Texan, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where New York prosecutors are seeking to prove that Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the costs the company faced because of climate change. Tillerson is Exxon Mobil’s former CEO.
Prosecutors say Exxon Mobil kept two sets of books – one that acknowledged the true costs associated with adhering to climate regulations, while the other indicated lower costs.
John Schwartz covers climate change for The New York Times. He says that while Tillerson was CEO, Exxon Mobil announced that it would account for the cost of climate change regulations, after pressure from activist investors.
“What the attorney general of the State of New York is saying is – internally they used different figures, lower figures, and were low-balling the cost of climate regulation,” Schwartz says.
As scientists continue to develop global standards for accounting for climate costs, the responsibility falls on companies to report the impacts. Exxon and Tillerson say the case should be thrown out.
“What the company is saying is ‘you either don’t understand how we did our business or you’re lying about how we did our business because we were straight with people’,” Schwartz says.
New York prosecutors say the issue is not which models the company used to determine its climate change-related costs, but whether the company shared a far more optimistic set of numbers with investors than it used for its own purposes.
Written by Libby Cohen.