Exxon Mobil Corp. insisted yesterday that it has not lied to its shareholders about the risks of climate change as it reacted to news that New York’s attorney general is investigating the company’s climate statements to investors.

“Exxon Mobil recognizes that climate risks are real and responsible actions are warranted,” said Ken Cohen, the company’s vice president of public and government affairs, during a press call (E&ENews PM, Nov. 5).

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has issued a “broad” subpoena dealing with “our assessment of climate change,” Cohen said.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Schneiderman’s office has requested extensive financial records, emails and other documents going back more than a decade, to a time when the Kyoto Protocol, the current climate treaty, was being discussed.

Exxon allegedly funded groups at the time to undermine climate science, according to a Greenpeace investigation.

“We were active in discussions about whether the Kyoto Protocol was an appropriate policy response,” Cohen said. “Our position, [which] continues to this day, [was] that an approach that would exclude the majority of the world’s emitters was not going to be an effective policy response to a global risk.”

Exxon began informing investors about climate risks in 2007 in regulatory filings and corporate citizenship reports. The company also began including a price on carbon in its internal business planning in 2007, which has ranged from $60 to $80 per ton, according to Yale Environment 360.

Exxon told Congress the same year that it had stopped funding climate change deniers, such as Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. But records obtained by the Climate Investigations Center show that Soon received funding from the company until 2010 (ClimateWire, March 23).

Cohen drew a distinction between the company’s policy stance and its research into climate science. The company’s scientists have published numerous studies since the 1970s and have collaborated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception, he said.

Schneiderman has reportedly been investigating Exxon for a year. His office is also investigating Peabody Energy, a large coal company, according to news reports. Beginning in September,InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times have published a series of articles finding that Exxon has a long history of climate research, which contradicts its stance on climate policy (ClimateWire, Oct. 28).

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500