Fossil fuel companies have funded research centers that focus on energy, the environment, and climate change at universities across the United States for years. The Center for American Progress documented ten such partnerships in 2010. Since 2014, ExxonMobil has spent at least $75 million to help establish 5 energy centers at 6 universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2014), University of Texas at Austin (2016), Stanford University (2018), and Princeton (2015). 


Princeton has $1.7 billion of fossil fuel holdings which is 4.5% of the endowment. Since 2000, ExxonMobil and BP together have given over $35 million to the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Climate Mitigation Initiative (CMI) at Princeton University. Over the last 5 years, the University has received $26.2 million in funding research from eleven oil and gas companies, with most of that coming from Exxon-Mobil and BP. Over the last 5 years, approximately 50 fossil-fuel related companies have recruited on campus

A number of Princeton trustees have links to fossil fuel companies.  

In March, 2022 Fossil Free Research published an Open Letter signed by over 500 academics saying universities must stop accepting funding from fossil fuel companies to conduct climate research.



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Between 2015 and 2020,  ExxonMobil gave $6.4 million to the Andlinger Center. Its research contract was renewed on July 2, 2020. The same day, Exxon released a video celebrating its partnership with Princeton.


While Princeton and ExxonMobil have been “working together” to create new energy technologies, ExxonMobil has been undermining any attempt to deploy them on a national scale. During the partnership, Exxon spent millions lobbying against climate change policy efforts, spent less than 1% of its budget on clean energy, and rejected a carbon neutral target (see slideshow).

From 2017 to 2021, Vijay Swarup, Exxon Mobil's Vice President of Research and Development, was on the Andlinger External Advisory Council. despite the fact that he was responsible for attacking the academic work of Harvard  researchers Naomi Oreskes and Geofrrey Supran.  


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April 2022 PBS - Frontline - The Power of Big Oil - 3 part series 


April 2022 Tricks of the Trade: Deceptive Practices, Climate Delay and Greenwashing In The Oil and Gas Industry

Drilled Season 7: The ABCs of Big Oil, a collaboration with Earther: Big Oil infiltrated schools across the country. Inside the campaign to miseducate American students. Season 7 episodes and transcripts


February 16. 2022 The clean energy claims of BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell: A mismatch between discourse, actions and investments


September 29, 2021 Exxon Mobil has been lobbying against parts of Democrats’ big social and climate spending bill

September 28, 2021 Tracing Big Oil’s PR war to delay action on climate change

September 16, 2021 U.S. House panel to probe oil companies over climate disinformation

 9/14/2021 Vermont sues 4 oil companies, alleges false info on climate 

8/6/2021 IEEFA: Months after tumultuous ExxonMobil annual meeting, no substantial change expected

July 25, 2021 Following ExxonMobil revelations, Princeton must act

June 30 2021 Unearthed video:ExxonMobil’s lobbying war on climate change legislation


June 30, 2021 Unearthed Inside Exxon’s playbook: How America’s biggest oil company continues to oppose action on climate change

June 30, 2021 Channel 4 UK: Revealed: ExxonMobil’s lobbying war on climate change legislation

June 30, 2021 New York Times In Video, Exxon Lobbyist Describes Efforts to Undercut Climate Action

October 29, 2020 Vice How Exxon Silences Staff Alarmed by the Climate Crisis, According to a Former Employee

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To discuss the Andlinger Center’s renewed partnership with ExxonMobil, Divest Princeton invited Dr. Ben Franta, an expert on climate science, climate disinformation, and fossil fuel producers at Stanford, to explain his research and answer questions about divestment.

Dr. Franta's presentation analyzes the ways in which the Andlinger Center has been co-opted by the fossil fuel industry, which has learned a great deal from Big Tobacco.

Engine No. 1 in May 2021 shocked the oil-and-gas industry when Exxon shareholders, frustrated by weak returns and the U.S. leader's flagging attention to climate concerns, elected three of its four nominated directors to Exxon's board.

Reenergize ExxonMobil //Investor Presentation - highlight slides 

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BP, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, gave over $31 million between 2000 and 2020 to Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), led by Professors Stephen Pacala, Jonathan Levine, and Amilcare Porporato (Ford Motor Company, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, was also a founding member and sponsor of CMI from 2000-2009). According to the 2019 CMI Annual Report, "Commencing in 2000 with a 10-year contract, the program has since undergone three five-year renewals with BP (2010-15, 2015-20, and the latest in 2020-25)." 


CMI is described like this on the website: 

“Based at Princeton University, the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) is an independent academic research program sponsored by BP and administered by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI). CMI is Princeton’s largest and most long-term industry-university relationship. Established in 2000, the mission of CMI is to lead the way to a compelling and sustainable solution to the carbon and climate change problem.”


With funding from both a fossil fuel producer and user, “CMI is to lead the way to a compelling and sustainable solution to the carbon and climate change problem.”



Intentional efforts by a number of organizations have created barriers to meaningful climate action. From lobbying to creating junk science websites, a panoply of coordinated activities have sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of many and effectively wasted decades. Social scientists have begun to study these efforts, who funded them and how they continue to block and delay action on climate change and steer research away from anything that might jeopardize the hegemony of the fossil fuel industry. 



