Some four decades ago, Exxon was at the forefront of knowledge about climate change – and the impact the fossil fuel industry had on it. But in the years that followed, the company used the knowledge it had gained to sow doubt about the science its own experts believed.
That was the conclusion of a series in InsideClimate News, “Exxon: The Road Not Taken,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the winner of NPF’s Thomas L. Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing. In an NPF webinar, Neela Banerjee – one of the reporters on the series – talked about using internal corporate records for a wide-ranging historical analysis about what Exxon knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s.
The stories relied on documents from historical archives — some public, some not. But they also went far beyond those old memos, letters and scientific papers. “We knew documents were not enough,” Banerjee said. “We knew we needed people to talk about the documents.”