The Viridian Design Movement

Subject: Viridian Note 00371: Hex on Exxon

Key concepts:
Exxon-Mobil, Greenpeace, culture-jamming
Attention Conservation Notice:
it's political

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From: Kert Davies <kert.davies*>
To: Bruce Sterling <bruces*>
Subject: FW: [Usa-staff] Oil Sector Story on XOM
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 17:04:41 -0400

"Thought you might appreciate this bit of agit-prop. I'm sure you caught wind of our invasion of the HQ building before their annual meeting as well. Fun."

(((Thanks for keeping us Viridians in the loop, Kert!

(((Ladies and gentlemen, quite frankly, I have some qualms about this kind of culture-jamming. It seems to me to tread close to forgery. But let's be realistic here. This is EXXON-MOBIL we're talking about! These marauders are beyond the pale of civilization.)))

"Here's the article from OPIS == the oil industry newspaper."


"Head: ExxonMobil under 'green' attack

"About 700 journalists, oil analysts, shareholders, and company executives this week are receiving in the mail large white envelopes emblazoned with the familiar ExxonMobil logo and the words 'Revised Annual Report Enclosed.'

"Recipients are bound to think that the official- looking correspondence comes directly from the oil company. They should think again. The mailing comes from Greenpeace.

"The faux annual report, a pointed and slickly produced satire, takes the oil company to task for what Greenpeace and other groups contend is a poor environmental record. The spoof pulls no punches. For example, the real report depicts three globes, whereas the fake report features the same globes, but they're on fire.

(((So is our own globe, but who's counting.)))

"To be sure, ExxonMobil is coming under ferocious fire from shareholder and environmental groups that want the company's shareholders to support global-warming resolutions at its annual meeting May 28 in Irving, Texas.

"ExxonMobil is steadfastly against the resolutions. (((Exxon-Mobil also lavishly supports black-propaganda efforts that attack climate science.)))

"In a separate activist campaign that seeks the same goals, the two strongest institutional evaluation services in the United States == Institutional Shareholder Services and the Investor Responsibility Research Center == this month published reports increasing pressure on ExxonMobil shareholders to vote 'yes' on the resolutions.

"The resolutions that will be voted on by ExxonMobil shareholders on May 28 call on the company to create the following:

  • "a report on the risks presented by climate change and how ExxonMobil will mitigate those risks (Item 14 on the Proxy Card);
  • "a report on how the company will respond to regulatory, competitive, and public pressure to develop renewable energy (Item 15 on the Proxy Card); and
  • "greater balance on its corporate board by separating the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (Item 9 on the Proxy Card).

(((It would likely help a lot with this last bullet-point, if Lee Raymond of Exxon-Mobil were sent to The Hague to face trial.)))

"Previous to the shareholder group actions, pressure on the oil company already was mounting. Notably, Campaign ExxonMobil released on May 13 a 29-page report from London-based Claros Consulting charging that ExxonMobil is alone among the four major oil companies refusing to adopt any strategy to counter global warming."

(((Look, that's not a "charge." That's a fact.)))

"Campaign ExxonMobil is a non-profit organization that represents shareholders who are concerned about how ExxonMobil is failing to respond to the problem of climate change.

"The entire campaign == especially Greenpeace's clever bit of agit-prop == is causing considerable anger in the corporate suites of ExxonMobil.

"'We've been a target of organizations like Greenpeace for some time,' said Tom Cirigliano, spokesperson, ExxonMobil. 'None of this is new; these measures have been soundly defeated before by our shareholders, and they will again on May 28. Our shareholders know that we're doing something about climate change and we take it seriously == we're doing a lot more than Greenpeace is doing!'

(((Boy, that's for sure. Exxon-Mobil probably spews more carbon in an hour than Greenpeace has in 30 years.)))

"Cirigliano asserted that ExxonMobil is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology and research that will make meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases and other emissions. 'While we're doing that, Greenpeace is spending a lot of money on meaningless and expensive PR gimmicks like this sham annual report,' he said. 'If I were a member of Greenpeace, I'd have real questions about the money and effort they've put into this. It shows their usual lack of judgment. From a PR perspective, it's not even effective communications. Most people won't take the trouble to read this; they're preaching to their own choir with this satire.'"

