The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Strategic CSR - Exxon

The article in the url below contains interesting information about Exxon's knowledge of climate change:
 
"ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm's own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial."
 
What does this support by the firm mean in practice?
 
"Over the years, Exxon spent more than $30m on thinktanks and researchers that promoted climate denial, according to Greenpeace."
 
What is Exxon's position today?
 
"Exxon said [in July] that it now acknowledges the risk of climate change and does not fund climate change denial groups."
 
Oh, the wasted time. The steps we would have needed to take back in the 1980s to put the planet on more of a sustainable footing would have been so much less intrusive than the changes we will have to make in the near future if we stand any chance of holding onto the temperate climate that has sustained the planet and allowed humans to evolve. Oh well, as Ray Anderson noted in his TED talk, posing an answer to his own question of why radical change is necessary:
 
"If not for our species, then perhaps for the one that succeeds us – the sustainable species, living on a finite earth, ethically, happily, and ecologically in balance with nature and all her natural systems, for a thousand generations or ten thousand generations; that is to say, into the indefinite future."
 
In terms of the more immediate consequences of Exxon's past public denials, it seems as though the firm's behavior is finally catching-up with it. Last week, New York's Attorney General issued the firm a subpoena to tell more about what it knew and when, and is shaping a case that mirrors the prosecution of the tobacco companies in the 1990s:
 
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
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Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years
By Suzanne Goldenberg
July 8, 2015
The Guardian