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Global warming

Exxon breaks financial ties to anti-global warming groups

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: global warming, Exxon, emissions standards


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(NewsTarget) Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has cut its funding to a number of anti-global warming groups, and is participating industry talks on the potential regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Exxon spokesperson Mark Boudreaux, the company's position on global warming has been "widely misunderstood."

As a result, Exxon is taking part in talks sponsored by the Washington-based nonprofit organization Resources for the Future. Approximately 20 companies are discussing different options for regulating the emission of greenhouse gases, including whether such rules should primarily target companies or consumers. The talks began in December and aim to conclude in the fall with a report of their recommendations for legislators.

Nongovernmental organizations, including environmental conservation groups, have been excluded from the talks.

Boudreaux also announced that Exxon has stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a nonprofit opposed to government regulation of industry. Last year, CEI ran ads downplaying the risks of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping ("greenhouse") gases have been linked by scientists to global warming.

In addition to CEI, Exxon has stopped funding "five or six" similar groups, according to its vice president for public affairs, Kenneth Cohen. Exxon has not released the names of these groups, nor is it yet clear if other global-warming denying groups are still being funded.

The company's apparent change in position may be linked to the recent change in makeup of Congress. On January 12, a bill was introduced into the Senate that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent a year.

But Peter Fusaro, a carbon markets expert, pointed out that the change may have been spurred by requirements in countries that have ratified the Kyoto protocol, an anti-global warming treaty.

"Multinational companies are under the gun to comply with Kyoto," he said. "It's starting to crystallize that companies can't have dual environmental standards."

According to Andrew Logan, a climate expert at the investor/environmentalist coalition Ceres, how significant a policy change Exxon's actions truly signify has yet to be seen. "The devil is in the details," he said.

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