Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Letter to the Editor: Greenwashing Cloud Over Fiesta


Submitted by Lora Lucero, Albuquerque resident

The beauty of the hot air balloons is marred this year by the greenwashing cloud hanging over the Fiesta.

ExxonMobil has been anointed the Presenting Sponsor and the official name of the fiesta is now the ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA® POWERED BY EXXONMOBIL.

I can recall the very first balloons ascending in the fall of 1972 from Albuquerque’s Coronado Mall when the global CO2 level measured about 329 ppm and most of us were blissfully unaware of the dire impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. This month, the global CO2 level is 415 ppm and no one can claim ignorance.

The climate scientists told world leaders at the international climate conference last year that our global CO2 emissions must peak no later than 2025 and fall thereafter if we are going to have a chance to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. That window is rapidly closing.

If the public submitted a FOIA request for ExxonMobil’s documents about its position on
climate change over the past 50 years, I suspect it would reveal that ExxonMobil, like other
fossil fuel giants, at first denied that climate change was real. After the science was impossible to ignore, the industry accepted climate change but rejected the notion that humans were causing it. That position morphed into a condemnation of renewable energy because the oil and gas industry saw it as a competitor.

Most recently, the industry’s position has evolved into greenwashing, as the following statement illustrates.

"ExxonMobil is the Presenting Sponsor of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! For the next three years, this world-renowned event and a unique New Mexico tradition will be known as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta powered by ExxonMobil. As one of the largest operators in the Permian Basin, ExxonMobil has a significant and growing presence in the state. Today, the company is focused on providing products that enable modern life, reducing emissions and developing technologies that support a lower-emission future."

The scientists are clearly telling world leaders that fossil fuels must remain in the ground.

We can’t afford to uncover and exploit any more deposits of oil and gas. Doing so is inconsistent with leaving a planet capable of sustaining life for our children and their children.

ExxonMobil’s hot air about “reducing emissions” is a clever stunt to rehabilitate its image and deadly business practices, and the Fiesta organizers shouldn’t fall for it.

Lora Lucero is a longtime Albuquerque resident who attended the international climate conference COP26 as a delegate for the League of Women Voters.


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