A mock trial titled “Exxon v. The People” was held in Paris, so as to publicly condemn the world’s largest oil and gas company for its devastating impact on the environment.
The event took place between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, and the ones who presented the case against Exxon were bestselling author and social activist Naomi Klein, and acclaimed environmental leader Bill McKibben.
The duo launched accusations directed towards the industrial giant as part of an imitation trial which took place in the French capital. The make-believe court proceedings were moderated by a group of climate change activists, alongside indigenous rights advocates.
Throughout the trial, Exxon was charged with several “climate crimes”, and prosecutors presented substantial evidence in order to document their claims, and establish the defendant’s guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt.
They also made references to an actual inquest which has been initiated by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, in order to investigate if Exxon had known about the harmful effects of man-made activities on the environment as early as the 1970’s.
Researchers from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and investigative reporters at the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate have revealed in recent months that Exxon has been actively supporting and sponsoring individuals and organizations promoting doubt regarding global warming
Even more alarmingly, as shown by confidential memos which were now shared with the general public, these condemnable actions were undertaken even though the company had been aware that the phenomenon was in fact real, and that its consequences could be catastrophic and far-reaching.
According to journalists, the extensive campaign of misinformation and fallacious propaganda was allegedly carried out so as to further Exxon’s own activity and boost its monetary gains.
That is because the findings had clearly shown that climate change is directly influenced by the burning of fossil fuels, such as the ones produced by the corporation’s subsidiaries.
Now that Exxon has been presented with a subpoena demanding that the disclosure of all its research related to climate change, it will finally be discovered if there were indeed concerted efforts meant to mislead investors regarding global warming in the last few decades.
During the Paris fake trial however, there was no shred of evidence saving Exxon from opprobrium, as the company was finally held accountable for its misdeeds.
Several witnesses were brought to testify on behalf of “the people”, and were in perfect unison when stating that the oil and gas giant had engaged in manipulating public opinion, so as to serve its own vested interests.
For instance, Ken Henshaw, a Niger Delta energy activist, has pointed out that due to Exxon’s extensive drilling for crude oil and natural gas in West Africa, the concentration of benzene in drinking water is now 900 times more elevated than maximum contaminant levels mandated by law.
As a result of this severe pollution, locals usually die at early ages (between 43 and 46), and are also confronted with extreme weather patterns, such as extensive periods of drought, alternating with heavy rainfall.
The company’s operations are also wreaking havoc to South Louisiana’s wetlands, leaving people defenseless against hurricanes like Katrina, according to Cherri Foytlin, a representative of the Bridge the Gulf project.
Another person pleading against Exxon was Bryan Parras, co-founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, who revealed that kids whose homes are in the vicinity of the Baytown Refinery face a 56% greater likelihood of suffering from leukemia.
In fact, ethnic minorities located in the area are the most vulnerable to several types of cancer, triggered by exposure to pollutants. Similarly affected is also Houston’s Eastside section, where chemical leaks are unsettlingly common.
Last but not least, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a biologist who specializes on cancer-causing substances present in the environment, has emphasized that natural gas which is at the center of Exxon Mobil’s operations actually contributes 86 times more than carbon dioxide to the greenhouse gas effect.
At the end of the public trial, the fake court didn’t pronounce a clear verdict against the accused corporation, but called for actual justice to be served by the judicial system. Based on the findings produced by the investigation which is currently under way, Exxon might have to face a real criminal lawsuit in the near future after all.
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