(Part One of Three)
Climate Science & Policy Watch is keenly interested in recent developments regarding various investigations into ExxonMobil Corporation, spurred by a growing concern that the company has chronically and grossly misrepresented to its investors and the public the risks it faces as a result of impacts and other factors associated with global climate disruption.
As part of an ongoing investigation of our own, we have reviewed all of the 10-K forms ExxonMobil has submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1993 (the furthest back these forms are available online) to the present, in an effort to better understand how this oil giant has addressed the climate change threat — a threat Exxon itself has been shown to fully grasp going back four decades, despite its rhetoric to the contrary. No doubt, the Attorneys General in New York and California investigating ExxonMobil have tasked their staffs with a similar exercise. These comprehensive, mind-numbingly detailed reports must not only address the financial health of the company and all of its operations, but must also address the full set of risks it faces in the marketplace and in the geographic areas in which it operates. From what we see in the 10-Ks, each over a hundred pages long and requiring, on average, 2,000 hours to complete, Exxon has done a masterful job of hedging its bets, both by omission and commission: omitting mere mention for many years, and then grossly understating, the vast array of direct and indirect risks it faces as a result of climate change. Even worse, Exxon has overtly and flagrantly overstated possible financial and economic risks associated with regulating carbon and other GHGs, both here in the US and in nations around the world.
ExxonMobil has a simple but admittedly very difficult Darwinian choice to make: Will the oil giant continue with the defiant, rosy-scenario, thumbs-up, “bidness”-as-usual approach going forward, or will it continue to feel the heat — politically, socially, economically and quite literally on our warming planet — and eventually, burn.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch an Exxon Tiger by the toe.