tv Doc Film - The Climate Cover- Up - Big Oils Campaign of Deception Deutsche Welle March 11, 2018 10:15am-11:00am CET
pictures like these are becoming more and more common as climate change alters the world we live in but leading governments are doing little or nothing about it the united states will withdraw from the paris climate accord. donald trump's cabinet include several former oil executives who play down climate change. there is no model that is yet been developed a scientist would say as culpable as predicting the future. but some lawyers in the us say big oil is lying prosecutors in new york of sued exxon mobil and other companies in a multi-billion dollar case. in every fossil fuel company not it has a responsibility to be honest with his investors and with the public the first amendment ladies and gentlemen just like give you the right to commit fraud. carol moffatt has also been trying to get to the bottom of the sly. he's found documents that he
says prove auto companies have been researching climate change for sixty years without informing the public of the results so the oil industry knew from the one nine hundred forty s. and fifty's that there was a connection between the sea level rise and carbon in the this is one of the biggest scandals in global history. just big oil new why didn't do nothing about global warming. the trail of secret files leads us to washington d.c. where we arrange a meeting with the man who discovered and published them for years. the company trades in germany under the name l. so. why should they have kept a lid on this knowledge. so.
i said if your. lawyer carol moffatt works for an environmentalist nongovernmental organization. he shows us studies related to possible climate change and its effects back in one nine hundred fifty seven the brennan report examined the effects of vehicle exhaust on our atmosphere it was commissioned by exxon mobil. and the one nine hundred sixty eight robinson report conducted by the stanford institute and commissioned by the american petroleum institute and industry federation we have it there in black and white here are a few things that they said about carbon dioxide if c o two levels continue to rise at present rates it is likely that noticeable increases in temperature could occur however there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe although there are other possible sources for the additional c o two now being observed in the. atmosphere none seems to fit the presently observed
situation as well as the fossil fuel emanation theory this device was delivered to the oil industry at its very top levels and we can prove that we can prove that high level executives in all of the companies solve this before. so one nine hundred sixty eight the robinson report was already warning the oil industry that vehicle exhaust was probably driving global warming. what did you do when you voted for him and the answer is that they immediately asked the sanford research institute to go back and check its work they didn't like these conclusions so they said try again they tried to deny and in reporting to the government they began cherry picking. and highlighting only the passages out of this report that talked about the uncertainties not about the reality this is a story we'll see over and over again with the oil industry so that the doubt
becomes the message it's a very effective form of propaganda. has the evidence to back up his claims you know to compare the original robinson report with the revised version so when the exactly two people in the industry start this game of cloak and dagger. as we drive through washington moffatt explains that big oil was already trying to deflect attention before they even began scientific climate research with the huge increase in car traffic in the one nine hundred forty s. . i'm thinking this is how it started and this is why it started in los angeles in the one nine hundred forty s. as cars were exploding the automobile economy was exploding los angeles was plagued by smog and when the people of los angeles started looking to oil and gas as the reason for small the industry started fighting back and it was that fighting back that led in december one nine hundred forty six to the creation of the smoke and
fumes committee and to the oil industry's grand strategy to combine science with public relations to constantly delay action on a range of air pollution measures that began with smog but soon expanded to include sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide the main driver of climate change. the smoke and fumes committee had one main goal to forestall any attempt to legislate against pollution its president vance jenkins made this unmistakably clear in one thousand nine hundred fifty four. the worst thing that can happen in many instances is the passage of a law or laws for the control of a given air pollution situation. big oil began assembling a network company supported colleges and think tanks like the stanford research institute was donations they returned the favor with specific studies studies like the robinson report which returned unsavory results were revised. forty years later
exxon mobil executives were still pretending that these studies were never conducted. warming. higher levels of greenhouse gases are causing the world to have been years in a row and that earning. money to begin to. lose whether human egg. roll used its advanced knowledge. to sow doubt and stymie legislation that might hobble it but was this the only reason to secretly investigate global warming we drive two hundred kilometers to pennsylvania to visit a former exxon mobil employee. to area of the delaware river has been a shipbuilding center for hundreds of years one of those ships belong to exxon
