The ridiculous #ExxonKnew Investigation Takes Another Hit (two actually)

See update below – AG skips court, order issued

From the “Goreballs and the McKibbenites are getting smaller and smaller” department comes news of a new academic paper which suggests that yet again, their claims are moot.

  • A recent study out of Oxford University illustrates the shortcomings of using petroleum and gas companies’ climate policy forecasts as a basis for securities fraud investigations.
  • The Oxford study suggests that the global “carbon budget” will not be exhausted for decades, rather than by the end of this decade as previous models had concluded.
  • This development illustrates the difficulties inherent in the making of convincing, let alone accurate, forecasts about future climate policies, and creates new doubts about the legal implications of such forecasts.

The academic literature giveth and the academic literature taketh away. That, at least, is what the supporters of New York State’s Martin Act investigation into Exxon Mobil (XOM) must be thinking in the wake of some recent high-profile publications in the academic literature. Last month saw the publication of an op-ed in The New York Times by two Harvard researchers that highlighted what they concluded to be “explicit factual misrepresentation” by the company in the 1990s on the state of climate change research.

Now comes a study published in Nature Geoscience by researchers at Oxford University finding that, in the words of The Economist, “climate researchers have been underestimating the carbon ‘budget’ compatible with the ambitions expressed in [The Paris Climate Agreement].” While both studies have generated headlines around the world, the latter is the one that Exxon Mobil’s investors will want to pay attention to because of its Martin Act investigation implications.
Read more at Seeking Alpha, h/t to Cliff Hilton


From the University of Oxford PR website:

The paper concludes that limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far.

Three approaches were used to evaluate the outstanding ‘carbon budget’ (the total amount of CO2 emissions compatible with a given global average warming) for 1.5°C: re-assessing the evidence provided by complex Earth System Models, new experiments with an intermediate-complexity model, and evaluating the implications of current ranges of uncertainty in climate system properties using a simple model. In all cases the level of emissions and warming to date were taken into account.

Dr Richard Millar, lead author and post-doctoral research fellow at the Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative at Oxford University, said: ‘Limiting total CO2 emissions from the start of 2015 to beneath 240 billion tonnes of carbon (880 billion tonnes of CO2), or about 20 years’ of current emissions, would likely achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’

The full paper citation “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C” 


UPDATE: shortly after publishing this news, we got word of this:

Court Orders #ExxonKnew Attorney General to Sit For Deposition

Bill Sorrell, the former attorney general of Vermont, is ducking questions about his role in the #ExxonKnew campaign. Sorrell was due in a Burlington courthouse today for a deposition by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), but he was nowhere to be found and has now been ordered by the court to appear for a deposition. Though it’s unclear whether he skipped town for good, the former AG’s nonappearance raises new questions about what he and his successor are trying to hide.

Vermont Judge Mary Miles Teachout granted E&E Legal’s motion earlier this year to add Sorrell in his personal capacity to their litigation against the Vermont AG’s office. This has allowed the group to request emails Sorrell sent from his private Gmail account to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which were part of their discussions on Schneiderman’s investigation of ExxonMobil.

The longtime Vermont AG was set to be deposed by E&E Legal’s attorneys this morning in Vermont about his participation in an investigation that has bizarrely accused ExxonMobil of both accurately understanding climate change and failing to accurately predict climate change.

In a statement, E&E Legal’s lead counsel Matthew Hardin said:

“Any first year law student understands you cannot ignore basic civil procedures like skipping a deposition if you are compelled, simply because you would prefer not to participate,” he said. “When you consider the fact that the individual in question is the former attorney general of an entire state, his failure to ignore the very rules he spent twenty years enforcing is unfathomable.”

Sorrell dodging his deposition could mean several things. Perhaps he doesn’t think he can sit through a round or two of questioning from attorneys without implicating himself, or maybe he doesn’t think he could do so without giving up information that would make it harder for Schneiderman and his fellow lurking AGs to prosecute ExxonMobil.

More here at Energy in Depth

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49 thoughts on “The ridiculous #ExxonKnew Investigation Takes Another Hit (two actually)

  1. Ermmm, yes. If there’s some dangerous global warming, climate change after 40 years of BS-ing about it, pointing at it might help here.

    Hold on a sec …….

  2. The sooner we can get some real court cases up and running so that the actual science can be subject to legal cross examination in detail the better. Coincidentally I drove past “Salem Church” in Wales this week which reminded me of something.

  3. “…likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far.”

    Reminds me of the homeless guy who asks me for a dollar every day to help get him off the street. He’s been there for years…

    • Doing nothing at all is sufficient to meet the Paris goals and this is the most ambitious reduction of all. It requires acceptance of science driven by the scientific method, rather than science driven by conformance to a political narrative and the political forces that have embraced the broken science and dictate the narrative can’t accept being wrong as it would expose ideological weaknesses that could be fatal to their other causes.

      • Reminds me of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, where the titular man has taken up full-time beggary in disguise because it made him more money than his real job.

  4. A recent study out of Oxford University illustrates the shortcomings of using petroleum and gas companies’ climate policy forecasts as a basis for securities fraud investigations.

