A still taken from the Exxon Files' online video
An environmental group today took aim at ExxonMobil with the launch of an online video attacking the oil giant's green credentials.
The Exxon Files, from Friends of the Earth Europe, sets out claims that the US-based corporation funds climate change deniers in Europe and the US.
The animated video, which spoofs the X-Files TV series, features two fictional agents - Deny Fully and Rexx Tiller, of the Federal Bureau of Inconvenience - who are hired by ExxonMobil to hide the truth about the negative environmental impact of its business.
To achieve this they secretly fund scientists, thinktanks and lobbyists sceptical about climate change.
Christine Phol, a campaigner for FoE Europe, said: "ExxonMobil invests millions of euros funding thinktanks and lobbyists committed to blocking internationally agreed policies to combat climate change whilst at the same time spending major sums on advertising designed to present itself as an environmentally responsible company."
The group wants viewers of the video to register their support online for a planned complaint to Belgian authorities over Exxon adverts at Brussels airport.
In the ads, Exxon claims to be reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. But FoE Europe said data from the company's corporate citizenship report showed Exxon's CO2 emissions increased by 8.7m metric tons from 2003 and 2006.
Paul de Clerck, another FoE Europe campaigner, said the adverts were one example of ExxonMobil's "deliberately misleading advertising campaign".
"The 'greening' of oil giant Exxon is nothing more than a slick public relations exercise," he said. "Instead of spending millions of manipulating the facts, they should make real efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
An ExxonMobil spokesman rejected the criticism. He said: "The recycling of this type of discredited conspiracy theory only diverts attention from the real challenge at hand: how to provide the energy needed to sustain and improve global living standards while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
He said ExxonMobil was taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and was also "supporting research into technology breakthroughs and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options".
Citing examples, he said the company was working with car manufacturers on programmes that could lead to fuel economy improvements, and partnering with the European Commission to study carbon capture and storage technologies.
ExxonMobil has been criticised in the past for backing organisations that are sceptical about climate change. Last year the Royal Society called on Esso, the UK arm of ExxonMobil, to withdraw support for dozens of groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".