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New Evidence Suggests Big Oil Didn’t Borrow Big Tobacco’s Playbook to Lie to the Public About Climate Change—They Actually Wrote It

In a major blow to ExxonMobil, documents reveal that the common tactical playbook is decades older than previously assumed.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/new-evidence-suggests-big-oil-didnt-borrow-big-tobaccos-playbook-lie-public-about

A recent analysis of more than 100 industry documents conducted by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, has revealed that the oil industry knew of the risks its business posed to the global climate decades before originally suspected.

It has also long been assumed that, in its efforts to deceive investors and the public about the negative impact its business has on the environment, Big Oil borrowed Big Tobacco’s so-called tactical “playbook.” But these documents indicate that infamous playbook appears to have actually originated within the oil industry itself.

If that is true, it would be highly significant—and damning for Big Oil—because the tactics used by the tobacco industry to downplay the connection between smoking and cancer were eventually deemed to have violated federal racketeering laws by a federal court. The ruling dashed efforts by Big Tobacco to find legal cover under the First Amendment, which just happens to be the same strategy that ExxonMobil and its GOP allies are currently using to defend the company against allegations of fraud. If the playbook was in fact created by the oil and gas industry and then later used by ExxonMobil, it ruins the company’s argument of plausible deniability, making it highly likely that the company violated federal law.

This latest development is a major blow to Big Oil, which has been trying to rebuff comparisons to the tobacco industry. It also comes as a group of state attorneys general are pursuing an investigation into possible fraud committed by ExxonMobil. The probe, which could ultimately extend to include other oil and gas companies, was launched in November by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has since been joined by 16 other state AGs in a historic national coalition seeking to find out if America’s largest oil company intentionally hid critical climate-related information about their future business from investors and the public.

Environmentalists and corporate accountability advocates have cheered the investigation, contending that ExxonMobil has engaged in a decades-long campaign of climate denial and deception, ultimately delaying action on climate change and putting the planet at risk.

“We began with three simple, related questions,” says Carroll Muffett, president of CIEL, about the recently analyzed documents, which are housed at the tobacco industry document archive at the University of California, San Francisco medical center. “What did they know? When did they know it? And what did they do about it? What we found is that they knew a great deal, and they knew it much earlier and with greater certainty than anyone has recognized or that the industry has admitted.”

Sowing seeds of doubt about climate science

“Big Oil created the organized apparatus of doubt,” Muffett said. “It used the same playbook of misinformation, obfuscation and research laundered through front groups to attack science and sow uncertainty on lead, on smog, and in the early debates on climate change. Big Tobacco used and refined that playbook for decades in its fight to keep us smoking—just as Big Oil is using it now, again, to keep us burning fossil fuels.” To wit: Exxon’s own Corporate Citizenship Report from last year revealed that the company is still funding climate denial groups.

The documents suggest that the tactics in question were developed by the Smoke and Fumes Committee, a group launched 70 years ago by the American Petroleum Institute, the national trade association that represents the U.S. fossil fuel industry, to study oil industry pollution and present its own spin to the public. If that is the case, it appears those same tactics were likely co-opted by the tobacco industry, which was later found guilty of committing fraud following a racketeering lawsuit filed in 1999 by the Department of Justice. The documents reveals that the deceptive actions taken by the oil industry so many decades ago prevented the possibility of early action on climate change—action that may have prevented potentially millions of climate-related deaths across the globe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. The World Health Organization estimates that around 6 million people worldwide die from tobacco-related illnesses. Between 2030 and 2050, WHO estimates that climate change will cause approximately 250,000 deaths per year, from heat stress, malnutrition, malaria and diarrhea. That number does not include the deaths caused by climate-related natural disasters, which have more than tripled since the 1960s, resulting in over 60,000 deaths each year, mainly in developing countries.

Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University is also the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of the American oil giant Standard Oil Company, out of which ExxonMobil was born. Earlier this year, Goodwin decided to divest her shares of ExxonMobil stock and use the proceeds to fight climate change and climate denial. In an interview with AlterNet, she contrasted the impact of tobacco and fossil fuel:

In the large picture … tobacco and fossil fuel emissions are quite different. Tobacco kills people one by one. Climate change will increasingly cause events like hurricanes that will destroy large swathes of property, kill numbers of people, make many homeless. While it can be argued that smoking tobacco is a matter of individual choice, the production and use of fossil fuels is more obviously a social issue. In the long run, producers of fossil fuels will have to lose. The only question is how much the people and ecologies of the world will lose before our economies cease to make the situation worse.

U.N.: Climate change is “irreversible”

While the climate situation can certainly become worse, the actions of ExxonMobil and Big Oil have helped to put the planet on what many scientists are now saying is an unstoppable path. In 2014, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offered a grim assessment: “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” That has left environmentalists not only angry at the oil industry, but also wondering how the narrative might have been different had the industry been honest and open about its early findings.

“It’s increasingly clear that the fossil fuel industry knew a lot more about the causes of climate change—and its effects—much earlier than anyone else,” said Annie Leonard, the executive director of Greenpeace USA, about CIEL’s findings. “It pains me to think how much better shape the planet and vulnerable communities could be in if the fossil fuel industry had taken positive action based on this knowledge instead of trying to profit from it.”

Climate activist Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, has been a long-time critic of the oil and gas industry. “The ongoing revelations about the depth of oil industry research into—and obfuscation of—the greatest crisis humans have ever faced are hard to read; thanks to them, we wasted vital time,” he said in a press statement.

