ExxonMobil has hit back at allegations by Friends of the Earth that it has caused five per cent of global, man-made climate changing carbon dioxide emissions over the past 120 years.

The accusation follows a new study by FoE which it says could prove vital in paving the way for compensation claims by victims of climate change resulting from man-made pollution.

It claims it is the first time that the historic contribution of one company to global climate change has been calculated, and it believes it will have significant implications for ExxonMobil’s legal exposure and its shareholders.

Not having seen the report, ExxonMobil could not comment on the basis, methodology and accuracy of the data, but company spokesman David Eglinton said FoE’s allegations concerning the company were always “high on sensation and low on substance”.

“Any allegation that ExxonMobil is not taking a constructive approach to the issue of climate change is completely and utterly unfounded,” he said. “For many years ExxonMobil has, is currently, and will continue to take a highly responsible approach to addressing the risks of climate change.

“Given the many uncertainties surrounding the important subject of climate change and the large number of global sources of carbon dioxide it beggars belief that FoE can suggest ExxonMobil is vulnerable to legal action.

“The implication of the FoE assertion is that every company that has produced oil, coal or gas has potentially been acting illegally in supplying fuels vital for society. Such a proposition is absurd.”

He said the company had taken many tangible actions which included: conserving energy in its refineries and chemical plants, resulting in 37 per cent more efficiency than 25 years ago; which equates to a decrease in

carbon emissions of more than 200 million metric tons.

Said Eglington: “Our company also supports efforts with other companies and organisations to develop common and accepted industry standards for measuring carbon emissions.”