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Policy

Big oil sponsorship of American Geophysical Union questioned

Scientists call for American Geophysical Union to reject ExxonMobil support

by Jessica Morrison
February 25, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 9

More than 100 scientists are calling on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to cut financial ties with oil giant ExxonMobil because of allegations that the company misled the public about climate change.

In a letter sent last week to the earth and planetary science society’s president, members of the organization and other concerned geoscientists urged AGU to drop ExxonMobil as a sponsor of its annual meeting.

ExxonMobil is under investigation in New York and California for allegedly misinforming investors and the public for decades about the links between fossil-fuel use and human-caused climate change.

Signatories to the letter include “hockey stick” climate researcher Michael E. Mann, “Merchants of Doubt” author and Harvard University professor Naomi Oreskes, and former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies James E. Hansen.

The scientists call on the society to “protect the integrity of climate science by rejecting the sponsorship of future AGU conferences by corporations complicit in climate misinformation, starting with ExxonMobil.”

In response, AGU, which has some 60,000 members, said it will consider the questions raised in the letter at its April board meeting. “AGU is an organization that strives to make well considered decisions based on facts and data, and we encourage the open exchange of ideas and views on important issues such as this one,” society President Margaret Leinen writes in a blog post.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil, who says allegations that the corporation suppressed climate change research are false, told C&EN, “To suggest that we had reached definitive conclusions, decades before the world’s experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development, is not credible.”

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