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Big Oil CEOs deny lying to the public about climate change

Big Oil CEOs deny lying to the public about climate change

The heads of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP America testified before Congress about their companies’ role in climate disinformation.

Under oath and facing harsh questioning, the heads of some of the world’s largest oil companies denied Thursday they knew their products were driving climate change and lied about it, saying they acted in good faith to cut emissions and were merely following the science at the time.

Comparing oil companies to Big Tobacco, House Democrats brought the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP America before cameras for what they described as a “historic hearing” on the companies’ role for decades in climate disinformation.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who helped to organize the hearing, said he hoped the energy giants wouldn’t “follow the same playbook” as cigarette companies, who he said concealed information about their products’ harmful effects.

“You are powerful leaders at the top of the corporate world at a turning point for our planet. Be better,” he said. “Spare us the spin today, really we have no interest in it.”

As the CEOs testified virtually, Democrats confronted them with internal documents showing Exxon scientists acknowledging that burning of fossil fuels would cause climate change, even as the company’s leader at the time was calling the link “inconclusive.”

“I do not agree there was an inconsistency,” Exxon CEO Darren Woods testified. “As science has developed, our science has developed.”

Eager to portray themselves as dealing proactively with global warming, the CEOs emphasized the voluntary steps they’ve already taken. As public consensus about human-caused climate change has hardened in recent years, major energy companies have heavily publicized their limited investments in clean energy sources and embraced some government steps to curb emissions, such as putting a price on carbon and regulating methane.