US: How Oil Giant Influenced Bush

Publisher Name: 
The Guardian

President's
George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto
global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil,
the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according
to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian.

The
documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for
discussions on climate change before next month's G8 meeting, reinforce
widely-held suspicions of how close the company is to the
administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy.

In briefing papers given
before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky,
between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon
executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to
determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what
climate change policies the company might find acceptable.

Other
papers suggest that Ms Dobriansky should sound out Exxon executives and
other anti-Kyoto business groups on potential alternatives to Kyoto.

Until
now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US
government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by
Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is
not the case.

"Potus
[president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input
from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before
Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry
group, which was dominated by Exxon.

The
papers further state that the White House considered Exxon "among the
companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches
[like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions".

But
in evidence to the UK House of Lords science and technology committee
in 2003, Exxon's head of public affairs, Nick Thomas, said: "I think we
can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States
government or any other government to take any sort of position over
Kyoto."

Exxon,
officially the US's most valuable company valued at $379bn (£206bn)
earlier this year, is seen in the papers to share the White House's
unwavering scepticism of international efforts to address climate
change.

The
documents, which reflect unanimity between the company and the US
administration on the need for more global warming science and the
unacceptable costs of Kyoto, state that Exxon believes that joining
Kyoto "would be unjustifiably drastic and premature".

This
line has been taken consistently by President Bush, and was expected to
be continued in yesterday's talks with Tony Blair who has said that
climate change is "the most pressing issue facing mankind".

"President
Bush tells Mr Blair he's concerned about climate change, but these
documents reveal the alarming truth, that policy in this White House is
being written by the world's most powerful oil company. This
administration's climate policy is a menace to humanity," said Stephen
Tindale, Greenpeace's executive director in London last night.

"The
prime minister needs to tell Mr Bush he's calling in some favours. Only
by securing mandatory cuts in US emissions can Blair live up to his
rhetoric," said Mr Tindale.

In
other meetings documented in the papers, Ms Dobriansky meets Don
Pearlman, an international anti-Kyoto lobbyist who has been a paid
adviser to the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments, both of which have
followed the US line against Kyoto.

The
purpose of the meeting with Mr Pearlman, who also represents the
secretive anti-Kyoto Climate Council, which the administration says
"works against most US government efforts to address climate change",
is said to be to "solicit [his] views as part of our dialogue with
friends and allies".

ExxonMobil,
which was yesterday contacted by the Guardian in the US but did not
return calls, is spending millions of pounds on an advertising campaign
aimed at influencing politicians, opinion formers and business leaders
in the UK and other pro-Kyoto countries in the weeks before the G8
meeting at Gleneagles.


AMP Section Name:Energy
  • 106 Money & Politics