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Report: Top Companies Say One Thing, Do Another on Climate Change

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ConocoPhillips
The ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania
Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

At the same time as they advertise their concerns about climate change or talk up their commitment to reducing carbon emissions, lots of top U.S. companies distort climate science in their public communications or otherwise help spread climate misinformation, says the Union of Concerned Scientists in a new report.

The science advocacy group looked at 28 S&P 500 companies, all of them on record as fretting about climate change. Half, in their company materials, misrepresented the science on global warming, while others have "worked aggressively to undermine climate policies" through political contributions, trade group memberships, and think tank funding.

Among the worst offenders are Peabody Energy Corporation, Valero Energy Corporation, and Caterpillar Inc. Another culprit, ConocoPhillips, recognizes on its website that human activity is "contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that can lead to adverse changes in global climate," but has criticized scientific evidence on the ways climate change can harm public health in arguments to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The difference between what many of these companies say and what they actually do is quite stark," said report contributor Gretchen Goldman in a UCS statement. "And because we know only limited amounts about their activities, it’s relatively simple for companies to ... take different positions on climate change with different audiences."

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