mobil. in one thousand nine hundred ninety oil giant refitted a three hundred meter long tanker for an expedition to the arctic. much of what exxon did with the voyage it held in secrecy this is a company that was very good at controlling what went on to say. they had every incentive to try adding find a route through the sea ice to get that oil to market where they also looking at the long term prospects of a melting arctic. indeed the official reason given for the voyage was to look for a shipping passage to access reserves in alaska but carol moffat believes that exxon mobil wanted to find out when pack ice might start melting clearing the way for shipping. the voyage itself was really remarkable they brought the ship for retrofitting here to chester pennsylvania just theaters across the bridge
and on to the good times because first they cut the shebeen to four pieces and the senate to the senate to shipyards across the country so they could rebuild it and retrofit it and they brought it back to the sun and the sun shipyards and put it back together and then sailed it out under this bridge. did the exxon mobil executives already know back then that the pack ice was likely to start melting in the near future one of the scientists aboard the s.s. manhattan was and when clark. was it perhaps his job to find out if and when that might happen. we tracked down edwin clarke and he agreed to talk for the first time about his work for exxon mobil and the company's motives. hello gentlemen clerk it's nice to meet you adam careless to me children i think i mean very nice to meet you tillman. we drive to the shipyard docks of chester with edwin
clark this is one of the places where the s.s. man was retrofitted in one nine hundred sixty nine. twenty years later the shipyard shut down. well i can remember the manhattan sitting between two gates of this nature welders working on each side. and what was your first impression when you thought. it's big big big big. and i was so i was very proud to be selected as the only scientist on a. man at morris the first tankard across the northwest passage to voyage forty eight years ago proved that oil transports across the arctic sea are feasible for me one of the really interesting questions is how much of the possibility of climate change was in the atmosphere you know in the lead up to the manhattan expedition. i didn't really hear about it until in sixty nine i went on to
work on the trance alaska pipeline and it was a year or two after that that we started putting a provision in there for an increase in soil temperatures due to global warming really you know that's amazing you know what two or three years after that that that's that's that's really that's really that's really incredible to hear. back in sixty nine there were proponents and doubters that it really is. this student in the scientific community was was divided on that subject. that they knew you took into account the risk in and started planning for. well even though yes we did.
so edwin clark and ice researcher in the pay of exxon mobil already knew forty seven years ago that the climate was changing he and other scientists were already using the knowledge of global warming back in one nine hundred seventy four the planning and construction of the trans alaska pipeline the melting permafrost made it easier to drive these piles into the ground. and when clark's colleagues at exxon mobil were also building the oil rigs in the arctic at the same time did they already have access to secret knowledge about climate change. our search for new evidence to back up my foot's theory takes just. an engineer who worked for shell oil company in the one nine hundred sixty s. he doesn't want to appear on camera. though the roberts. doesn't tell you and thank you for your time no problem how can i help you when did it all start well shall send me to ask. you about the time change as it is. mentioning to us not really being question being experimenters
the question was how we create what's going on because they are very important importance or sunders reiner we are. quietly asked. would be ice scriver recurve you why didn't you change plantings of these constructs of those ice breakers decrease so that was made to pay for good sign under nineteen sixties conditions and our own conditions future are stable. be that severe. so the first flight for you designed still for a t.v. deers operating. we want to confirm these claims and take a look at the platform a journey from washington involves a nine hour flight to anchorage alaska is largest city and a four hour drive across the kenai peninsula where crude oil has been extracted
since one nine hundred sixty three. the company responsible did not respond to our inquiries so we hitched a lift on a fishing boat accompanied by the environmental activist bob shavelson he's been battling for years against the pollution caused by the oil companies in the area. molesters on the front lines of rapid climate change we're seeing a bad steer that there are not safe anywhere else in the united states and if you look in the arctic area we have our sea ice is diminishing minute in a decade or so there may be no more sea ice in the arctic that's an incredible impact the permafrost that buys into the ground is melting so infrastructure roads and houses are falling and so there's real quantifiable him back but i'm