    What did Exxon know and when did they know it?

    Way back in 1982, Exxon knew what Hansen knew. They knew that CO2 would cause nearly twice as much warming as would actually transpire over the subsequent 30 years…

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/22/what-did-exxonmobil-know-and-when-did-they-know-it-part-1/

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/24/what-did-exxonmobil-know-and-when-did-they-know-it-part-3-exxon-the-fork-not-taken/

    Here’s what Exxon knew in 1978…

    Exxon knew that most government and academic scientists wanted more research money.

    Exxon knew that there were lots of uncertainties.

    In 1978, Exxon knew that the effects on sea level and the polar ice caps would likely be negligible, models were useless and more effort should be directed at paleoclimatology.

    In 1978, Exxon knew that the models were useless.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/23/what-did-exxonmobil-know-and-when-did-they-know-it-part-deux-same-as-it-ever-was/

    In 1963, Exxon knew that the entire theory of climatic changes by CO2 variations was questionable.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/04/18/smoke-fumes-part-deux-exxon-knew-the-entire-theory-of-climatic-changes-by-co2-variations-is-questionable/

    • In 1941, Exxon knew what about oil embargo of Japan?

      In 1712, Exxon knew what about the steam engine and its implications for coal consumption?

      The legal case options are endless as long as the common sense restriction is fully relaxed or such time as the campaign fund is fully funded.

      • And Vermont has: Carbon War Room, 350.org, Greenpeace, Sanders Institute, WRI. So former Vermont AG fitted right in with the crowd?

      • AGW tactics reminds me of exactly the tactics followed by Scientology when they are questioned about something, especially by the media.
        1) What ever you do, don’t answer the media’s questions.
        …redirect
        …respond off topic
        …ask them if they knew about this or that which the Church does.
        2) Never present the Church in a negative fashion.
        3) Never question the edicts or principles of the Church.
        4) Ridicule their sources.
        5) Threaten to file suit in court.
        6) Disprove their credentials.
        7) Have them followed and harassed.

    • Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, in 1978 Exxon knew more about global warming than all of the combined certified and official global warming “scientist” of today??

      • Yep. The knew that government and academic scientists wanted more research money. Models were pretty well useless. And that the effects on sea level and ice cover would be pretty well negligible.

        This would be analogous to Big Tobacco, if cigarettes were mostly harmless… And Big Tobacco kept it a secret.

  5. . The absurdity of all Exxon investigations is the premise that a crime can be committed for withholding the truth about climate change when the truth has yet to be discovered. Far left liberals need to get a life.

    • …and their near left cousins and left minded media providers and progressive left perception managers.

    • Exxon DID NOT “know” anything about how the climate was going to react to CO2 increases. They speculated about what might happen, as we continue to do to this day, but there is no evidence CO2 is adding net heat to the atmosphere. Exxon doesn’t know about CO2’s effect on the Earth’s atmosphere, nor does anyone else.

      Exxon ought to sue those AG’s for abuse of power.

  6. The phrase “Exxon knew” is ludicrous.

    Exxon is not a person. It’s hugely complex organization with tens of thousands of employees that produces thousands of technical reports a year.

    If a scientist did produce a report in 1977 that discussed global warming, how many in Exxon read it? And of those who read it, how many understood it, believed it, and remembered it?

    The answers are likely “few” and “even fewer”. So what does it mean, then, to say that “Exxon knew”?

    • All of the Exxon reports, studies and models were basically summaries of then current, publicly available research. Virtually none of this was original and/or secret research conducted by Exxon “scientists.”

      What Exxon learned was that the science was extremely unsettled… Almost as unsettled as it is today.

      Exxon’s management was primarily interested determining the potential for regulatory malfeasance on the part of the government in response to the unsettled science.

    • This concoction of F-wits, shiite scientists, liars, phonies and kleptokrats can make any phrase ludicrous. How about “climate change”. They can even dupe dimwits into believing the hoax by just saying “climate” with a gravitas-laden BBC voice. Believe me, I know people …..

  7. Exxon knows that it doesn’t know. I only wish the climate alarmists knew what Exxon knows.

    • Exactly. It seems virtually impossible to make real climate predictions. If some happen to be right, it is because of random chance. There is nothing with climate happening today that is outside the range of natural variability. I think it is a sure thing that many factors affecting climate are yet to be known.

  8. How is the deposition process different in the USA? In the U.K. if a witness fails to appear when summoned to do so by a court without a good reason that is notified to the judge, a visit by the police is likely in short order.

    • What happens depends on the judge and the case in question. Depositions can and do get rescheduled. The worst that can happen is that the judge issues a bench arrest warrant for contempt of court, as far a I know.

      • Actually, not in this case. He can get his license to practice law almost automatically revoked for contempt of court. Technically, all lawyers are ‘officers of the court’ in those jurisdictions where they are admitted to practice. Its an explicit part of the admission to the bar swearing in ceremony. I went through it in Massachusetts, and my daughter went through it in my presence in Illinois.

