While they’re busily fighting a climate-related investor fraud case in New York, ExxonMobil is now facing a similar lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General for hiding its early knowledge of climate change from the public and misleading investors about the future financial impact of global warming. The Massachusetts Attorney General began its investigations into Exxon after news reports from 2015 claimed that Exxon’s scientists determined that fossil fuel combustion needed to be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change. Yet, despite this shocking determination, the oil giant disregarded these findings.
Fast forward four years and the most recent lawsuit alleges that in addition to fraud and deception, Exxon has also contributed to decades of delay in market recognition of the climate dangers of fossil fuel products and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The complaint accuses Exxon of using deceptive advertising to mislead Massachusetts consumers about the central role Exxon’s fossil fuel products play in causing climate change. The oil company is also accused of falsely advertising the company as a leader in clean energy research and climate action when it is in fact among the largest corporate contributors to global warming.
The notorious oil giant has a lengthy history of deceiving Massachusetts consumers and investors about the catastrophic impacts of burning fossil fuels—its primary product—and the significant risks of climate change. In the New York lawsuit against Exxon, the state accused Exxon of falsely telling investors it had properly evaluated the impact of future climate regulations on its business, thus defrauding investors out of up to $1.6 billion. Exxon is also accused of falsely portraying itself as a leader in cutting-edge clean energy research and climate action, while in reality, the company continues to step up its fossil fuel production and spend only less than 1 percent of its revenues on developing clean energy.
Exxon also falsely claimed that its “green” gasoline products are better for the environment. This pattern of deception potentially wronged every driver who filled their tank at an ExxonMobil gas station and every investor who took the company’s assurances in good faith. Massachusetts AG states that “Contrary to its shareholder representations and deceptive advertising and marketing, Exxon’s products are a leading cause of climate change, not a solution… Our goal here is simple—to stop Exxon from engaging in this deception and penalize the company for this misconduct.”