EXXON Denial of Climate Change Not Credible

by Duane Nichols on March 31, 2018

Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide and methane

Court Tosses Exxon’s ‘Implausible’ Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Climate Probe

From an Article by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch.com, March 30, 2018

A federal judge on Thursday threw out Exxon Mobil’s lawsuit that sought to derail New York and Massachusetts’ probe into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

Exxon tried to convince U.S. District Court Judge Valerie A. Caproni that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey were infringing on the company’s free speech rights and the AGs were pursuing politically motivated investigations.

But in a searing ruling, Caproni called the company’s claims “implausible” and “a wild stretch of logic.”

“The relief requested by Exxon in this case is extraordinary: Exxon has asked two federal courts—first in Texas, now in New York—to stop state officials from conducting duly-authorized investigations into potential fraud,” she wrote. “It has done so on the basis of extremely thin allegations and speculative inferences.”

Exxon’s allegations rested on statements made at the AGs’ United for Clean Power press conference in March 2016. The company tried to paint Schneiderman and Healey’s participation in the event as a evidence of their political bias against the company.

However, Caproni dismissed that argument, which she considered a result of “cherry-picking snippets from the transcript of the press conference.”

“Some statements made at the press conference were perhaps hyperbolic, but nothing that was said can fairly be read to constitute declaration of a political vendetta against Exxon,” she wrote.

The company’s claims that the AGs “are pursuing bad faith investigations in order to violate Exxon’s constitutional rights are implausible,” the judge continued. She called it a “a wild stretch of logic” for Exxon to contend that the AGs’ comments about public confusion relative to climate change showed any intent to “chill dissenting speech.”

Judge Caproni dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Exxon cannot file it again.

Schneiderman and Healey celebrated the ruling. “I am pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss Exxon’s frivolous, nonsensical lawsuit that wrongfully attempted to thwart a serious state law enforcement investigation into the company,” Schneiderman said.

“At every turn in our investigation, Exxon has tried to distract and deflect from the facts at hand. But we will not be deterred: our securities fraud investigation into Exxon continues.”

Healey said, “Exxon has run a scorched earth campaign to avoid answering our basic questions about the company’s awareness of climate change. Today, a federal judge has thoroughly rejected the company’s obstructionist and meritless arguments to block our investigation.”

“This is a turning point in our investigation and a victory for the people.”

Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri told Reuters the company is evaluating its legal options. “We believe the risk of climate change is real and we want to be part of the solution,” he added. “We’ve invested about $8 billion on energy efficiency and low-emission technologies such as carbon capture and next generation biofuels.”

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Lorraine Chow March 31, 2018 at 4:39 pm

20,000 Scientists Have Now Signed ‘Warning to Humanity’

From Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch.com, March 9, 2018

The article, ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’ has been co-signed by 20,000 scientists around the world.

A chilling research paper warning about the fate of humanity has received 4,500 additional signatures and endorsements from scientists since it was first released last year.

The paper—”World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”—was published in November 2017 in the journal Bioscience and quickly received the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with roughly 15,000 signatories from 184 countries.

To date, the article has collected 20,000 expert endorsements and/or co-signatories, and more are encouraged to add their names.

The “Warning” became one of the most widely discussed research papers in the world. It currently ranks 6th out of 9 million papers on the Altmetric scale, which tracks attention to research. It has also inspired pleas from political leaders from Israel to Canada.

“Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public,” said lead author ecology professor William Ripple at Oregon State University in a statement.

The 2017 paper is actually an update to the original version published 25 years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It was signed by 1,700 scientists then, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences.

The first notice started with this statement: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It described trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishing, deforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.

Unfortunately, the authors of the updated paper said that humanity failed to progress on most of the measures and ominously warned, “time is running out.”

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, the paper stated.

The authors concluded that urgent measures are necessary to avoid disaster. They called upon everyday citizens to urge their leaders to “take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life.”

This week, three letters in comment and a response companion piece by the “Warning” authors was published in BioScience.

The response piece, “Role of Scientists’ Warning in shifting policy from growth to conservation economy,” includes two key areas for action in policy and science, from introducing a Nobel Prize in Economics for incorporating the limits of the biosphere to introducing a global price on carbon.

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Friends of the Earth April 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Shell Faces Historic Legal Action in Netherlands for Failure to Act on Climate Change

From The Friends of the Earth, April 04, 2018

Friends of the Earth Netherlands announced Wednesday that it will take Shell to court if it does not act on demands to stop its destruction of the climate.

“Shell is among the ten biggest climate polluters worldwide,” said Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. “It has known for over 30 years that it is causing dangerous climate change, but continues to extract oil and gas and invests billions in the search and development of new fossil fuels.”

The case is supported by Friends of the Earth International, which campaigns for climate justice for people across the world impacted by dirty energy and climate change. Friends of the Earth International has 75 member groups globally, many of them working to stop Shell extracting fossil fuels in their country.

