Royal Society and ExxonMobil

04 September 2006

The Society welcomes open debate, underpinned by sound science, on the subject of climate change. In September 2006, the Royal Society wrote to ExxonMobil to express concern that some of its corporate publications were presenting a misleading view of the scientific evidence about climate change and were over-emphasising uncertainties about what we do and don't know. This letter followed a meeting which had taken place at the request of ExxonMobil where the Society raised concerns about Exxon's position on climate change and the company's funding of lobby groups that misrepresented the science. At the meeting ExxonMobil indicated that it intended to stop funding these organisations. The letter asked for clarification as to when the company would carry out this pledge. Although we have exchanged further letters with ExxonMobil, it has still not addressed this issue.

As the UK's national academy of science, the Royal Society has a responsibility to speak out when scientific evidence is misrepresented. We will continue to do this on climate change and on other issues.
It is essential that the scientific evidence on climate change is accurately represented so that policymakers, industry, the public and other stakeholders can make informed decisions about what actions to take.
In particular, it is important to note that:

  • The Royal Society's objective is to promote debate on climate change and to ensure that it is informed by sound science; it is not our intention to stifle debate.  
  • The Society has never objected to the funding of scientific research by ExxonMobil. We actively promote scientific research that seeks to improve our understanding of climate change. 
  • We do have concerns about ExxonMobil's funding of lobby groups that seek to misrepresent the scientific evidence relating to climate change.