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Congress Committee Says Documents Show Big Oil Greenwashing

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(Bloomberg) — A Democrat-led Congressional Committee said internal documents from Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Shell Plc and BP Plc reveal that their public promises to fight climate change amount to greenwashing.

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A cache of emails, lobbying and preparation materials for senior executives obtained by the Committee on Oversight on Reform show that Big Oil climate pledges rely on “unproven technology, accounting gimmicks and misleading language to hide the reality,” Subcommittee Chair Ro Khanna said in an emailed statement.

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Shell touted an ambitious path to achieve net-zero emissions but internally emphasized that this had “nothing to do with our business plans,” emails showed. Exxon sought to water down statements from the industry’s Oil and Gas Climate Initiative to remove a pledge to uphold the Paris Agreement.

“Creating a tie between our advocacy/engagements and the Paris Agreement could create a potential commitment to advocate on the Paris Agreement goals,” an Exxon executive said in a briefing note to CEO Darren Woods in August 2019.

The committee released the emails after a year-long investigation into whether Big Oil misled the public on climate change, a claim the industry denies. It will hold a hearing on the issue Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Shell has been producing climate pathways for decades “and it’s widely understood they are not prescriptions, predictions or meant to represent Shell’s current business plan,” the company said in a statement.

Exxon “has supported the Paris Agreement from its inception in 2015 and continues to support U.S. government participation in the framework,” it said in a statement.

BP has “set near term targets that are consistent with our ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner,” it said.

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(Updates with company comments at end.)

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