,” one of the ad’s directors explained. “To think that a child today will have to bear the consequences of our apathy in years to come should be shameful and scary. If this doesn’t hit everyone where it hurts, nothing will.”




2007

CHEVRON
Chevron launched its own campaign called “Will You Join Us?”, featuring television, print, outdoor, and online ads. The company framed itself as an environmental leader, global warming as the fault of consumers, and the solution as small changes in consumer behavior rather than a replacement of fossil fuels.

The campaign’s website deflected attention from the company’s role in causing climate change, stating: “Energy conservation and efficiency are seen by many as the most immediate and cost-effective ways for energy users, including the private sector and individual consumers, to reduce their carbon emissions impacts. In the ads, portraits of everyday Americans were emblazoned with messages including: “I will finally get a programmable thermostat”, “I will use less energy”, “I will leave the car at home more”, and “I will replace 3 light bulbs with CFLs”.



2009
August 12
API
For obstructing regulations, the American Petroleum Institute’s CEO, Jack Gerard, emailed API’s membership promising “up front resources” and encouraging turnout for “Energy Citizen” rallies in about 20 states. Gerard said they were “collaborating closely with the allied oil and natural gas associations” in order to “aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. Senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill.”

Reference document:
Email from API CEO Jack Gerard to API’s Membership regarding a series of “Energy Citizen” rallies in 20 States during the end of the Congressional Recess.


2009

WSPA
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a top lobbying and trade association for the oil industry, described in a presentation the “campaigns and coalitions it has activated that have contributed to WSPA’s advocacy goals and continue to respond to aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the West,” including investment“ in several coalitions that are best suited to drive consumer and grassroots messages to regulators and policymakers.” The Sacramento-based WSPA counted among its members BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Occidental, and other major fossil fuel companies. Between 2009 and 2014, WSPA spent more than $26.9 million directly lobbying in California.

WSPA planned to “activate” a “significant number of campaigns and coalitions.” As a presentation explained, WSPA “invested in several coalitions that are best suited to drive consumer and grassroots messages to regulators and policymakers.” Among these fake coalitions were groups such as Fed Up at the Pump, California Drivers Alliance, Californians Against Higher Taxes, and Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy. Members of Congress received forged letters opposing the bill on behalf of fake organizations including National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, American Association of University Women, American Legion, and Jefferson Area Board on Aging. The congressional investigation revealed that the fraud was perpetrated by Bonner and Associates, a lobbying firm subcontracted by a front group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Reference document:
“WSPA Priority Issues” Presentation by Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd.



2011

API
The American Petroleum Institute (API) protested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. It joined a coalition of industry groups to file a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate global warming emissions. The API’s lawsuit challenged the EPA on the grounds of the same doubts about climate science.

The trade group American Petroleum Institute (API) had worked for years to manufacture misinformation, stating that the “EPA professes to be 90–99% certain that anthropogenic emissions are mostly responsible for “unusually high current planetary temperatures, but the record does not remotely support this level of certainty.”



2012

ALEC
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted legislation called the “Electricity Freedom Act,” from a proposal sponsored by the climate change denial group the Heartland Institute. The legislation repealed targets for renewable energy production in place in 29 states. Between 2013 and 2015, some 65 ALEC-sponsored bills introduced in state legislatures were designed to roll back or repeal state standards requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy. ALEC publicly took credit for 13 states adopting resolutions “in opposition to the EPA’s plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”

The “Electricity Freedom Act” stated that: “whereas, many renewable sources of power currently cost more than traditional electricity generation technologies, and are projected to do so for the foreseeable future; [...] Whereas, the costs of renewable energy will be borne by consumers regardless of income or circumstances.”




2013
November 22
ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE
Rick Heede, co-founder and director of the Climate Accountability Institute, authors a peer-reviewed study revealing that 90 producers of oil, natural gas, coal, and cement – the “carbon majors” – are responsible for 63 percent of cumulative industrial CO2 and methane emissions worldwide between 1751 and 2010. The finding also revealed that just 28 companies are responsible for 25 percent of all emissions since 1965.

Reference document:
“Tracing Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide and Methane Emissions to Fossil Fuel and Cement Producers, 1854-2010,” Publication by Rick Heede published In Climatic Change.




WHY SUE THE FOSSIL FIRMS
● THEY LIED
● THEY KNEW
● THEY CAUSED DAMAGE
● THEY DIDN’T INNOVATE
● THEY MISLED THE PUBLIC
● THEY MISLED INVESTORS
● THEY DON’T PAY REPAIRS
● THEY CORRUPT POLITICS
● THEY POLLUTED THE MOST
● THEY MADE RECORD PROFIT


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