Using tactics perfected by tobacco companies, Esso has confused the public and policy makers in the US about climate change and sapped the political will to address it.
Esso ran advertising campaigns in the US press condemning the Kyoto Protocol and dismissing climate change. It has also funded think-tanks and lobby groups to the tune of $12 million since 1997. These groups are involved both in lobbying governments directly and appearing in the media as 'independent experts' who question the reality of climate change and oppose efforts to address it. Groups funded by Esso include:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
The CEI has argued that climate change would create a "milder, greener, more prosperous world" and that "Kyoto was a power grab based on deception and fear." In 2004 one of the CEI's directors, Myron Ebell appeared on Radio 4's Today programme claiming climate change is a myth cooked up by the EU to 'hamper American competitiveness.' He went on to attack the UK government's respected chief scientist, Sir David King, saying that King is an "alarmist" who is "promoting this ridiculous claim." Ebell was billed on the programme as 'an advisor to President Bush'.
American Petroleum Institute (API)
Esso is a financial supporter and sits on the board of the API. In 1998, Esso helped plan a $7million API public relations offensive to undermine scientific consensus on the threat of climate change. The plan stated that "victory will be achieved when those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality." Among other tactics, API planned to recruit and train "independent scientists" without any track record of participation in the climate debate to undertake media work against established climate science and the Kyoto Protocol.
The Frontiers of Freedom Foundation
The Frontiers of Freedom Foundation was founded to fight environmental regulations and calls itself the "antithesis" of the green movement. It has promoted the view that climate change isn't real, saying, "Climate has always varied, often with large swings...These dramatic climatic ebbs and flows are naturally occurring events."