Exclusive new footage of an internal Mobil Oil meeting with employees, obtained by ThinkProgress, shows then chief executive, Lucio Noto, discussing the impact of Mobil’s product on climate change a full two decades ago. This admission occurred as the company worked externally to marginalize climate science and reject any responsibility for global warming and its impacts.
Noto’s statement took place in 1998 — one year prior to Mobil’s merger with Exxon — and raises critical questions about top executives’ awareness of the company’s overall carbon footprint. The answers may have significant implications for the multiple climate lawsuits currently facing ExxonMobil and other oil giants.
A central question in these lawsuits is who should be held responsible for rising global temperatures and the subsequent impacts of climate change. During a recent court meeting in California between attorneys for major oil companies — ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips — and two of the cities currently suing them, the main thrust behind Big Oil’s legal strategy quickly became clear: shift the blame.
But archival video footage of a Mobil Oil meeting seen by ThinkProgress indicates that 20 years ago, employees were raising concerns about the company’s responsibility for climate change. In response to staff complaints, Noto — the man who would become ExxonMobil’s second in command alongside Lee Raymond — appears to acknowledge the impact the company’s product has on rising greenhouse gas emissions.