Patent archives reveal that oil companies pursued technologies to cut the CO2 emissions that cause climate change since the 1960s - including early versions of batteries now implanted in electric cars like the Tesla.
Esso, the forerunner of ExxonMobil, obtained at least three patents for fuel cells and others for low-polluting vehicles in 1970. Phillips and Shell also patented technologies to use fuel more efficiently.
However, the American Petroleum Institute, the leading oil lobby, opposed government funding for electric cars, telling Congress in 1967: "We object that the basic assumption that clean air can be obtained only by seeking an alternative to the motor. internal combustion. "
The patent files were among a new handful of documents published by the Center for International Environmental Law and deepens Exxon's public and legal challenge. All this is in addition to the campaign organized by the oil company to undermine scientists and climate science, creating think tanks to block actions against climate change and confuse public opinion.
"What we see is a set of patents that demonstrate that these companies had the necessary technologies and could have commercialized them to help correct CO2 pollution," said Carroll Muffett, president of Ciel. "So they went to Congress to say they didn't need to invest in the electric car because the research was continuing and it was robust."
In another landmark document, a Canadian subsidiary of Exxon admitted that the company had technology to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half. However, a 1977 company memo says it would be very expensive - doubling the cost of power generation, according to documents obtained by the Desmog blog.