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Criticism intensifies as major oil companies renege on climate pledges

A British Petroleum (BP) logo is seen at a petrol station in south London. (Via Reuters)

Big US oil companies have lied to the public about their plans to help advance climate goals, according to new documents.

The documents were released at a hearing the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held on Thursday to investigate the disinformation campaign launched by US oil giants Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron for climate goals.

They show that the oil giants were continuing to mislead the public on climate change and undercut global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The obtained documents from them showed that the US firms not only had no intention to go green, but also, wished that the critical climate activists, in their own words, would fall prey to bedbugs.

Democrats, who lead the House committee, called the CEOs from the US oil companies to testify last year, in which they denied they had misled the public.

This was the third congressional hearing on how the fossil-fuel industry has been seeking to hamper efforts to address the climate crisis.

The new documents were “the latest evidence that oil giants keep lying about their commitments to help solve the climate crisis and should never be trusted by policymakers”, said Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity.

“If there is one thing consistent about the oil and gas majors’ position on climate, it’s their utter inability to tell the truth,” Wiles added.

Ro Khanna, co-chair of the committee, said the new documents are “explosive” and show a “culture of intense disrespect” to climate activists. The oil giants' “climate pledges rely on unproven technology, accounting gimmicks and misleading language to hide the reality,” he added.

“Big Oil executives are laughing at the people trying to protect our planet while they knowingly work to destroy it.”

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they wish bedbugs on you, then you win,” said Varshini Prakash, American climate activist and executive director of the Sunrise Movement.

Several of the emails and memos within the released trove of documents appear to show executives, staffers and lobbyists internally contradicting public pronouncements by their companies to act on lowering global-warming emissions.

Exxon, which recently announced profits of $17.9 billion for the three months until June, more than three times what it earned in the same quarter a year ago, has publicly said it is “committed” to the Paris climate agreement to curb global warming.

US President Joe Biden pledged to transform the US economy towards clean energy and reducing gas pollution.

He brought the US back into the Paris climate accord in January after his predecessor Donald Trump said in 2017 he was pulling the country out.

After China, the US is the world's second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by India and Russia, respectively.

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