Who Is Lee Raymond?

“How he is not on trial for crimes against humanity is beyond me,” former JP Morgan Chase managing director.

Lee Raymond’s Long and Reckless Record of Peddling Climate Denial and Obstruction

Lee Raymond has a long history of publicly attacking scientific consensus and using his considerable influence and resources to undermine action on climate change.

 

In addition to the ethical dubiousness of a lifetime spent building a vast infrastructure of dangerous disinformation, Raymond’s climate denialism disqualifies him from being a responsible steward of a modern financial firm. One former JP Morgan Chase (JPMC) managing director said,"How he is not on trial for crimes against humanity is beyond me.” 

 

As Independent Director of the board of JPMC, Raymond has sole power to exercise independent oversight over CEO Jamie Dimon. Climate change is an acknowledged threat to investment portfolios, and navigating this threat requires a clear-eyed understanding of that reality and how it will affect the global economy. In this crucial moment, Lee Raymond cannot be expected to act in good faith. Shareholders of JPMC must demand a board that makes decisions based on the reality of our times. 

 

Lee Raymond’s Climate Denial Highlights

According to different estimates, under Raymond’s leadership, Exxon spent either $16 or $30 million between 1998 and 2005 to wage a public campaign to cast doubt on climate change and discredit the scientific consensus. Exxon’s own scientists had known the truth about climate change for decades and had, in some cases, pioneered the research into it. 

  • Under Raymond’s leadership, Exxon developed the strategy of flooding money into campaigns and independent groups to do the dirtiest work of attacking science. Among these groups was the American Petroleum Institute, which Raymond led while also at the helm of Exxon. Raymond’s API spent millions discrediting individual scientists and casting doubt on scientific consensus. One investigation found that API under Raymond sought to mount a $5 million campaign to undermine science.

  • Raymond and ExxonMobil successfully pressured the George W. Bush Administration to pull the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.

  • Under Raymond’s leadership, ExxonMobil successfully lobbied the Bush administration to depose the top climate scientist of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2002.

  • At 81 years old, Raymond has also long passed the retirement age set forth in JPMC’s own corporate governance principles. 

  • Raymond has led the board of JPMC as the bank has paid tens of billions of dollars in fines and regulatory settlements for its misdeeds.

Raymond Pioneered Exxon/ExxonMobil’s Climate Denial Campaign

 

Raymond was Chair and CEO of ExxonMobil (and its predecessor Exxon) from 1993-2005. During that time, he was the architect and public face of ExxonMobil’s efforts to deny the risks and likelihood of climate change. 

  • Exxon scientists and leadership knew about the risks of climate change for decades. Raymond was well aware but chose to lead a massive public effort in the U.S. and abroad to undermine climate science and restrict policy efforts to mitigate climate change.

  • Exxon was notable among opponents of Kyoto for going after the science of climate change, not just making economic arguments. Lee Raymond was the public face of this anti-science position.

  • Taking a page from tobacco companies, Raymond’s game plan was to fund supposed “experts” and misuse data to sow doubt about the scientific consensus in the public conversation. With millions of dollars at his disposal, he developed a vast infrastructure of disinformation through a series of communications tactics that created messaging and offered cover to lawmakers obstructing climate progress.

 

Raymond at the Helm of Top Climate Denying Front Groups

During and after his time at the top of ExxonMobil, Raymond served in leadership positions at two of the largest oil and gas industry front groups, which he used to leverage millions in corporate contributions, largely from ExxonMobil itself, to attack climate science and shield his company.

 

American Petroleum Institute (API)

  • As API chair in 1997, Raymond actively tried to undermine the global response to climate change by going on the offensive against the Clinton Administration’s modest plans to reduce carbon emissions. The Clinton Administration was concerned that Raymond was even going around its diplomacy and working to persuade China and other developing nations to reject a global climate treaty in Kyoto. After the treaty was signed, Raymond used the cover of API to organize the industry’s opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and was instrumental in pushing the Bush Administration to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

 

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

  • Raymond was on the board of AEI, which was heavily funded by ExxonMobil, from 2001-2008 and served as its Vice Chair at least from 2002-2005 (while still at Exxon). A 2007 investigation found that during that time, AEI offered $10,000 each, plus travel expenses and other payments, to scientists and economists willing to author “studies” undermining the scientific consensus on climate change.


 

Raymond Has Been Nothing if Not Consistent

 

  • At a 1997 conference of the World Petroleum Congress, Raymond spoke out against the upcoming climate talks in Kyoto, attempting to undermine them: “So the case for so-called global warming is far from air tight. You’d think the lack of consensus would give political leaders pause. Unfortunately, it hasn’t, and officials continue to insist that agreement is needed in Kyoto.”

  • In a 2005 interview with Charlie Rose, Raymond cast doubt on consensus view that climate change was caused by human activity, saying, “It has to do with sun spots, it has to do with the wobble of the Earth, and it has - there are all kinds of things that come and go.” 

  • In 2007, while serving as the chair of the National Petroleum Council, an oil and gas  industry group that advises the Secretary of Energy, Raymond was asked if he had changed his mind about climate change over the years, as even ExxonMobil had publicly done. His response: “Well, I don't work for them any more, so I don't know what they're saying. But...the only thing I would say is the only consensus I know of is that there's not a consensus.”

 

Raymond’s Time on the Board of JP Morgan Chase 

Raymond has served on the board of JPMC (and its predecessor) for 33 years, far longer than corporate governance best practices suggest. At 81 years old, he has also long passed the retirement age set forth in JPMC’s own corporate governance principles. Raymond is both the longest-serving and oldest director among the biggest banks on Wall Street. 

 

As banks across the world have begun to cool on fossil fuels, JPMC has continued to remain hot.

 

Under Raymond’s oversight it increased financing to fossil fuel "expanders" by 15% from 2018 to 2019, and it far outpaces any other bank in lending to fossil fuel interests. JPMC investors who are serious about taking on climate change should start by acting to remove its greatest deniers from leadership.

 

JPMC’s Financing of Fossil Fuels

Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the end of 2015, JPMC has been by far the largest global bank in lending and underwriting to the fossil fuel sector, accounting for $269 billion from 2016-2019.

  • JPMC was the world’s worst banker of climate chaos by a huge margin in each year from 2016 to 2019.

    • Over 2016-2019, JPMC is the #1 fossil bank by a 36% margin and that gap grew massively between 2018 and 2019.

    • With $269b in fossil financing, JPMC is the first bank to pass the mark of a quarter trillion in fossil financing since Paris. 

    • JPMC leads as the worst financier of fossil fuel expansion by a 43% margin and increased finance to companies expanding fossil fuels by more than 15% from 2018 to 2019.

    • As even oil companies move away from their prior investments in risky, unproductive Arctic oil expansion, JPMC continues to be the largest funder of Arctic oil and gas.

    • It was also the worst banker of fracking to the tune of $43 billion over 2016-2019, over $10 billion more than any other bank. 

 

 

Conflicts with the Family Business

Family conflicts also may affect Raymond’s responsible stewardship of JMPC’s investments. All three of Raymond’s sons now own firms focused on investment in or services to the fossil fuel industries - including pipelines and other new fossil fuel infrastructure, exploration and drilling, mining, oil, gas, and more. Raymond himself has been involved in several of these ventures.