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Exxon’s predictions about the climate crisis may have increased its legal peril


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Further revelations of the extent of Exxon’s historical knowledge of the unfolding climate crisis may have deepened the legal peril faced by the oil giant, with several US states suing the company for alleged deception, claiming their cases have now been strengthened.

A research paper published last week found that from the 1970s onwards, Exxon climate scientists “correctly and skillfully” predicted climbing global temperatures, rising by around 0.2C a decade due to the burning of fossil fuels, often matching or surpassing the accuracy of projections by independent outside scientists.

Geoffrey Supran, lead author of the new study, which was gleaned from a trove of internal documents and published scientific papers, said it was “breathtaking” to see Exxon’s projections line up so closely with what subsequently happened.

Despite this knowledge, Exxon executives spent several decades downplaying or denying the climate impact of its business practices, helping stymie action to curb the use of fossil fuels and prevent dangerous global heating. As recently as 2013, Rex…

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