In a CIEL video, Muffett explains how “the world’s most powerful industry used science, communications and consumer psychology to shape the public debate over climate change,” noting “it begins earlier, decades earlier than anyone recognized.” He points out that in 1968, API commissioned a report titled “Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Pollutants,” which revealed rising levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by the combustion of fossil fuel, in the atmosphere. The report’s authors, Elmer Robinson and R.C. Robbins of the Stanford Research Institute, warned of significant climate risks posed by the continued use of fossil fuel. “If the earth’s temperature increases significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans, and an increase in photosynthesis,” they wrote, adding, “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe.”

Notably, Muffett said, is the fact that the report’s authors “recognized that the most important remaining uncertainties were technological: How would we respond and how would we modify our technology to reduce emissions?” Now, nearly half a century later, the question becomes: Why did the oil industry hide this information from the public? Of course, we know the answer to that question: Profits. Instead of responding responsibly to the dire warnings that came with this information by moving the nation’s energy portfolio and infrastructure to a low-carbon future, the oil industry kept on drilling, kept businesses and consumers burning their primary retail products, which continued to pollute the environment and damage the Earth’s climate.

Seventy years of denial and deception

The question for Schneiderman and his fellow state attorneys general is, did ExxonMobil, and possibly other oil companies, intentionally mislead investors, consumer and the public, hiding the damning scientific evidence that their own industry paid to discover? With CIEL’s analysis of industry documents, it appears that Big Oil may be even guiltier than originally suspected, as the group traced the origins of the 1968 API report to a meeting of oil and gas industry executives in Los Angeles more than two decades earlier, in 1946.

That was the year API established the Smoke and Fumes Committee. “Faced with growing public concern about air pollution,” Muffett said, “the industry embarked on what would become a well-funded, carefully coordinated, multi-decade enterprise of funding scientific research and using that research to promote public skepticism of environmental regulations the industry considered hasty, costly and potentially unnecessary.”

One of the tactics used by the oil industry was to delay any climate action that might harm its business by sowing seeds of doubt. “The worst thing that can happen, in many instances, is the hasty passage of a law or laws for the control of a given air pollution situation,” wrote Vance Jenkins, executive secretary of the Smoke and Fumes Committee, in a 1954 trade journal article about smog pollution.

The ties between the oil and tobacco industries run deep. In the 1950s, Monroe J. Rathbone, the president and director of Standard Oil, sat on American Cancer Society’s committee on smoking and public policy. In 1968, Esso Research and Engineering Co., an affiliate of Standard Oil, filed a patent claim for a new type of cigarette filter, made out of polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer that was first synthesized by Phillips Petroleum, an American Oil Company. In 1979, R.G Baker, the chair of British American Tobacco, the second largest tobacco company in the world, also sat on the board of Exxon, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company. In the 1970s, R.J. Reynolds, America’s second-largest tobacco company, diversified into the energy business, acquiring American Independent Oil Company, Burmah Oil and Gas Company and Burmah Oil Development, Inc.

In a CIEL video, Muffett explains the key events that reveal the oil industry didn’t just borrow the tobacco industry’s playbook, but was actually behind behind it all along:

As evidence mounts of the oil industry’s decades-long campaign of climate deception and denial, Exxon and its allies assure us that oil is not the new tobacco. The 14 million documents at the Tobacco Archives prove Exxon right: Oil is not the new tobacco. But six decades ago, tobacco was the new oil. In December 1953, tobacco executives met in a New York hotel room to hatch a plan to confront the rising tide of science linking smoking with cancer. To help craft that plan, tobacco turned to PR firm Hill and Knowlton. Hill and Knowlton, in turn, drew on its long expertise supporting the oil industry. Richard Darrow, the principal architect of tobacco’s strategy, also represented Hill and Knowlton’s biggest oil company clients.

In the years that followed, the tobacco conspirators looked repeatedly to oil industry campaigns on smog, lead and other air pollutants for models, for resources and for people. They turned to Stanford Research Institute, a key player in the oil industry’s “Smoke and Fumes” effort to develop a suitcase-sized testing kit that would sample smoke without attracting attention. They turned to Truesdail Laboratories, which in 1958 was doing the earliest documented climate research for the American Petroleum Institute, and to a former Standard Oil executive who recommended an array of scientists for the tobacco industry’s scientific advisory board, nearly all with proven links to the oil industry and many of whom would go on to work for tobacco.

Suffice it to say, CIEL’s analysis has uncovered the deep and complex relationship between the oil and tobacco industries that goes back many decades, and continues to this day. From advertising campaigns and marketing tactics to PR firms and scientists, the two industries have shared a wealth of information, strategies and human resources. The relationship was formed on mutual dependence, which consistently placed profits above public and environmental health. As Muffett points out, “For Big Tobacco, gas stations were vital retail outlets. For Big Oil, cigarettes were their biggest retail product after gasoline.”

“These documents are the tip of an evidentiary iceberg that demands further investigation,” said Muffett. “Oil companies had an early opportunity to acknowledge climate science and climate risks, and to enable consumers to make informed choices. They chose a different path. The public deserves to know why.”

The investigation continues

ExxonMobil and its allies on Capitol Hill—a coterie of GOP legislators who have received political contributions from the oil industry—have attempted to stop the AGs’ fraud probe by claiming the investigation is a violation of the company’s First Amendment rights.

In June, ExxonMobil filed a complaint in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas, against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who had subpoenaed the company under consumer and securities fraud statutes, in an effort to secure company records going back 40 years. In its lawsuit, which is seeking an injunction to stop Healey’s probe, ExxonMobil said Healey’s investigation is “nothing more than a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives,” adding that the attorney general is “abusing the power of government [and] … has deprived and will continue to deprive ExxonMobil of its rights under the United States Constitution.”