(((Great job with the budget analysis there; sadly, Greenpeace is not a for-profit operation. so they get to throw away money on really weird stuff.)))

"He cited several anti-pollution initiatives that ExxonMobil is pursuing, such as its collaboration with Toyota and General Motors on fuel cell technology, which he said has the potential to greatly reduce auto emissions. 'Meanwhile, I don't know how many trees this brochure may have killed,' Cirigliano said. 'The picture I get is a group of environmentalists sitting around and putting this out and snickering about it, as if they're comedy writers on Saturday Night Live. It's sophomoric. In a way, I'm glad they did it, because it shows just how shallow they are.'

((("Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous" == Voltaire)))

"Indeed, ExxonMobil has been receiving a slew of complaints from petroleum analysts and shareholders about the mailing, and the company is in discussions with federal, state and local authorities to evaluate any potential legal remedies against Greenpeace.

((("Making fun without a license"? I wonder how many trees those lawyers will kill with their legal briefs.)))

"Cirigliano also dismissed the concerns and tactics of the shareholder pressure groups. 'We've been in contact with them, and we're disappointed with them,' he said. 'They did this last year. But again, an unbiased look at our environmental record disputes their assertions.'

"Not surprisingly, Greenpeace begs to differ.

"'It seems that we have struck a raw nerve with ExxonMobil,' said Greenpeace spokesperson Ben Stewart. 'For starters, the report was published on recycled paper. Moreover, we're not snickering, because global warming is not funny. (((Okay, we Viridians will be willing to do the snickering for everybody. I hope that settles that.)))

"For ExxonMobil to claim that it takes climate change seriously = now, that's funny. This company is universally accepted as being the most woeful oil company when it comes to global warming. They've tried to sabotage every meaningful effort to tackle climate change, but for them, the bottom line is all that counts. They should spend less time feigning indignation over our campaign, and more time joining the global community in finding ways to tackle global warming.' (((It's the truth.)))

"Peter Altman, national coordinator, Campaign ExxonMobil, echoed those remarks. 'We are working to educate investors about the risk that ExxonMobil faces,' Altman said 'That's right; the company faces risks and doesn't just pose them. There are risks for not only the earth's climate but for the entire oil sector, upstream and downstream, because governments and industry around the world recognize the threat that climate change represents for the environment and also to economies.'

(((There's no question that Exxon-Mobil makes the best fall-guy for any government, party or movement anywhere that has been wounded by climate change and is feeling vengeful and retributive. Not only do they obfuscate, lie, and greenwash, but they've got a track-record decades long. Add climate wreckage a couple of oil wars and maybe a depression to that, and oh my goodness.)))

"He said insurance companies, for example, increasingly recognize the business risks of global warming, because it will change water flows, agriculture, and natural weather cycles, generating enormous insurance liabilities. He pointed to a report recently issued by Munich RE, the largest reinsurance company in the world, which stated that global warming, if left unchecked, would impose worldwide economic costs of $300 billion per year by 2050.

"'There is increased potential for severe storms to wipe out multimillion dollar homes along Florida beachfront,' Altman pointed out. 'Also, hurricanes threaten oil platforms and refineries. ExxonMobil is not investing in alternative energy sources beyond its core business, so it faces a risk to its bottom line if there's a major shift to, say, renewable energy. There's already a pattern around the world where governments are shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy; companies like ExxonMobil could get caught flatfooted.'

"Altman hastened to add that Campaign ExxonMobil doesn't play any part in Greenpeace's fake annual report. Greenpeace is engaged in its own campaign, using pressure tactics with the public against ExxonMobil. Meanwhile, shareholder and green groups said their complaints against ExxonMobil aren't a product of their own subjective bias; they insist that the company is far behind its competitors, such as Shell, BP and Chevron, which are investing billions in renewable energy.

"'We don't expect ExxonMobil to get out of the oil business tomorrow,' Altman said. 'What we want is for the company to diversify and make investments in renewable energy, because that would be a sound business decision. ExxonMobil is not responding to this issue in a way that would protect long-term shareholder value. The company needs to come up with strategies."

John Persinos

Gary Cook
Climate & Energy Campaign Coordinator Greenpeace USA
702 H Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 319-2494
Fax: (202) 462-4507
e-mail: gary.cook*

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