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EU Parliament Urged to Strip ExxonMobil Lobbyists of Access Badges

FILE - The Exxon Mobil logo is shown at a gas station in Denver, Colorado, US.

The European Parliament faced calls Thursday to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access badges after the US oil giant missed the assembly's first hearing into claims it knowingly misled the public on climate change.

Greens deputy Molly Scott Cato told the hearing in Brussels she would formally make the request later Thursday to deny ExxonMobil its six registered parliament access badges.

Activists and scientists told the hearing that ExxonMobil has for decades misled the public about the threat climate change poses to the world, comparing it the tobacco lobby's past campaign.

Under parliamentary rules, Cato said, "lobbyists shall have their access badges denied" when they refuse without good reason to comply with a formal summons to attend a committee hearing or inquiry.

"I believe this provides us with grounds we need to withdraw Exxon's lobby badges," the British MEP said, adding she would write a letter to that effect later Thursday.

Her call was supported by MEP Eleonora Evi, who sits on the petition and environment committees that hosted the first EU public hearing into Exxon's approach to climate change.

In a letter dated Wednesday, ExxonMobile said the oil company is "constrained from participating because of ongoing climate litigation in the United States."

It said it was concerned that public commentary, including at the Brussels hearing, "could prejudice those pending proceedings," according to a copy obtained by AFP.

Geoffrey Supran, a Harvard University researcher, told the panel that Exxon has known since 1959 that fossil fuel burning "was sufficient to melt the ice cap and submerge New York" but yet publicly cast doubt on the threat for years.

A peer-reviewed study of nearly 200 documents spanning decades and co-authored by Supran found that four-fifths of scientific studies and internal memos acknowledged global warming is real and caused by humans.

At the same time, a similar proportion of hundreds of paid editorials in major US newspapers over the same period cast deep doubt on these widely accepted facts, according to the study published last year.

"The most fundamental thing this [Brussels] hearing does is start to put the evidence on record," Supran told AFP.

"It also adds momentum and precedent to calls for US Congress and other governments to hold similar hearings into what Exxon and the entire fossil fuel industry knew and did about climate change," he said.

In 2017, the European Parliament decided to deny access to Monsanto executives and lobbyists after the US agro giant turned down an invitation to a hearing over claims Monsanto influenced scientific research on a weedkiller's safety.