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How Climate Fraud Is Creating Compliance Career Opportunities

Posted by: Charis Fisher 23 Jun 16  | Climate Change |  Sustainability

The climate fraud controversy surrounding Exxon Mobil continued early this week with the sending of a letter in defence of the oil corporation.

Addressed to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the letter hit back at the company’s potential prosecution for allegedly withholding data on the contribution of fossil fuels to the global increase in temperature. This controversy recently sparked lively debate worldwide, resulting in the hashtag #ExxonKnew on Twitter.

More on this subject: Do employee rewards help incentivitise businesses to combat climate change?

A violation of free speech…

The letter, which has been signed by thirteen state Attorneys General, is certainly a divisive document. Why? It claims that this perceived intrusion of legal authorities in a public policy issue (climate change) infringes free speech.

According to this logic, if an organisation can be prosecuted for understating the effects their operations have on the environment, climate change campaigners should also be prosecuted if they exaggerate these same effects for their own gain.

Naturally, it is a concern if the US Government does move to prosecute for climate research that differs from its own point of view, since it is at least partially a question of scientific free speech.

…or climate fraud?

Yet, though this may be a rational way of thinking, we shouldn’t forget that the accusations of climate fraud against Exxon Mobil do not appear to be unfounded.

Inside Climate News has reported that Exxon Mobil were warned by scientists decades ago about the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels, supposedly as early as in 1977. The company is then said to have consequently redirected its attentions towards climate change denial.

Anxiety breeds compliance

Whether or not Exxon Mobil did withhold data, this relatively new threat of prosecution – climate fraud – has got corporations anxious. The more concerned companies are about meeting compliance requirements, the more they will want to invest in sustainability hiring.

This trend in recruiting sustainability experts has been growing steadily since the COP21 Paris Agreement was adopted in December last year. The treaty set a global temperature limit of 2°C, which will be a tough target for corporations to achieve.

Equally, almost one quarter of respondents rated climate change as a top trend for employment over 2016 in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum.

Sustainability: is a skills gap inevitable?

This rise in recruitment represents a big opportunity for specialists in environmental compliance. Hopefully, as a result of the prosecution of climate fraud and the Paris Agreement, authorities will recognise the need for investment in training for sustainability professionals.

Before long, there will not be enough candidates in the market to provide compliance solutions for corporations. Without an increase in the number of sustainability specialists, meeting the needs of the Paris Agreement and combatting climate fraud will remain far-off objectives.

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