As world leaders gathered in Rio in June 1992 for the first global climate talks, I was still in my mother’s womb. At that time, ExxonMobil was already at the forefront of climate science. As far back as the 1970s, Exxon’s own scientists warned company executives about the dangers of fossil fuel use. Instead of warning the rest of us, Exxon’s execs turned to the PR department, embarking on a decades-long campaign to sow doubt among the public, bankroll politicians and climate-denial front-groups, and block climate action at every level.

Exxon’s climate cover-up is the reason my generation was born from a planet dangerously warmer than that from which our parents were born from. Exxon’s climate cover-up is the reason we have been plagued by a phony debate about climate change for decades.

In the face of this deception, we must rise up. We may not have the money of Exxon and its fossil fuel ilk, but we have something it will never have: people power. And we have proved time and time again that people power works.

That’s the exact message we brought when we rallied and delivered a letter, signed by over 350 New York groups, to New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman supporting his investigation into all that Exxon knew. The ongoing investigations by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are more crucial than ever to hold Big Oil accountable. As climate impacts intensify, there is no room left for neutrality.

As we experience the warmest February temperatures in history, we’re reminded that this is some of what climate change looks like. It looks like Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy; massive flooding of New York’s subway system, over 8 million people without electricity, costing New Yorkers over $65 billion in damages.

Communities across the country are already confronting the devastating impacts of climate change. But it’s low-income communities, communities of color and workers who bear the brunt of the crisis they did the least to contribute to. Vulnerable communities bear the costs as Exxon exploits people and planet all in the name of profit.

During the Paris climate talks, we organized a trial of The People vs. ExxonMobil, gathering scientists, lawyers and frontline community members — from the Gulf South to the Niger Delta to the Indigenous Sami tribe in the Arctic — to share just how Exxon’s climate cover-up has devastated the lives and livelihoods of their communities.

This caught the attention of many, including Texas Representative Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Science Committee. Smith went on to subpoena, as well as 8 other NGOs and the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, for our work to hold Exxon accountable. Despite Rep Smith’s best attempts, we won’t be distracted or intimidated.

The fossil fuel industry has long wielded its inappropriate influence over our democracy and economy. The only difference now, under the Trump administration, is that it actually is our government. With Exxon’s Rex Tillerson now our Secretary of State, and bought-and-paid-for industry ally Rep. Smith unleashing subpoenas, we must continue to shine a brighter spotlight on all that #ExxonKnew.  Together, we will hold Exxon and Rex Tillerson accountable, resist the systems that attempt to divide us, and fight to build the brighter future we know is possible.


You can learn more at, and join the People’s Climate Mobilization on April 29 as we mobilize for climate, jobs and justice. Lindsay Meiman is a 24-year-old native New Yorker working for climate justice as the US Communications Coordinator with

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