ExxonMobil and Chairman Lee Raymond Misled Investors
on Global Warming, Group Charges in Resolution
ExxonMobil's Use of Sea Temperature Data is Misleading, Says Author
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2000
For More information, contact:
Peter Altman, Campaign ExxonMobil: 512 750-0373
Sister Patricia Daly: 973-579-1732
Fact sheet on ExxonMobil's misleading statements in pdf
Letter by Dr. Lloyd Keigwin, Sargasso Sea research author in pdf
Frustrated by ExxonMobil's stance on global warming, religious shareholders have filed a resolution charging that the company and Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond misled investors at the company's most recent annual meeting. The resolution filed by Patricia Daly of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey says "We believe that ExxonMobil has misinformed shareholders about global warming with inaccurate statements and unreliable information. In addition we believe CEO Lee Raymond made inaccurate statements and used unreliable information when discussing global warming at the May 2000 Annual Meeting. "
"Shareholders are potentially vulnerable to the financial costs of global warming and have the right to a full and accurate assessment about it, not the half-truths and half-science that ExxonMobil offered them last year," said Daly. "We are very concerned that management has so little regard for investors that they are willing to make misleading and disingenuous statements in a shareholder meeting. This is simply a terrible abuse of the truth by ExxonMobil".
Daly's argument has been bolstered by the comments of Dr. Lloyd Keigwin, a scientist whose work has been used repeatedly by ExxonMobil to make the case that there is no certainty about whether the earth is warming or why.
During the May 2000 meeting, ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Lee R. Raymond presented a chart of Keigwin's temperature data from the Sargasso Sea, a small section of the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda. Raymond pointed out the wide temperature fluctuations and how past temperatures appeared warmer than today, long before people began burning fossil fuels. "So the issue isn't only: is the earth warming but why is it warming," Raymond concluded.
But Keigwin, who published the study in Science, disagrees. In a letter dated December 11, 2000, Keigwin wrote "I believe ExxonMobil has been misleading in its use of the Sargasso Sea data. There's really no way these results bear on the question of human induced climate warming.I think the sad thing is the a company with the resources of ExxonMobil is exploiting the data for political purposes."
Dr. Keigwin, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, wrote the letter in response to an inquiry from Peter Altman, National Coordinator of Campaign ExxonMobil. Campaign ExxonMobil was founded by religious shareholders, including Patricia Daly, to convince ExxonMobil to take responsibility for its role in global warming.
Concern about Raymond's misleading statements prompted shareholders to use the resolution to call on the board of directors to link executive compensation to social and environmental performance." We feel that Lee Raymond must be held accountable in his compensation package for misleading shareholders on the issue of global warming," said Daly. "Shareholders request that the Board Compensation Committee should consider non-financial factors, including social and environmental concerns, in determining compensation for top executives." The deadline for the resolution is December 15th. Shareholders who have held their stock for more than a year may co-file the resolution with Daly.
The Sargasso Sea data wasn't the only information used to mislead shareholders at the meeting. ExxonMobil has a history of using bad scientific data, sometimes to comic effect. For instance, at the May 2000 shareholder meeting, Raymond argued there is no consensus among scientists that global warming is happening. Raymond made his case by pointing to a petition dismissing global warming, purportedly signed by over 17,000 scientists. "What I am saying is there is a substantial difference of view in the scientific community as to what exactly is going on," Raymond said. But the signatures had been collected over the internet with little verification of their authenticity. At the meeting, a speaker from the floor noted that among the 17,000 names were members of the Spice Girls as well as TV sitcom characters and singer James Brown.
Raymond also displayed a chart of atmospheric temperature data recorded by satellites, and said "But if you just eyeball that, you could make a case statistically that, in fact, the temperature is going down." But the data Raymond cited had long since been corrected by its authors who had publicly stated that the data showed the earth is warming.
Shareholders are also urging ExxonMobil to invest in renewable energy. Father Michael Crosby of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, also a Campaign ExxonMobil founder, is filing a resolution asking the company to develop a policy to promote renewable energy.
Other shareholder resolutions being filed are intended to protect human rights from the Chad-Cameroon pipeline and protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
Keigwin's letter and a fact sheet documenting more of ExxonMobil's global warming misinformation is posted to www.campaignexxonmobil.org.