  9. Plenty to hide. The no show risking contempt of court is sufficient evidence. But there is much more. We already know from other emails obtained under FOIA that the whole thing was planned and motivated starting with a Oct 2011 multi-day event at Scripps La Jolla ‘chaired’ by Naomi Oreskes (minutes can be googled, I archived just in case) based on Merchants of Doubt. We also know from the same sources that the 20 AG presser was preceded by same day briefings from Union of Concerned Scientists (arguably comprising prosecutorial misconduct), and that theAG ‘fact reliance’ also came from provably grossly biased and inaccurate sources from a Columbia U front funded by Rockefeller Foundation. And, Virgin Islands AG dropped out after a direct standing challenge (and his on record comments hoping to reprise his Hess oil shakedown of its USVI refinery). Mass AG dropped out under Exxon threat of abuse of office. And Schneiderman has been reduced to hiding behind NY’s overly vague Martin Act on securities ‘fraud’ when the original discoverable (via above cites sources) AG plan was a civil RICO based on ‘What did Exxon know, and when did they know it’ just like big tobacco, just like Oreskes was agitating for.

  10. Odd how keen the AGW proponents to start or threaten court action , when they are then so much keener to avoid ever getting into court . Looks like that love to start things but never want to finish .
    Although given climate ‘science’ is full of empty and meaningless threats built on BS , this is normal practice.

    • Like a typical schoolyard bully, they were confident the initial threat alone would get them what they wanted, with no plan for what to do should the intended target fight back.

  11. By eye your graph seems to show Hadcrut at ~0.55 for 2015, when actually it was 0.76C.
    The Exxon forecast seems to have predicted the GMT to be a little over 0.8C
    I make that pretty damned good at ~ 0.1C diff.
    Do we know whether the emission scenario used by Exxon’s climate scientists turned out to be realistic?

    https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/monitoring/climate/surface-temperature

    Year HadCRUT4 in°C (95% confidence range) HadCRUT3 in °C (95% confidence range) NCDC in °C GISS in °C
    2016 0.77 (0.69 to 0.87) 0.81 0.89
    2015 0.76 (0.67 to 0.85) 0.78 0.77
    2014 0.58 (0.49 to 0.67) 0.62 0.64
    2013 0.51 (0.42 to 0.60) 0.46 (0.36 to 0.55) 0.54 0.56
    2012 0.47 (0.38 to 0.56) 0.40 (0.30 to 0.49)

    • ‘By eye your graph seems to show Hadcrut at ~0.55 for 2015, when actually it was 0.76C.’

      Is that .76C the raw data or after a half-dozen or so ‘adjustments’?

    • There was no emission scenario used by Exxon “scientists.”

      These were summaries of publicly available research at the time… basically review papers.

      • The “models” in the 1970’s missed the observations as badly as Hansen et al 1988 and CMIP5 today.

        Exxon was just compiling what was in the, then current, literature.

      • A monster El Nino bumping the observations into a climate model forecast range for a year or two is not even in the ballpark of a “damned good result.”

        It’s an extension of the failed AGW hypothesis from 1988 back to 1978.

  12. Of course this former State Attorney General, is going to skip appearing in court.
    Laws are for the little people.
    A self proclaimed do-gooder and planet saver should never be held accountable to the very laws he was oath sworn to obey and uphold.
    Why that would be so unfair, to hold our elites to those same rules they impose on the rest of us peons.
    Poor guy is probably on his way to file a human rights case at the UN.

  13. Al Gore is always in the photo of the Attorney Generals (Attorneys General?). I wonder if he thought that his name automatically qualified him as another AG? His movies don’t show a great depth of intellect, after all.

  14. The academic literature giveth and the academic literature taketh away.

    This also happens in genuinely scientific endeavours, where it is regarded as a healthy sign and not a problem. But in climate science it may take many many decades before bad ideas are forced out by observations. Currently, the self-appointed guardians of climate science have taken the approach of simply extinguishing the data, and careers, of people who persistently produce the “wrong” observations.

    As it stands, this scientific discipline is a broken scientific discipline. Those successful within the discipline, so convinced about certain things yet to come, really should to take the time to privately review what would happen if they changed their minds and had the courage to say so.

  15. Here is what Exxon Knew … They sold a legal product that contributed to the biggest increase in knowledge, health and standard of living in over 6 billion years of the planet’s existence .
    The self righteous are free to live in caves and warm squirrels over their cow dung fueled camp fires .
    If the politicians really believed the “earth has a fever ” they would have banned fossil fuels decades ago .
    When did they know ? Long before they flew business class home to make cocktail parties .
    Attorney Generals collecting tax payer provided salaries while acting as lobbyist’s is theft .

  16. Anybody here tell me what would happen to me if I skipped a court order to be deposed?

    I hope Shukla and the Gang of Eight and all the ugly folk who threatened, trespassed on skeptics rights, cooked, lost, destroyed data and communications and bilked government for grants exceeding university prof maximums and improper use of, enriching family members…dont get amnesty. And what about NOAA refusing to supply correspondence to a Congress committee.

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