“This case matters for people everywhere,” said Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International. “Shell is doing enormous damage worldwide—climate change and dirty energy have devastating impacts around the world, but especially in the global South. With this lawsuit we have a chance to hold Shell to account.”

Friends of the Earth Netherlands’ case is part of a growing global movement to hold companies to account for their contribution to dangerous climate change. In January, the city of New York went to court to claim compensation from the five largest oil companies, including Shell, for the consequences of climate change.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland as well as several other counties in California are doing the same. A Peruvian farmer is suing the German energy company RWE for its contribution to glaciers melting above his village caused by climate change. The Friends of the Earth Netherlands case is unique because it is the first climate lawsuit demanding that a fossil fuel company acts on climate change, rather than seeking compensation.

This ground-breaking case, if successful, would significantly limit Shell’s investments in oil and gas globally by requiring them to comply with climate-targets.

Nansen added, “If we win this case, it has major consequences for other fossil companies, and opens the door for further legal action against other climate polluters. Friends of the Earth International wants to see binding rules for corporations like Shell who so often regard themselves as being above the law, including when it comes to climate goals.”

Source: https://www.ecowatch.com/shell-climate-change-lawsuit-2556191673.html/

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Karen Savage September 12, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Judge orders more Exxon disclosures in New York climate probe

From an Article by Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, August 30, 2018

A New York Supreme Court judge said Exxon must hand over financial spreadsheets and answer questions from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who is investigating whether the oil giant deceived its shareholders about the risks of climate change.

The ruling was handed down by Judge Barry Ostrager in New York Supreme Court Wednesday after a hearing on a motion by the state to compel Exxon to comply with investigatory subpoenas issued by the New York attorney general’s office. Ostrager gave the company 30 days to turn over some of the documents; others he said the company must answer investigators’ questions about, because Exxon argued it would be burdensome to turn over all of them.

Ostrager made it clear he wants the investigation to conclude quickly instead of dragging on indefinitely.

The first subpoena was issued in 2015 as part of an investigation by Eric Schneiderman, then New York’s attorney general, into possible shareholder deception by Exxon. Last year, Schneiderman issued a second subpoena.

Underwood took up what Schneiderman started after she she replaced him in May him and, like Schneiderman, Underwood contends that Exxon is dragging its feet and has not fully complied with the subpoenas. Her office filed a filed a motion in June to compel compliance with the subpoenas

Attorneys for Exxon, which has accused the attorney general’s office of conducting a politically motivated investigation, argue they have complied with the investigation.

Documents already turned over have revealed several “smoking guns,” according to Manisha M. Sheth, New York’s executive deputy attorney general.

Investigators have previously asserted that Exxon used two sets of figures—or proxy costs— to determine how future climate risks will impact the company’s bottom line, one for internal use and another that was shared publicly.

At the hearing, Sheth presented the court with internal Exxon emails written by corporate greenhouse gas manager Bob Bailes that she said confirms that assertion. Also included is a 2011 email indicating Exxon considered reconciling the two proxy costs, but decided not to because “Rex has seemed happy with the difference previously,” referring to former chief executive Rex Tillerson.

The attorney general’s office announced last year it had discovered that Tillerson had used a second, incognito email in the name of “Wayne Tracker” while at the helm of the company. When the investigators asked for those emails to be turned over, the company said many had been permanently deleted.

Sheth also presented emails from 2016 that show that Bailes “effectively admitted Exxon misled investors” and the company “used ‘alternate methodology’ to avoid ‘massive [greenhouse gas] costs.” The emails also disclosed the use of “legislative” costs to avoid large write-downs in the value of Exxon assets.

Ostrager granted the demand by Underwood’s office that Exxon turn over cash flow spreadsheets used by the company to make investment decisions and documents the company provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its evaluation of asset depreciation, reserves calculations and climate change.

Exxon has maintained that it did not conceal climate-related risks. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Ostrager’s ruling.

In July, more than a hundred environmental, faith and community groups signed a letter supporting Underwood in her continuing investigation.

“While Judge Keenan may have dismissed New York City’s lawsuit, he didn’t dismiss the reckless actions of these companies,” said Mae Boeve, executive director of 350.org, referring to the recent dismissal of New York’s climate suit against five major oil companies.

“From Sandy-like storms and flooded subways to record heat waves, the costs of Exxon’s destruction is being paid for by New Yorkers,” Boeve said.

“Attorney General Underwood’s commitment to continue investigating all that Exxon knew and hid about climate change shows fossil fuel companies can’t shirk the necessary accountability.”

SEE ALSO:

>>> The Ins and Outs of the Exxon Climate Investigation: A Timeline

>>> Massachusetts Investigation of Exxon for Climate Fraud Can Proceed, Court Rules

>>> NY Attorney General Accuses Exxon of Withholding Key Climate Documents

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