Is ExxonMobil a Green Company?

200px-Exxon_logo.svgForbes Magazine recently picked Exxon Mobil Corp as its “Green Company of the Year.” Forbes praised Exxon for putting “$600 million into algae farms that would turn sunlight into automotive fuel,” and for the company’s increased drilling for natural gas. Exxon has almost completed a $30 billion project to “develop the world’s biggest natural gas field” in Qatar. When completed, the project in Qatar will make Exxon the world’s biggest producer of natural gas by a company that is not government controlled.

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and natural gas company, pled guilty in a Denver federal court to killing migratory birds in five states. Exxon agreed to pay $600,000, $400,000 in fines and $200,000 in community service payments, and has already spent over $2.5 million to create a plan to prevent bird deaths at its facilities. Most of the birds died from exposure to hydrocarbons) in uncovered natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities.

Exxon is still funding lobby groups that question climate change, according to an analysis by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics. The analysis cited Exxon’s 2008 Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments. The lobby groups that Exxon funded in 2008 include the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), which received $75,000, and the Heritage Foundation, which received $50,000.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for Grantham, said NCPA and Heritage Foundation published “misleading and inaccurate information about climate change.” Ward added, “ExxonMobil has been briefing journalists for three years that they were going to stop funding these groups. The reality is that they are still doing it. If the world’s largest oil company wants to fund climate change denial then it should be upfront about it, and not tell people it has stopped.”

On its website, the NCPA said of climate change:

“NCPA scholars believe that while the causes and consequences of the earth’s current warming trend is [sic] still unknown, the cost of actions to substantially reduce CO2 emissions would be quite high and result in economic decline, accelerated environmental destruction, and do little or nothing to prevent global warming regardless of its cause.”

The Heritage Foundation contains a April 2009 paper on its website that states:  “The scientific consensus behind global warming, especially the seriousness of the impacts, is anything but strong.”

An Exxon spokesperson said, “Only ExxonMobil speaks for ExxonMobil and our position on climate change is clear. We have the same concerns as people everywhere, and that is how to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We take the issue of climate change seriously and the risks warrant action.”

Exxon said in its 2008 corporate citizenship report it would cut funding several groups that “divert attention” from finding sources of clean energy.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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