The Current

Allegations ExxonMobil used Big Tobacco tactics on climate change

New York's attorney general has launched an investigation into the fossil fuel company about whether the company lied to the public about climate change. While some say it's important to call Big Oil to account like Big Tobacco, others say it's scapegoating.
An Exxon tanker truck makes a refueling stop at an Exxon station. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

An investigation has been launched into whether fossil fuel company ExxonMobil lied to the public and to investors about climate change and its risks to their business. This investigation comes on the heels of media reports alleging that ExxonMobil had a role in discrediting climate science. ExxonMobil has categorically rejected these allegations.

  • Dave Hasemyer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with who spent eight months investigating ExxonMobil's history. He joined us from San Diego, California.

Environmental activists in Canada and around the world are closely watching how this investigation proceeds. From their perspective, this case could be a turning point in how we view the production and consumption of fossil fuels.  

  • Pierre Sadik is a lawyer for Ecojustice, an organization dedicated to fighting for the environment in the courts. He spoke to us from Ottawa.  
  • Bruce Pardy is a professor in the faculty of law at Queens University. He joined us from Kingston
An ice floe floats on a lake in front of the Solheimajokull glacier, where the ice has retreated by more than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) since annual measurements began in 1931. (Thibault Camus/Associated Press)

ExxonMobil declined our request for an interview but sent a statement that reads, in part, "...ExxonMobil has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in our 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders." 

The American Petroleum Institute and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers declined to comment. 

We reached out to the New York Attorney General but have not heard back.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Karin Marley.