1990 Exxon Shareholders Environmental Report, Imperial Oil Collection

This is a 1990 internal memorandum from the Public Affairs department of the Exxon Corporation, containing a draft of the shareholder’s Environmental Report. This document is part of the ClimateFiles Imperial Oil document set, gleaned by DeSmog researchers from the Glenbow Imperial Oil Archive Collection.

The report mentions recent environmental catastrophes, particularly “the Bhopal catastrophe in 1986 and later the Valdez oil spill in 1989,” and highlights the efforts made by the corporation to improve human and environmental safety measures. The document notes that “in 1971 Exxon was one of the first in the industry to adopt a position on environmental conservation. It was reaffirmed in 197_, and has since been revised to become what is now our Environmental Policy Statement. It reads: [newly revised policy to be inserted here].” 

Regarding Exxon’s role in shaping environmental policy on the national and international level, the report states:

“In order to assist governments on all levels in making well-informed decisions on environmental policy, Exxon representatives provide technical information and counsel on the environment, safety and health. Exxon serves as technical advisors to such bodies at the European Economic Community, the United Nations Environmental Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and many others.” 

The last section of the report speaks to Exxon’s research into climate change, “going back to the early 1980’s.” According to the report, “Exxon initiated research and analysis of the issue long before it became prominent with the public…. we were the first in the petroleum industry to investigate the greenhouse theory and have committed about $2 million to basic research.” This amount of funding makes up roughly 0.0125% of the “over $16 billion” dedicated to “Exxon’s environmental expenditures from 1970 to 1989”, as previously stated in the report. The report goes on to call for “much more research…to either confirm or deny a cause and effect relationship between emissions from man-made sources and global warming,” stating that “there is some evidence which indicates that the Earth’s climate is not warming at all. Until these uncertainties are resolved, Exxon is committed to supporting additional research.”

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