Unfortunately for ExxonMobil, the First Amendment claim has already been discredited. In United States vs Philip Morris Inc., a federal appeals court found that the First Amendment does not protect fraudulent statements. Likewise, Healey’s office has dismissed ExxonMobil’s claims.

“For many months, ExxonMobil has engaged in an unprecedented effort to limit the ability of state attorneys general to investigate fraud and unfair business practices,” said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, Healey’s communications director.

“Our investigation is based not on speculation but on inconsistencies about climate change in Exxon documents which have been made public,” Gonzalez said, and echoing the tobacco lawsuit, added that “the First Amendment does not protect false and misleading statements in the marketplace. Exxon’s assertion that we cannot investigate it because the company has not engaged in business here in Massachusetts is completely preposterous.”

However, a similar battle between ExxonMobil and U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker ended in a ceasefire, as Walker agreed to withdraw a similar subpoena in exchange for ExxonMobil’s withdrawal of its lawsuit against him. Walker’s withdrawal hasn’t been viewed as a setback for the ongoing probe, as legal experts contend that the primary battlefields will be Massachusetts and New York. So far, Exxon is cooperating with New York’s investigation and has already relinquished more than 700,000 pages of documents to Schneiderman’s office.

But 100 or so recently analyzed documents may reveal the true origin of Big Tobacco’s infamous playbook.

Watch CIEL’s “Smoke and Fumes” videos to learn more about its analysis of those documents:

The Unholy Alliance Between Big Oil and Big Tobacco: It’s Been Going On For Decades

http://trofire.com/2016/07/21/the-unholy-alliance-between-big-oil-and-big-tobacco-its-been-going-on-for-decades/

Over the past several months, The Ring of Fire and other Progressive media outlets have reported on how Big Oil (particularly Exxon-Mobil) has been covering up evidence of climate change since the 1970s.

It turns out that the cover up has been going on far longer. In fact, Exxon-Mobil’s corporate ancestor, Humble Oil, was manipulating scientific information in order to influence public opinion as long ago as the 1940s. It’s similar to the way Big Tobacco had been covering its own rear end since medical science started making connection between smoking and lung cancer in the 1930s.

Similarities between the two are no coincidence. Egregiously, these two corporate criminal enterprises were sharing marketing strategies and methods of spreading disinformation for decades.

On the surface, it would appear that Big Oil and Big Tobacco are unlikely corporate bedfellows. But consider that convenience stores represent a major retail outlet for both cigarettes and other tobacco products and gasoline. Since they are a high-markup item, the oil companies that kept cigarette vending machines back in the day were anxious to preserve their profits. It was a textbook case of a symbiotic relationship.

This lurid tale has been uncovered by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Washington D.C.. A short documentary film produced by the organization tells the story of the entangled relationship between Big Oil and Big Tobacco. It is a relationship that dates back more than sixty years.

Back in the 1950s, Monroe Rathbone, head of Standard Oil (another one of Exxon-Mobil’s corporate forebears) was also on the board of the American Cancer Society’s Committee on Smoking and Public Policy. At the same time, oil companies – in which tobacco companies held financial interests and vice-versa – were developing cigarette filters and sharing testing methods. It doesn’t take a genius to see the clear conflicts of interest here, and it doesn’t stop there.

For the past several months, CIEL has been researching more than 14 million documents showing the collusion between Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Earlier this year, CIEL released documents proving that oil company executives, engineers, and scientists were acutely aware of carbon dioxide’s role in global climate change since 1957 – and probably long before that. According to Carrol Muffet, President and CEO of CIEL, instead of exploring options to mitigate environmental damage and come up with alternative energy sources, oil companies decided to “invest in research to explain away the climate risks.”

What is even more unforgivable is that the oil industry had the technology to reduce and eventually eliminate CO2 emissions in 1963! On December 31st of that year, yet another of Exxon-Mobil’s corporate predecessors, Esso, filed Patent #3,116,169 with the U.S. Patent Office for “Fuel Cell and Fuel Electrodes.” The device was a catalyst, using oxygen to produce clean, efficient electrical energy.

Why didn’t oil industry players pursue this technology? Let the Exxon’s own words condemn them:

“THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT INCREASES IN FOSSIL FUEL USAGE AND DECREASES OF FOREST COVER ARE AGGRAVATING THE POTENTIAL PROBLEM OF INCREASED CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE. TECHNOLOGY EXISTS TO REMOVE CO2 FROM STACK GASES BUT REMOVAL OF ONLY 50% OF THE CO2 WOULD DOUBLE THE COST OF POWER GENERATION,” [EMPHASIS ADDED].

It’s simple; It was cheaper and more profitable to keep on drilling. Instead of exploring and investing in ways to mitigate and reverse the massive environmental damage they knew their product was causing, Exxon-Mobil and its partners in crime poured their resources into ways of adapting – new, taller oil rigs, for example, that could withstand rising sea levels, as well as insane and unworkable ideas to control the climate.

One of these ideas – on which Exxon actually filed a patent – was to literally pave over large, dry regions of the planet in order to create heat and increase rainfall. That brilliant idea was developed by one of Exxon’s own scientific advisers, James Black. Black was one of the scientists who warned the industry of the impact of fossil fuels on climate, but his solution was essentially more of the same (of course, what else would he tell the people who signed his paycheck?).

Another great plan was to spray black carbon into the air in order to create winds that would simply blow away the smog. It must not have occurred to the folks at Exxon that even if such an idea was workable, the smog would have to go somewhere. And of course, there was money to made; after all, asphalt is a petroleum product.

Furthermore, while the industry would be internalizing all those profits, they would be able to saddle the rest of us with the costs by getting rid of noxious wastes on the cheap.

Today, we are all paying the price for this insanity.