a change that we're seeing now and that's something that we're talking theoretically about the future. finally we arrive at our destination platform eight built by the shell engineer and his colleagues. did he already know that the ice would be thinner in the future and a parade would last as a result. fisherman robert ma and his niece are getting their nets ready their fishing grounds are in the same area as the oil rigs. this blood from a i spoke to the engineer will build that and he sent them to use the findings on climate change and they always think c.s. to recalls like that or if they knew that it would be less ice in the future so does this surprise you no not at all i think they've known about it for many many decades and they've just chosen to suppress that information and they realize that all they have to do is say that there's some doubt about this and there's
a question about this and they pay people to raise those questions you say oil companies are betraying the public oh absolutely yeah i think they're acting in a in a private interest when they should be acting in the public interest and i think it's a crime i think it's a set of theft not only for current generations but future generations were robbing from our children and that's wrong we're doing it in the in the name of money. that when he was planning the construction of the oil rig he made use of a study about pack ice from one nine hundred fifty seven did this report already feature findings about global warming was the commissioning company shell already aware of this and similar studies in the one nine hundred sixty s. we double checked the answers with carol moffatt. but what do you think about that it's not a coincidence that you really. want to be i. think
. there is or there. are exchanges with ten various engineers a yield pieces of a larger puzzle. the whole rig and coke and look to appears to have been the first example of an oil company adapting to climate change the permafrost was melting engineers took this into account when building the trans alaska pipeline they carried out research into the powerful storms in the gulf of mexico to make sure any oil rigs built there. would be able to withstand future threats and as sea levels rose engineers raised the height of several refineries and rigs along the coast of canada. the norwegian oil rig troll was also built two metres higher in one thousand nine hundred nine. and a gas pipeline between germany and norway was heavily reinforced in the early one nine hundred ninety s.
these facilities were expensive and the cost of upgrading them was in the billions these investments are an indication that the oil companies were already allowing for the effects of climate change at a time when scientific research into the phenomenon was still in its infancy. what do they already know did big oil really have its own secret research program for decades beforehand. our research leads us to new jersey home to a geochemist who worked on a study on behalf of the board of exxon. and he invited us to visit him. oh. good to see you at what governor yes that's me. edward garvey worked for exxon mobile from one nine hundred seventy eight to one thousand eighty three. so this is your day off you're all an old x.
on the long night as that so my helmet still still fits. and the coveralls. ok work safely as though prevent accidents ok i don't fit in any more. so you did the measured c o two emissions and that right when i was wearing this we were installing equipment nor a tank or even measurements of sea water we made measurements of the air we did it almost continuously as the ship and the gulf of mexico to the persian gulf in the horn of africa. big oil must have known that the climate was changing the aim of this research project was to better understand change it was so important that exxon mobil shot a film with edward garvey for its shareholders the research took four years and cost about four million u.s. dollars today garvey grows tomatoes. right come on just a bit of just really good climate to produce tomatoes here can you pick one. edward
garvey was privy to the results of the study. what has been your findings on so that well as the whole map of the oceans c o two levels so that was it was an important step in understanding the role of the ocean in governing atmosphere q two it was so new and challenging that it really went my appetite for the kind of work and the scientists i work with they were all excited as well it was just a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in-house within the science itself and you know when all we have we we presented to the corporate board by me but the but the but the my boss for that of the corporate board and. the only executives cut funding for the project officially because there was no money for it at the same time they so doubt about the accuracy of the study's findings according to. the oil industry was an early investor in the idea that climate change is actually
caused by changes in the sun that very ation in the sun it is a major driver of climate variation and that's an argument that we seek. denial is using to this day and so in that way the oil industry's early investments really paid off over the long term. garvey agrees. we still have a government let's think of denials that we had a tax on a decade ago and they could have been leaders but instead they did they chose not to and they really were in a position in the seventy's in the early eighty's where they could have been in a position of leadership where they would have the size that they were doing would have been taken seriously and they would've been listening to the good work that we were doing and i was just it's frustrating and frustrating that's. we've known about this problem for a long time and it's just it's just. guys are really frustrated. we asked exxon mobil to comment on the robinson reports and work garvey c o two
