For nearly 40 years ExxonMobil publicly raised doubt about the dangers of climate change even as scientists and execs inside the oil giant acknowledged the growing threat internally, according to a Harvard University study.
“We conclude that ExxonMobil misled the public,” the researchers wrote in the peer-reviewed study that was published on Wednesday.
The Harvard study could add to the controversy and legal scrutiny surrounding Exxon’s (XOM) handling of climate change.
Exxon dismissed the Harvard study as “inaccurate and preposterous,” saying in a statement that the research was “paid for, written and published by activists.”
The Harvard researchers examined 187 public and private communications from Exxon about climate change between 1977 and 2014, ranging from internal documents and peer-reviewed studies to company pamphlets and editorial-style advertisements in The New York Times known as “advertorials.”
The study found that the more public-facing the Exxon communication, the more doubt it expressed about climate change.
Exxon’s advertorials “overwhelmingly emphasized only the uncertainties, promoting a narrative inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists, including ExxonMobil’s own,” the Harvard study concluded.