And how does this all relate to the relationship between Big Oil and Big Tobacco? Basically, it was a marriage of convenience, but hardly a love affair. To be sure, the two shared common financial interests. But there was more to it.

With the increase in the cancer rate in the latter part of the 20th Century, the tobacco and oil industries began pointing fingers at each other. According to Muffet, Big Tobacco had an obsession with Big Oil that “bordered on paranoia.” As the two industries watched each other, they came up with new and creative methods of “plausible denial” and ways to confuse and mislead the public. Between that and the way the industries have bought off lawmakers over the decades, little has been done to address the disastrous consequences to public health.

Now that the evidence has come out and CIEL has released documentation for the world to see, will there be consequences?

In July of 2014, a Florida woman was awarded $23.6 billion in a lawsuit against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds. That was only the most recent victory in a long battle to hold Big Tobacco accountable.

Late last year, the State of New York started a major investigation into Exxon-Mobil’s deception of the public over the climate change issue. As of March, 17 more attorneys general have joined the investigation. Then, this past May, the Massachusetts-based Conservation Law Foundation began legal action against the oil company juggernaut over pollutants leaked into the confluence of the Mystic Island End Rivers from one of its terminals. It is the first lawsuit to link a localized incident to the broader threat of global climate change and the oil industry’s culpability.

Big Oil is a different animal. Not only does it have more resources than big tobacco, it sells a product that runs so much of society’s machinery. Nonetheless, the opening salvos in what promises to be a long, hard battle have been fired. As people wake up to the gargantuan lies that Exxon-Mobil has fed them for over half a century, and as they realize that a “Corporate Person” was willing to put the entire future of humanity at risk for the sake of making a few extra billion dollars, it’s a good bet that the day of reckoning will come.

We can only hope that it comes in time.

Tobacco and Oil Industries Used Same Researchers to Sway Public

As early as the 1950s, the groups shared scientists and publicists to downplay dangers of smoking and climate change

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tobacco-and-oil-industries-used-same-researchers-to-sway-public1/

Organizations worried about climate change have long drawn comparisons between the petroleum and tobacco industries, arguing that each has minimized public health damages of its products to operate unchecked.

Some have urged federal regulators to prosecute oil companies under racketeering charges, as the Department of Justice did in 1999 in a case against Philip Morris and other major tobacco brands.

Oil companies bristle at the comparison. But overlap between both industries existed as early as the 1950s, new research details.

Documents housed at the University of California, San Francisco, and analyzed in recent months by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, show that the oil and tobacco industries have been linked for decades. The files CIEL drew its research from have been public for years.

The unknown author of one memo, who once worked for Standard Oil Co. Inc. of New Jersey, suggested scientists for an advisory committee study the health effects of smoking.

“I am giving below the names of individuals who you might consider as potential members of the Medical Advisory Committee for the tobacco industry, as related to its current medical problem,” the person wrote to a tobacco research board, alluding to building evidence that smoking caused health problems.

Both industries hired public relations company Hill & Knowlton Inc., an influential New York firm, for outreach as early as 1956.

And Theodor Sterling, a mathematics professor known for research on smoking that was favorable to the tobacco industry—Philip Morris paid more than $200,000 in the 1990s for his work—also studied lead in gasoline for Ethyl Corp. in 1962. Ethyl was a joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Standard Oil.

“From the 1950s onward, the oil and tobacco firms were using not only the same PR firms and same research institutes, but many of the same researchers,” CIEL President Carroll Muffett said in a statement.

“Again and again we found both the PR firms and the researchers worked first for oil, then for tobacco,” he said. “It was a pedigree the tobacco companies recognized and sought out.”

CIEL alerted ClimateWire to the existence of the tobacco documents and has been researching for years what the oil industry knew about climate change and what it did in response.

The examination of the tobacco documents has been more recent for CIEL, which calls its project comparing the tobacco and oil industries “Smoke & Fumes.”

The group’s new research is part of a building debate about oil companies’ knowledge over the decades about climate change. It also is part of a push from environmental groups to make the legal case that fossil energy companies have lied for decades about global warming risks, just as tobacco companies lied about the connection between smoking and cancer.

Last week, House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) subpoenaed the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, who are each investigating if Exxon Mobil Corp. misled investors and the public about climate change threats, and several environmental groups (ClimateWire
, July 14).

Smith and his colleagues maintain that the attorneys general colluded with environmentalists in their investigations. They say such probes violate First Amendment protections of free speech.

The Stanford Research Institute link

Another connection between oil and tobacco companies, according to CIEL, is the Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International after splitting with Stanford University in 1970.

Founded in 1946, SRI studied smog and pollution generally and received funding from tobacco and oil companies.

SRI scientists also generated climate change research for the American Petroleum Institute in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Spokespeople for Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell PLC said they hadn’t heard of the Stanford Research Institute before, declining to comment further.

And API spokesmen did not respond to request for comment.

A blog post from the Independent Petroleum Association of America called the document release a “desperate move” and the latest in a coordinated attempt to hurt the fossil fuel industry.

In a 1968 report prepared for API in New York City, SRI scientists Elmer Robinson and R.C. Robbins acknowledged some uncertainty concerning the relation between carbon emissions and rising temperatures, yet said carbon dioxide was the most likely cause of the “greenhouse effect.”

“If the earth’s temperatures increase significantly, a number of events might be expected to occur, including the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, a rise in sea levels, warming of the oceans, and an increase in photosynthesis,” they wrote.

Robinson followed up in an API-commissioned study dated 1971.

“If there were a long term and significant increase in the pollutant content of the atmosphere either of particles or of carbon dioxide, the potential damage to the global environment could be severe,” he said.