studies and whether the company took account of climate change in its planning the company did not respond. to propaganda strategy involved companies commissioning their own research casting doubt on the results and thus questioning the existence of climate change but does big oil still use the same approach. we visit communication specialist sebastian schrock in new york he works on the sixteenth story of an office block in manhattan . truck provides consulting services to american and german energy firms. until it's five it's then it's always easier to sew doubts than it is to convince someone of the truth. that the p.r. experts call it narrative that it's one of many different perspectives that all lay claim to be true. and invites even exxon mobil would no longer claim that climate
change is not a problem they know exactly what is going on even sometimes even of us. public. listed companies are under closer scrutiny now than they were fifty years ago they must account exactly for what they spend and take in they have to get other people to do the dirty work for them yes i get this and i know that's the idea that's why in my view there are networks that specialize in what you might call semi public relations and. the kind of slime that way they can cover up who is financing certain things without breaking any laws when it decide gagan. because that's officials of the ball in its infancy and basically what they need is a couple of studies some kind of scientific or semi scientific authority. teet. there are a range of research institutes that basically deliver results on demand especially in the energy business if you can still even got it but they have to get funding
that doesn't is the thing and cns cost that depending on the survey and the subject matter studies can cost anything from fifty thousand two hundred thousand euros or even more. if you really have a lot of money you create your own research institute and that's how it's done in the us and it is in the research is basically in one direction only itself please when you can be scientific or some reason tipper gore even pseudo scientific. and defaults to. climate change is no longer a priority in the highest echelons of u.s. politics president trumps cabinet and include several former representatives of the energy industry. most of them are climate change deniers. attorney general jeff sessions prevented investigations at the exxon mobil energy secretary rick perry says he doesn't believe in climate change neither does e.p.a. chief scott pruitt science tells us that the climate changes and then human
activity in some manner impacts that change their ability to measure with perception the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue secretary of state rex tillerson was c.e.o. of exxon and insists it hasn't yet been proven how climate change will affect the world there is no model that has yet been developed that scientists would say is probable that predicting the future. president trump even fantasize about environmentally friendly coal today i'm taking bold action to follow through on that promise my administration is putting an end to the war on coal and have clean coal really clean coal last june he announced that the us would leave the paris accord on climate change. the united states will withdraw. from the paris. climate of court.
now that the nine years are in the ascendancy in washington. on november ninth two thousand and sixteen the day after donald trump was elected president carroll muffet was sued by exxon. a lawsuit demands that reveal his sources. that his colleague stephen fight was also interested in this case what was it like when you got that subpoena the day after the election. that the real irony of waking up on the morning after donald trump was elected and having having a subpoena from exxon that day. it was striking and it really it really pointed to the whole new world the dark world that we've we've entered in this war so what's that like. it's a desperate got a long way to go. one third of all members of congress are also climate change deniers. they are laughable. it is
a laughable to have a member of congress walk in to the floor of congress on a snowy day and hold up a snow ball and say because it snowed today climate change doesn't exist that is. ridiculous it is laughable and it is sad. get the seeds sown by big oil have taken root in the us through years of secrecy misleading trials and studies and targeted lobby work oil companies have succeeded in playing down climate change and preventing regulation and legislation we returned to germany to assess the situation there. germany prides itself on its environmental credentials. what are other people here to. blame global warming on fluctuations in solar radiation. in a country that's pledged to phase out power generated by fossil fuels surely the
