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October 16, 2021

Fossil fuel industry’s ‘climate deception’ tactics challenged

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US Government House Committee on Oversight and Reform tries to call big oil and its disinformation acolytes to account.

The paper trail is damning. In 2015, a host of internal memos were leaked, subpoenaed or recovered through Freedom of Information laws. They revealed a coordinated campaign by the fossil fuel industry’s most prominent players to distort and discredit the science of climate change.

More than six years later, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform is trying to do something about it.

ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell Oil, American Petroleum Institute, and US Chamber of Commerce executives have again been invited to Washington’s Capitol Hill to explain their behaviour.

They face accusations of ‘a long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming’.

Their testimony is scheduled for 28 October.

‘We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has reaped massive profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, and ravaging the natural world,’ wrote the committee’s chair, Carolyn B Maloney, and the Subcommittee on the Environment chair Ro Khanna, in a formal statement. ‘We are also concerned that to protect those profits, the industry has reportedly led a coordinated effort to spread disinformation to mislead the public and prevent crucial action to address climate change.’

It’s about what they knew, when they knew it – and what they did.

And the US Union of Concerned Scientists is maintaining the pressure.

‘Some of the richest companies in the world have invested in disinformation organisations, they’ve invested in fake experts, they’ve invested in politicians, they’ve invested in people to basically deceive us and tell us that 200 years of science somehow isn’t true,’ says UCS spokeswoman Professor Katharine Hayhoe.

That investment reportedly amounted to some $US1 billion between 2015 and 2018 alone.

Read more: The decline of truth

‘Even today, industry trade groups and associations spread disinformation on climate change, while corporate lobbyists influence politicians and regulators – all with the financial backing and support of major fossil fuel companies,’ the USC says.

It also warns a new tool has appeared in the fossil fuel lobby’s arsenal – greenwashing.

‘Despite their advertisements touting renewable energy, none of the major oil, gas, and coal companies have meaningfully contributed to climate change solutions. They certainly haven’t updated their business plans to reflect climate realities.’


This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Jamie Seidel. Jamie Seidel is a freelance journalist based in Adelaide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. A well overdue Govt enquiry looking into the lies spread by fossil fuel companies over the decades. WE KNOW WHY THEY DID IT …but nevertheless those CEO’s & apologists for spinning this crap should be held to account. Obviously Scomo WON’T be doing anything similar anytime soon…..it would incriminate him and his fossil fuel partners in crime (other MP’s) and their regular donors from these vile fossil fuel companies. Do any of these unethical individuals have children ? Amazing how human primates can justify any despicable or immoral behaviour. Great work President Biden , now can you PLEASE STOP EXTRADITION orders for Julian Assange our truth teller /local hero and internationally recognised exceptional journalist.

  2. The fossil fuel industry getting a handsome return on its ‘investment’ in Australian politicians. It doesn’t get any better for them when they have President ScamMO fondling his pet black wonder rock on the floor of Parliament as he declares, “This is coal. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you. Its coal”. Then he brought it home with his “gas chose itself” line in giving gas a leg up with his gas-led recovery spruikings. All this as the National Party, which acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil duel industry, at every turn torpedos moves to transition to renewable energy sources.

  3. Intentions are commendable
    Joachim & lindy .. however it beggars belief
    how you two can be so hypocritical regarding what your country could do for you regarding fossil fuel usage .. yet in the
    Next breath enjoy your hydrocarbon life ..
    as though nothing to see here! … we and that would be Australian’s do not need lecturing from” do as i say not as i do”
    individuals … your relentless pontificating
    on the subject of Global Warming is extraordinary really .. if Australia stopped today it would not make One bit of difference to Global Warming and thats a fact..Alan Finkels comments at an enquiry ..
    Can’t believe it..!!! CHINA ?????

  4. yer Barrow let’s hit the accelerator. Much quicker way to reach the cliff
    Do you still smoke, & drink drive? Same lies, same irrationality, same corporate playbook. Gotta be consistent old chap

    • Why talk, you are incapable of listening, and refuse to accept the perilous position we are in. Okay to not be okay? Is that your self-justification for protection of the greed of the status quo? I’m not ok with taxpayer funded fossil fuel subsidies of $11,000 per minute.
      The whole point is that Australia is one of only five major contributors NOT prepared to take action. Yes, major contributor – apart from our per capita emissions being the 4th highest worldwide, we are much like the drug dealer responsible for a local drug epidemic of problem. Get over yourself and think of the good of the planet and the common good, for all nations and all species. Your obstinacy and politics has blinded you to reality. Even your mates in the LNP & Murdoch are finally starting to admit they’ve been lying all these years. Where could we have been if their ignorant supporters had been favour of action for the past 10-20 years instead of stubbornly clinging to their misunderstandings, succumbing to political scare tactics, being too stupid to look past self interest, and read anything other than Murdoch and anti-climate propaganda. The great deception you have fallen for and trumpeted for years is sickening. There are alternatives that do not cost the earth.
      And it’s SEE, not SCEE

  5. N . See
    The debate around Global Warming
    Has been ongoing for the past 50 years
    and very robust as it should be …
    the very individuals that make the most noise are going about there lives like most of us , absolutely reliant on hydrocarbons ..
    N.See your views and opinions are just that
    YOURS !! What is happening worldwide
    This frenzy on doom and gloom predictions
    Is fanciful… if Australia Shutdown today it would not make One bit of difference to Global Warming…
    Alan Finkel leading Scientist on Global Warming.. a expert as suggested by the ABC .
    the ABCs own Michael Rowland admitted
    On News Breakfast that Nuclear with zero
    Emissions has to come into the equation ..
    Why Not ?? “Anyway those are my opinions if you dont like those i have others “

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