“Even the remote possibility of such an occurrence justifies concern,” added Robinson, one of the first scientists to link the burning of fossil fuels with global warming. He died earlier this year at 91.

The documents show oil companies tested toxicity in cigarettes in the 1950s, and some, including Exxon and Shell, patented cigarette filters worldwide for decades. They also indicate that tobacco companies went to SRI for help in creating small testing kits the size of suitcases to assess smoke.

The Smoke and Fumes Committee

In 1946, API established its own body to study pollution from the oil industry. It was called the Smoke and Fumes Committee.

Wary of government regulation to slash pollution from refineries and other operations within their supply chain, as well as public concern about smog in cities such as Los Angeles, petroleum officials at API and member firms offered alternative theories of how smog was created.

“The worst thing that can happen, in many instances, is the hasty passage of a law or laws for the control of a given air pollution situation,” Vance Jenkins, executive secretary of the Smoke and Fumes Committee, said in a 1954 trade journal article about smog pollution.

The corporate predecessors to Chevron Corp., Exxon Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC were each involved in the Smoke and Fumes Committee through former companies and subsidiaries, often broken-off units of the Standard Oil corporate empire.

While the documents show API learned of potential climate change risks as early as 1968 and had formed committees to examine smog pollution in the 1940s, Exxon CEO Lee Raymond said in November 1996 that climate science was unsettled.

“Scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate,” Raymond said at a press conference.

The University of California, San Francisco, documents were cached there starting in 2002 after tobacco industry litigation. Hill & Knowlton references are heavily featured.

An internal Hill & Knowlton memo from 1954 describes a booklet that employees circulated to doctors nationwide on the “cigarette-lung cancer theory.” They also show company founder John Hill, as well as colleagues Bert Goss, Richard Darrow and others, sat in on meetings of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, an industry panel.

Hill also appears in meeting minutes in the 1950s for the Manufacturing Chemists’ Association Inc. And a flyer from 1963 indicates Goss, president of Hill & Knowlton at the time, hosted an event that November about the future of public relations.

An executive of Socony Mobil Oil Co. Inc., a predecessor of Mobil Oil, coordinated that talk, held at the New School in New York City.

Smoke and Fumes: Six Decades of Oil-Tobacco Nexus of Deception and Attacks on Science

http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/07/20/smoke-and-fumes-six-decades-oil-tobacco-nexus-deception-and-attacks-science

smoke-fumes

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) today expanded its website SmokeandFumes.org, featuring a new video and more internal industry documents dating back to the 1950s that reveal the nexus between the oil and tobacco industries’ shared campaigns to undermine science to delay accountability and political action to curtail their deadly products.

CIEL has uncovered new evidence showing that it was the work performed for the oil industry by PR firms (particularly Hill & Knowlton) that attracted the tobacco industry to follow suit — in contrast to the prevailing narrative that Big Oil deployed the Tobacco Playbook to ward off responsibility for climate change resulting from its fossil fuel pollution.

“Again and again we found both the PR firms and the researchers worked first for oil, then for tobacco,” said CIEL President Carroll Muffett in a statement. “It was a pedigree the tobacco companies recognized and sought out.”

ExxonMobil’s excuse in the face of #ExxonKnew has, in part, relied on the defense that oil is not the new tobacco. At the end of the day, as Muffett points out in the video below, the final result is the same, despite who was first to devise the strategies of deception and attacking inconvenient science.

The infamous “Doubt is our product” tobacco memo articulated the strategy most succinctly, but the whole package of deception, delay, and attacks on science have been shared, refined and endlessly deployed by both industries (and many others) since the 1950s.

It reminds me of that old “I learned it by watching you” anti-drug PSA. You’re both still busted, tobacco and oil industries. It doesn’t matter who came first.

Watch the video for the whole story, and check out SmokeandFumes.org for the incredible cache of internal documents uncovered by the Center for International Environmental Law

Déjà vu: as with tobacco, the climate wars are going to court

The fossil fuel industry copied Big Tobacco’s racketeering playbook. They’re following the same path to court, where tobacco lost

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jul/18/deja-vu-as-with-tobacco-the-climate-wars-are-going-to-court

House Science Committe Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is coming to the defense of fossil fuel companies that are accused of deceiving the public on climate change to maximize their own profits. Photograph: Scott J. Ferrell

House Science Committe Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is coming to the defense of fossil fuel companies that are accused of deceiving the public on climate change to maximize their own profits. Photograph: Scott J. Ferrell

Investigative journalism has uncovered a “web of denial” in which polluting industries pay “independent” groups to disseminate misinformation to the public and policymakers. The same groups and tactics were employed first by the tobacco industry, then fossil fuel companies. Big Tobacco has been to court and lost; now it’s Big Oil’s turn. Political leaders are choosing sides in this war.

Research by Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon did top notch climate science research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which revealed the dangers its products posed via climate change. Soon thereafter, Exxon launched misinformation campaigns by funding “think tanks” and front groups to manufacture doubt about climate science and the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.

What #ExxonKnew vs what #ExxonDid. Illustration: John Cook, SkepticalScience.com

What #ExxonKnew vs what #ExxonDid. Illustration: John Cook, SkepticalScience.com

Exxon wasn’t alone. Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and other fossil companies have similarly funneled vast sums of money to these groups. Last week, Senate Democrats, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and vice presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken signed a Resolution expressing congressional disapproval of the fossil fuel industry’s misinformation campaign. 19 Senate Democrats also took to the floor of the Senate to speak out against the web of denial, with repeated references to the tobacco/fossil connections.

