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Decades of Spreading Disinformation on Climate Change Has Halted Climate Option

On Thursday, House Democrats reviewed disinformation produced by the oil industry as well as misrepresentation that has delayed climate action. Executives from industries such as Exxon Mobil, BP America, Chevron Corp. and Shell Oil were called in to testify. According to our source NPR, the meeting was modeled after a similar hearing that took place 25 years ago that held the tobacco industry accountable for misleading the public on the harmful effects of smoking. The meeting took place over zoom, approved by the House, with its primary location in Washington D.C.

Information provided by the House Committee On Oversight and Reform say that the fossil fuel industry has provided scientific evidence about the dangers of climate change for decades yet the industry still continued to spread denial and misinformation that their products caused any. By undermining the science of climate change it has prevented direct action even as its deadly impact on our environment increases, says NPR. Though these companies have continued to take public stance on their efforts in supporting climate action their actions say otherwise. Behind closed doors these companies have continued to block reforms, invest in large amounts of fossil fuel extraction, and support efforts to extend the life of fossil fuel investments. Billions of dollars are being spent on spreading climate disinformation through branding and outsource lobbying to trade groups.

Two prominent figures in discrediting the science of climate change are brothers Charles and David Koch, the conservative petrochemical magnates. Between 1997 and 2018 the Koch brothers have spent $145 million dollars towards climate-change-denying think tanks and advocacy groups. During this time Exxon joined in spending $37 million to spread misinformation. 

According to NPR’s sources, U.S. greenhouse gasses have fallen over the last 15 years but scientists say this is not to the level that is needed. Scientists say that the industry’s efforts to slow down the process of climate action has worked, putting a halt to cutting out greenhouse gasses. 

Michael Mann, a geophysicist who leads Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center says “We lost a decade of opportunity. We could have prevented much of the damage that we are now seeing play out.”

In April, President Joe Biden publicly announced an ambitious plan for the U.S. to cut emissions that drive climate change; encouraging other nations to follow. But now as Biden prepares for a vital climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland starting on Oct. 31 until Nov. 12. Biden will be joined by other countries for the 26th COP, to discuss stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and prevent dangerous changes to the climate. The main goal of this meeting is to get closer to fulfilling promises made in Paris at COP21, where countries pledged to collectively cut their greenhouse emissions enough to keep the planet from heating up more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), says NPR. 

“This is arguably the most important COP since 2015” when the Paris Agreement was signed, says Christiana Figueres, former United Nations’ climate chief. “We’re going to [go] around the table, we’re going to be transparent with each other. We’re going to say what we did. And above all, what more we are going to do.”

Blue badge diplomats from almost 200 countries will review a statement at the conclusion of the meeting, which will contain any decisions that are made. 

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