Robert Brulle, April 2022 Advocating inaction: a historical analysis of the Global Climate Coalition

Divest Harvard, November 2021 Beyond the Endowment: Uncovering Fossil Fuel Interests on Campus 

Corporate Accountability, Global Forest Coalition & Friends of the Earth International, June 2021 The Big Con: How Big Polluters are advancing a net zero climate agenda to delay, deceive and deny

Influence Map How the oil majors have spent $1Bn since Paris on narrative capture and lobbying on climate

Robert Brulle 2020:Denialism: organized opposition to climate change action in the United States

Robert Brulle 2013: Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations

John Cook, Geoffrey Supran, Stephan Lewandowsky, Naomi Oreskes, Ed Maibach 2019: America Misled: How the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled Americans about climate change

Ben Franta 2021: Early oil industry disinformation on global warming

Barnard University 2018 Fossil Fuel Divestment and Climate Action Methodology

Oxford Martin Principles for Climate Conscious Investment 2018

Ben Franta 2020: The Pernicious Influence of Big Oil on America’s Universities

Ben Franta 2018: Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming

Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway 2010: Merchants of Doubt

Geoffrey Supran & Naomi Oreskes 2017: Assessing ExxonMobil's climate change communications (1977–2014)

Center for American Progress, Jennifer Washburn 2010: Big Oil Goes to College

Center for Science in the Public Interest 2008 Big Oil U 

ExxonMobil 2019 Worldwide Giving Report  pages 9 -15, pages 19-22, pages 24-27

Climate Investigations Center

Climate Social Science Network

Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Scholars at Brown for Climate Action Advancing Brown's Response to the Climate Crisis

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

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MORE ON  #breakupwithexxon

Fossil Fuel Funding 

Steve Pacala , Chris Greig , Jesse Jenkins , Eric Larson Transitioning to a Net-Zero Emitting Energy System Princeton Alumni Weekly.


Archibald, Lynne 3/23/2021 online, May 2021 in print Fossil Fuels Funding Research at Princeton Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Taylor, Tom 4/12/2021 How much is Princeton’s contract with Exxon worth? Why does it matter? Daily Princetonian


Turk, Graham 7/5/20 All hands on deck of a sinking ship? , Daily Princetonian

Loo, Lynn 7/2/20 Urgency of climate change demands all hands on deck to transform the energy system, Daily Princetonian

Takeuchi, Mayu 6/29/20 ​​Taking Responsibility: Fossil Fuels, Divestment, and Environmental Racism, Nassau Weekly 

Hiltner, Anna 6/25/20 Princeton must #BreakupwithExxon: an open letter to Andlinger from Divest Princeton, Daily Princetonian 



Kennedy, Garland 10/28/2021 Alaska Oil Industry Faces Investors' Doubts Sitka Sentinel

Joselow, Maxine 5/4/2021 Why Exxon hates the Rockefellers, its founding family, E&E News


Wall Street Journal 12/9/2020 Exxon Under Pressure From New Activist Fund

Bloomberg 12/9/2020 Exxon Holds Back on Technology That Could Slow Climate Change


Bloomberg 10/5/20 Exxon’s Plan for Surging Carbon Emissions Revealed in Leaked Documents

Washington Post 9/14/20 States and cities scramble to sue oil companies over climate change

New York Times 7/16/20 David Kaiser, Rockefeller Heir Who Fought Exxon Mobil, Dies at 50

Reuters 6/24/20 Minnesota sues Exxon, Koch and API for being "deceptive" on climate change

Washington Post 5/28/2020 ExxonMobil declines to set long-term climate goal, bucking oil industry trend

Washington Post 9/5/2020 Rockefeller heirs to Big Oil find dumping fossil fuels improved bottom line

The New Yorker 5/7/20 Big Oil’s Reign Is Finally Weakening

Forbes 3/25/19 Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies

Environmental Research Letters 7/23/17  Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)

Guardian 3/13/17 The fossil fuel industry's invisible colonization of academia

Reuters 3/23/2016 Rockefeller Family Fund hits Exxon, divests from fossil fuels

Union of Concerned Scientists 7/8/2015 Former Exxon Employee Says Company Considered Climate Risks as Early as 1981

Learn more about the fossil fuel industry's influence at Princeton with our three-part series: "Money and Power at Princeton: What we see and what we don't."

Lynne Archibald, Naomi Cohen-Shields, Joseph Giguere, Alex Nguyen, and Tom Taylor (2/9/2021). Donors Fund Climate Denial: How Princeton’s Money Trail Undermines Its Own Research. Daily Princetonian.

Lynne Archibald, Naomi Cohen-Shields, Joseph Giguere, Alex Nguyen, and Tom Taylor (2/8/2021). What do you get for a donation to Princeton?. Daily Princetonian.

Sofia Hiltner and Lynne Archibald (2/7/2021). Where is our Princeton Forward?. Daily Princetonian.


Graphic design by Ashley Chung