The climate battle goes to court

The fossil fuel industry has already put forth its best scientific argument in court, and lost. Now 17 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have formed a coalition to investigate ExxonMobil’s activities. As Schneiderman put it:

The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud

However, Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, along with his Republican colleagues last week issued subpoenas to Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, accusing them of violating Exxon’s First Amendment rights. As Smith claimed:

The Committee has a responsibility to protect First Amendment rights of companies, academic institutions, scientists, and nonprofit organizations. That is why the Committee is obligated to ask for information from the attorneys general and others.

In this battle of First Amendment claims, Big Oil & Coal use the same argument as Big Tobacco, who lost.

The fossil fuel industry copied the tobacco playbook

Last century, we saw a similar battle with tobacco. By the 1950s, the tobacco industry knew that its products caused cancer and other diseases. They still marketed their harmful products to children, and soon created pseudo-academic institutes like the Council for Tobacco Research to cast doubt on smoking’s damage. However, the institutes’ connections to the tobacco industry were too obvious; they wanted “independent” voices.

In the 1980s the Koch brothers started creating a vast web of “think tanks” that could simulate credible independence, funded via dark money, often tax-exempt. Big Tobacco eagerly joined, to “quarterback behind the scenes.” They contributed great marketing talent, some later hired by Kochs.

As extensively documented at DeSmogBlog, Big Tobacco has long funded science-denying think tanks, such as the Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, George Marshall Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Manhattan Institute, to name a few. ExxonMobil later funded these same groups.

The fossil fuel industry has adopted the tobacco industry’s playbook, and shared the same web of denial. The Senate Resolution made this point, calling out both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries for having:

(A) developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, and obfuscate peer-reviewed science; and

(B) used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest

Their tactics have grown more sophisticated, for example using money anonymizers like Donors Trust to ensure their “dark money” becomes even harder to trace.

The tobacco industry lost in court

In 1999, the US Justice Department filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups. In 2006, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the tobacco industry’s campaign to “maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public” about the health hazards of smoking amounted to a racketeering enterprise. She wrote a clear statement, appealed fruitlessly by tobacco companies:

The First Amendment Does Not Protect Defendants’ False and Misleading Public Statements

The attorneys general investigating Exxon have a strong case that the fossil fuel industry is similarly guilty of racketeering by deceiving the public in order to maximize profits. Exxon and other fossil fuel companies knew of the dangers of carbon pollution more than three decades ago, and yet funneled tens of millions of dollars to think tanks that disseminate misinformation to try to convince the public and policymakers otherwise.

Sharon Eubanks led the Justice Department trial team, as documented in the book Bad Acts: The Racketeering Case Against the Tobacco Industry and was a key contributor to the report Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages. Of the Exxon case, she said:

I think a RICO action is plausible and should be considered

The First Amendment defense of the fossil fuel industry by House Republicans simply doesn’t hold water. Defending the fossil fuel industry today is no different than defending the tobacco industry in the 1990s, as did Lamar Smith’s colleague “Smokey Joe” Barton (R-TX).

Unsurprisingly, oil & gas is the top industry donor to Lamar Smith. History books will reflect poorly on those who sold out millions of peoples’ health for personal gain or industry profits, and on those who worked to destabilize the climate on which future generations will rely for the sake of their own political power or ExxonMobil’s record profits.

South African Airways makes first flight using fuel from tobacco

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/south-african-airways-makes-first-flight-using-fuel-from-tobacco

South African Airways completed a flight using jet fuel made from a tobacco plant, its first contribution to the global push to power more air journeys from renewable resources.

SAA used 6,300 liters of bio jet fuel for the one-way trip to Cape Town from Johannesburg, the state-owned carrier said on Friday. The initiative was carried out in conjunction with plane maker Boeing Co. and jet-fuel producer SkyNRG.

“We want to be flying 50 per cent of our airliners using biofuels by 2022,” Acting Chief Executive Officer Musa Zwane told reporters.

SAA’s maiden biofuels flight comes as it battles insolvency and relies on government-guaranteed loans to survive.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday asked parliament to grant an extension for the tabling of SAA’s financials for the year ending March 2015, which are now a year overdue, as the Treasury considers whether to grant further support.

Airlines are examining ways to power more flights from biofuels to limit the environmental impact of aviation and ease dependency on oil. Unprofitable SAA aims to have used 20 million liters of bio-jet fuel by the fourth quarter of 2017, Ian Cruickshank, its head of environmental affairs, told reporters in Cape Town. He said the company is seeking to use 500 million liters by the same time in 2023.

BLOOMBERG

China studies shore power to supplement new emissions rules

http://www.joc.com/regulation-policy/transportation-regulations/international-transportation-regulations/china-studies-shore-power-supplement-new-emissions-rules_20160714.html/

Shore power units, like the one pictured, can help ports bring down their emissions, which they are under increasing pressure to do around the globe.

China’s Ministry of Transport is investigating the widespread use of shore power to help address pollution in the country’s port areas as part of a wider push to reduce maritime emissions, but the haphazard nature of that push has created headaches for container lines and shipowners.

The use of shore power is being studied to supplement the set-up of emission control areas at the main commercial shipping centers of the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas and the northeastern Bohai Rim. Details of the ECAs, including specific requirements and timelines for enforcement, were announced in a directive and follow-up notifications issued by the ministry from the end of last year.

Shore power projects, which the International Council on Clean Transportation says are a highly effective alternative to fuel switching for emissions reduction, were launched at five major ports across the country together with two ship-shore power conversion projects.

“It (shore power) nearly eliminates NOX (nitrogen oxide), PM (particulate matter), and SOX (sulfur oxide) emissions in port areas due to a cleaner electricity generation mix,” the ICCT found in a recent study on the use of shore power at the Port of Shenzhen. However, it also noted that shore power is a much less cost-effective way of reducing emissions.