deniers are ridiculed. true steffen rob store has been researching climate change for twenty five years in germany and abroad he says he and his colleagues are encountering increasingly hostile reactions here. not to the inside citizens. of course we scientists are alarmed by the massive levels of hostility by the hate mails the death threats even against me and my family and other research and i just when we get a call. my colleague mike man in the us has been sent packages of white powder which led to an entire university being evacuated the boy toward a girl and he was more than annoy. german environmentalists take believe that when power is essential in the fight against climate change but progress is slowing. them along you've got shares in a renewable energy cooperate if you get called a gold digger we were accused of only being interested in making money suddenly
although you are actually fighting for something good namely renewable energy you're the bad guy. that's nice and we've observed that most of the claims made by climate change deniers here in germany as well originated in the us . yet they keep popping up here. and in recent years one of the most prominent proponents was annoyed with his book. or the cold sun the title says it all because solar radiation is declining which leads to the conclusion that the climate is going to cool down which is a spectacularly false claim. i know. so far as we know this because we're going through the hottest years on record twenty fourteen twenty fifteen and twenty sixteen the hottest years on record three years in succession i call it. oil. for its foreign halter former executive for the r. w. e. power company it was the most prominent climate change deniers in germany. my
goodness that according to our calculations carbon dioxide accounts for a maximum of half of the global warming asserted by the intergovernmental panel on climate change a solar activity and ocean currents account for the rest of us. he demands to germinate postpone its energy plans be given that would give us time to adjust power generation sensibly so there will not be a climate catastrophe through chemo cut us to. foreign halters now chairman of the german foundation for wild animals. he remains firmly against wind energy. but now it's for animal protection reasons. energy companies are actively lobbying in berlin to sowing doubts and politicians minds the old strategy devised seventy years ago in los angeles works in germany to this day claudio comfort's the german institute for economic research says the
battle lines have shifted. we're seeing unlikely alliances nature activists or people purporting to protect nature are suddenly teaming up with politicians who are also against renewables or with climate change deniers. and they all share the same goal to talk down renewables publicly they claim to favor environmentalists friendly power generation but in the background they're using other means to oppose it german companies are also active lobbyists in the u.s. employees of the chemical giant buyer donated eighteen thousand dollars to republican congressman michael conaway of texas over the last six years he's a prominent climate change denier. who would change the phrase ology because it's up the. it's not not warming. and they paid thirty four thousand dollars to fred upton he casts doubt on whether anything can be done about climate change no real
science to verify that it would reduce the temperature rise if some predicted. the buyer employees in the u.s. used what is called a political action committee to donate five hundred forty four thousand dollars to climate change deniers employees of another chemicals giant b.s.f. donated five hundred fifty one thousand dollars. the sums account for some thirty percent of donations made by both companies in the past six years both companies also asked and simply support climate protection we asked them why they support climate change deniers and why they were involved with us politics. german companies can definitely profit from the political shift in the us that is because the conversations that are started there are against climate protection in favor of climate change denial or efforts to reduce emissions to postpone all that
and buy time for conventional business models that's how the companies benefit. by and tells us that the donations are for different reasons. those reasons include health and agricultural policy. the press department also writes it can hardly be avoided that the chosen candidates also include people who do not share our views for example on climate protection. b.s.f. says it is not responsible arguing that the payments were private donations by employees. the only support they receive from the company is of a logistic nature in the form of access to company infrastructure email telephone etc. how can this cycle of misinformation biased studies and lobby as i'm be broken. how can companies be made to take
responsibility. all over the world lawyers are seeking solutions they want to get the big energy companies into court and pay the price for the damage caused by their emissions. german attorney wrote a very high end it was one of them she prepared a lawsuit against the power company r. w. eak no other company in europe and that's as much c o two as our w e. these clouds from the cooling towers are basically steam. the actual blather plant emits via the chimneys and those huge chimneys who are where the real emissions come from. as in one month on my client is a peruvian mountain guide and house owner his house is in who had us
