Bill McKibben, others, at secret meeting
A key meeting in the new push unfolded in January behind the closed doors of a Manhattan office building.
The session brought together about a dozen people, including Kenny Bruno, a veteran of environmental campaigns, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, two activists who helped lead the successful fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline. The new campaign’s goals include “to establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” according to an agenda of the meeting viewed by The Wall Street Journal. This new legal strategy stems in part from environmentalists’ frustration at what they see as the inadequacy of recent climate deals.
Their hope is to encourage state attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department to launch investigations and lawsuits that ultimately will change Exxon’s behavior, force it to pay big damages and drive public attention to climate change. “It’s about helping the larger public understand the urgencies of finding climate solutions,” said Lee Wasserman, director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, which hosted the January meeting. “It’s not really about Exxon.”
Exxon and its supporters dismiss the comparison with tobacco. Cigarettes are a harmful, addictive product used by a portion of the public, they say, while fossil fuels are fundamental to the world economy.
In Wednesday’s filing, Exxon’s lawyers say the company has confirmed for more than a decade that it sees the risks of climate change, and that it has publicly advocated for a carbon tax as the best way to regulate carbon emissions.
h/t to Matt Dempsey