“Only if a low-sulfur fuel supply cannot be guaranteed or NOX emissions are dominant concerns should onshore power be prioritized.”

The shore power trials are being run at container terminals in Lianyungang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen Yantian, Shanghai and Ningbo-Zhoushan. The ship-shore power conversion projects involve seven China Cosco Shipping container ships with capacities of 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, and four 250,000 deadweight tonnage bulk carriers from Shangdong Shipping.

The new ECA regulations require ships berthing at key ports in the Yangtze River Delta ECA to use fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5 percent since April 1 of this year. The requirement is extended to ships berthing at key Pearl River Delta and Bohai Rim ports from January of 2017.

From Jan. 1, 2019, ships operating anywhere in the ECAs, not just at berth, must use fuel with a sulfur content of no more than 0.5 percent.

The regulation excludes Hong Kong and Macau, but Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department said it will also implement the requirement.

Analysts said the support of China’s national oil companies, which dominate oil and gas upstream and downstream sectors, and the availability of low-sulfur fuel for vessels would be critical to ensure the success of the regulation.

“Because of strong SOE (state-owned enterprise) ownership in energy supplies it is important to have them fully on board. If they aren’t, or if this regulation will reduce their margins, there is a greater risk that business continues as usual,” Richard Brubaker, adjunct professor of management, sustainability and responsible leadership at the China Europe International Business School told JOC.com

Ships that don’t comply with the new ECA regulation are liable for fines of between $1,500 and $15,000 under the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution.

The China Maritime Safety Administration has issued guidelines on the implementation and supervision of ECAs that state how compliance will be verified.

For ships using low-sulfur fuel, verification will be made by a check of bunker delivery notes, fuel changeover procedures, engine room logbook records and fuel oil quality and samples. For ships using alternative measures to reduce emissions, such as shore power, liquefied natural gas or exhaust gas scrubbers, checks will center on International Air Pollution Prevention certification and engine room log books.

China’s Regulation of Prevention and Control of Marine Pollution Act requires ships to keep bunker delivery documents on board for three years and a sample of fuel for one year. Fines of up to $1,500 can be imposed on owners that fail to meet the fuel record keeping requirements.

Huatai Insurance Agency, a mainland-based company that specializes in helping the private sector navigate China’s maritime environment, said the ECA requirements are already being enforced in the Yangtze River Delta.

“There have already been a few cases where [the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration] has issued penalty notice to ships for failing to keep fuel sample and fuel supply documents onboard as required,” Huatai said in a circular to customers published on its website.

Because of challenges that vessel operators may encounter seeking to comply with the new regulation, the Shanghai MSA launched an exemption scheme that allows shipping companies or agencies to apply for an exemption if using low-sulfur fuel is unsafe for the vessel.

With China home to seven of the world’s 10 largest ports, and given the density of population in its port cities and their surroundings, the lack of central direction on emissions control for ports and shipping is a huge concern both globally and domestically.

Hong Kong led the way when public pressure over pollution levels in the Special Administrative Region led it to launch a scheme for voluntary switching to low-sulfur fuel.

This was made mandatory for all ocean-going vessels at berth in the port in July of last year.

The Shenzhen port complex has a voluntary low-sulfur fuel switching scheme in place, and several other Chinese ports — including Qingdao in Shandong province, Waigaoqiao in Shanghai and Shekou in Shenzhen — have also installed shore power infrastructure as well as electrified vehicles and port equipment to reduce emissions.

While cities worldwide work together against global warming, Hong Kong stands aside

John Sayer says Hong Kong’s absence from international climate change initiatives destroys its own credibility as a centre for climate-smart investment funds and green bonds

It is now over six months since the landmark climate talks in Paris. City leaders and local governments have accepted the important role of city-level action in international efforts to reduce climate change.

More than 7,100 cities joined up last month to form the world’s largest city government alliance, known as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. They are pledging greenhouse gas reduction goals, renewable energy targets and better exchange of information and ideas on green energy. The new covenant brings together the Compact of Mayors and the Covenant of Mayors to form a worldwide grouping of cities, which are home to some 600 million people.

Michael Bloomberg is a co-chair of the initiative, and he believes this city-level action can be “a giant step forward in the work of achieving the goals that nations agreed to” on climate action.

On the Global Compact of Mayors website is a map showing thousands of cities in 119 countries which have signed up to the initiative. The map highlights participating cities in countries such as Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines as well as six cities in Taiwan. But regrettably there is a void on the south China coast.

Hong Kong is not represented.

The Chinese government played a positive role in ensuring that the Paris agreement was achieved. The agreement notes the importance of “sub-national” activity in slowing global warming. This has to be led by local and regional governments.

Yet more than six months after the signing of an agreement in which world leaders acknowledged that the timetable for change is very short, Hong Kong has neither prepared a more ambitious response, nor joined up to any significant international initiatives.

If Hong Kong joined other cities to set world-standard targets on renewable energy and carbon reduction, this could improve its credentials to become a hub for green finance. But Hong Kong’s conspicuous absence in this area diminishes its credibility as a centre to host climate-smart investment funds and green bonds. A city that displays little interest in renewables, zero-carbon buildings or green transport sends the message that we have not the motivation or capacity to be a leader of green finance.

Nations agreed in Paris that we must begin work immediately on a green transition. Among those cities recognising the challenge, Hong Kong ranks somewhere below 7,100th, behind many hundreds of cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

John Sayer is a director of Carbon Care Asia and was a member of the Hong Kong NGO delegation to the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1988996/while-cities-worldwide-work-together-against-global-warming

Leaked TTIP energy proposal could ‘sabotage’ EU climate policy

EU proposal on a free trade deal with the US could curb energy saving measures and a planned switch to clean energy, say MEPs

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/11/leaked-ttip-energy-proposal-could-sabotage-eu-climate-policy

The latest draft version of the TTIP agreement could sabotage European efforts to save energy and switch to clean power, according to MEPs.