a city at the feet of the andes. looming over the city our glaciers and a little good this lagoon has grown considerably due to melting glaciers and the danger of flooding has also grown considerably it's practically a question of when there will be flooding not if. leo has to build a dam to protect his house he sued our w.e.e.e. for twenty thousand euros and damages. it was the new wires are w e responsible for a melting glacier in peru. that's one problem for really glacier in peru is not melting just because of this particular power station but this power station is part of the problem it's about the partial caused by all emissions by all power stations operated by our w.e.e.e. which also affect the local climate elsewhere including melting glaciers in the andes in. the peruvian case was initially dismissed by the regional court in hot
summers wrote over iran's lawsuit crazy or justified. the scribe some of the reactions to it naturally i was described as crazy and my suit was decried as non-legal listicle totally unjustified and it's not the kind of suit that gets brought before german courts every day but i don't think my case will be the last time even if i lose it it will not be the last because and i see this happening with my own eyes more and more potential clients are approaching me with these problems for example dyke associations individual islands mayors from communities on endangered coastlines clients from abroad. who asked me if they can bring a similar suit for the himalayas it won't be the last case of its kind because people can see the damage being caused. some people might find the case absurd a peruvian farmer sues a german power company because of climate change. but lawyers in the us are also
investigating energy companies over their role in climate change one of the highest profile cases is in new york it's not about twenty thousand euros it's about billions of dollars. the findings of carol moffat and others provided the impetus. the. attorney general eric schneiderman who's currently investigating exxon and its former c.e.o. rex tillerson trump secretary of state. they have told the public for years that there were no competent models was the specific term used by an exxon executive not so long ago no competent models to project climate patterns and we know that they paid millions of dollars to support organizations that put out propaganda denying that we can predict or measure the effects of fossil fuel on our climate or even denying that climate change was
happening the first amendment ladies and gentlemen does not give you the right to commit fraud. attorney peter lane or used to work for schneiderman's team has had to be environmental department that the attorney general's office. what is the action item an investigation of all it's not i mean is investigating whether. knew about climate change and knew. that it would cause to it the company exxon and failed to disclose those to the shareholders. what is the legal basis and i mean it's about climate changed. based totally different. legal basis is actually very simple it is shareholder fraud if a company knows that climate change is going to affect the value of the company in these cases oil companies or coal companies and they're not just closing what they know to the shareholders that can be fraud and that's really the question here to
what extent is exxon saying one thing and doing something else the attorney general's office in new york has now sued exxon and four other big oil companies meanwhile come to new york to meet. a spokeswoman for campaign cash to exxon new. my man recently organized a demonstration of two hundred thousand people take to the streets to demand better climate protection was absolutely. there is already a public distrust also feel industry we've seen and grows in trust and when you find out really all the facts on. there's. a rifle and variation. and then the sense of what you might do without it that was the goal that you know our goal in doing this research was for other people to take
the research and do more with it i don't care what i care about is fossil fuel and effects on sticks to fossil fuels and doesn't look to the future and look to a safer planet exxon will fail and i will applaud effects on the japs effects on says we're ready to be part of real solutions and we're ready to own what we did in the past and make up for what we did in the past then i will cheer at you i expect that not all that. popular trust in the big oil companies has fallen off its revelations are providing the ammunition for a lawsuit. three mayors in california brought a lawsuit some time ago third. rising sea levels. for new york. so you can see the water. that's all around new york city has many miles of shore front and.
generally are in a storm all of these areas either have already had been flooded or could be flooded and imagine trying to protect new york from these floods it would cost billions of dollars maybe they would put in a seawall there or something. billions and billions of dollars just to try to protect new york city from these new floods. be the new york city taxpayer these cities are beginning to realize there's going to have to billions of dollars to protect against the damages from sea level rise is not just nature that is climate change caused largely by the fossil fuel so you think. i think cities that will be bringing these cases have a pretty good basis for doing that you. know. investigations in new york.
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. this is the news live from berlin and historic vote in china the country's parliament passes a constitutional amendment that scraps presidential term limits and has president xi jinping free reign to rule indefinitely will this mean a return to dictatorship for the asian superpower we go live to our correspondent there jim also coming up.