A 14th round of the troubled negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal between the EU and US is due to begin on Monday in Brussels.

A leak obtained by the Guardian shows that the EU will propose a rollback of mandatory energy savings measures, and major obstacles to any future pricing schemes designed to encourage the uptake of renewable energies.

Environmental protections against fossil fuel extraction, logging and mining in the developing world would also come under pressure from articles in the proposed energy chapter.

Paul de Clerck, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth Europe, said the leaked document: “is in complete contradiction with Europe’s commitments to tackle climate change. It will flood the EU market with inefficient appliances, and consumers and the climate will foot the bill. The proposal will also discourage measures to promote renewable electricity production from wind and solar.”

The European commission says that the free trade deal is intended to: “promote renewable energy and energy efficiency – areas that are crucial in terms of sustainability”.

The bloc has also promised that any agreement would support its climate targets. In the period to 2020, these are binding for clean power and partly binding for energy efficiency, in the home appliance and building standards sectors.

But the draft chapter obliges the two trade blocs to: “foster industry self-regulation of energy efficiency requirements for goods where such self-regulation is likely to deliver the policy objectives faster or in a less costly manner than mandatory requirements”.

Campaigners fear that this could tip the balance in future policy debates and setback efforts to tackle climate change.

Jack Hunter, a spokesman for the European Environmental Bureau said: “Legally-binding energy standards have done wonders to lower energy bills for homes and offices, so much so that energy use has dropped even as the British economy has grown and appliances have become more power-hungry.

“Voluntary agreements have a place, but are generally ‘business as usual’ and no substitute for the real thing. If they became the norm, it would seriously harm our fight against climate change.”

Another passage in the draft text mandates that operators of energy networks grant access to gas and electricity “on commercial terms that are reasonable, transparent and non-discriminatory, including as between types of energy”.

This could create an avenue for preventing the imposition of feed-in tariffs and other support schemes to encourage the uptake of clean energy, according to lawmakers in Brussels.

The Green MEP Claude Turmes said: “These proposals are completely unacceptable. They would sabotage EU legislators’ ability to privilege renewables and energy efficiency over unsustainable fossil fuels. This is an attempt to undermine democracy in Europe.”

The environmental law consultancy, ClientEarth, was concerned that the new proposal effectively derogated responsibility for urgent climate change actions agreed at COP21 to the business sector.

“Industry is not the right entity to lead the fight against climate change,” said ClientEarth’s lawyer, Laurens Ankersmit. “It is madness for the EU and the US to rely on it in this way.”

The energy chapter negotiations began as part of an EU push for unlimited access to exports of the US’s relatively cheap liquefied natural gas, much of it derived from shale.

The EU is committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 80% by 2050, as measured against 1990 levels – and pledged a 40% CO2 cut by 2030 at the Paris climate conference, last December.

But the new text says that: “the Parties must agree on a legally binding commitment to eliminate all existing restrictions on the export of natural gas in trade between them as of the date of entry into force of the Agreement”.

Other countries wanting to trade with the EU or US would also find themselves up against requirements that they remove trade barriers.

The draft says: “The Parties shall cooperate to reduce or eliminate trade and investment distorting measures in third countries affecting energy and raw materials.”

In 2013, the EU’s trade commissioner Karel de Gucht promised the multinational oil giant Exxon that the energy chapter would remove obstacles to its expansion plans in Africa and South America.

Shenzhen cancels 1.8 billion yuan deal for BYD electric buses

Question mark hangs over major purchase of 2,919 electric buses from Shenzhen government-owned operator

Mainland electric car manufacturer BYD said the bulk of a 1.8 billion yuan (HK$2 billion) deal that it only just won from a Shenzhen government-owned bus operator last week has been cancelled.

The company said in announcements to the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges late on Monday that Shenzhen Western Bus Co. has terminated a procurement plan for 2,228 10-metre long electric buses from its subsidiary BYD Auto Industry.

“Due to capacity adjustment, the procurement plan for 2,919 new energy vehicles (Batch 2) has been changed and the tendering process terminated,” the Shenzhen Transportation Research and Design Institute Co, agent for the purchaser, said in an announcement on its website on Monday.

BYD announced on July 7 that it was the first-ranked winning bidder for the tender worth 1,797 million yuan, excluding national and municipal government allowances.

The tender, comprising three batches, included 296 8-metre long electric buses, 2,228 10-metre long electric buses and 395 10-metre long electric buses.

BYD said its subsidiary had participated in the bidding process lawfully and that it “would work actively with the purchaser and relevant departments on the follow-up and determination of the order”. It also said it would make announcements if it receives any update regarding the status of the other two batches of the tender.

Shenzhen has set a target to make its fleet of 16,000 buses all powered by batteries by 2017, according to its mayor Xu Qin. Prior to this change, BYD had managed to win 3.8 billion yuan worth of tenders for a total of 6,775 electric buses – more than BYD’s total sales of electric buses last year – from Shenzhen Western Bus Co and Shenzhen Eastern Bus Co, which are government-owned bus operators in the city. It won a 1.81 billion yuan tender for 3,024 electric buses with Shenzhen Eastern Bus in April.

Neither BYD or Shenzhen Western Bus Co could immediately be reached for comment after office hours on Monday evening.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1988554/shenzhen-cancels-18-billion-yuan-deal-byd-electric-buses