Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Which Organizations Impede Progress on Reducing Climate Change Impacts?

Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations(14 page pdf, Robert J. Brulle, Climatic Change, Dec. 21, 2013)

Also discussed here: New Study Shows ‘Dark Money’ Funds Climate Change Denial(The Harbinger, Feb. 25, 2014)

And here: Funders Behind Climate Change Denial Hide Donations(ENS news, Jan. 2, 2014)

And here: Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort(Robert J Brulle, Drexel Now Press Release, Dec. 20, 2013)

Today we review an analysis of the rise of well financed efforts mounted by conservative foundations n the USA to counter efforts to reduce carbon emissions. What I find interesting is that the efforts did not start until after the formation in 1989 of the International Panel on Climate Change within the United Nations framework which has had as a main objective international agreements and deadlines for greenhouse gas emission reductions world-wide.

Prior to 1989 Canada’s government and parliament had approved that country’s first Climate Change Program which included significant financial resources to acquire the country’s first super computer (a Cray 1) to carry out climate modeling research and the formation of a team of world-class researchers in what was the Canadian Climate Centre. Similar efforts took place in the USA and in Europe culminating in the first ministerial level conference on climate change at the “Changing Atmosphere” conference in Toronto, Canada in 1988 and the 1991 “Earth Conference” in Rio de Janiero which initiated the Conferences of the Parties to steer climate change agreements such as the Kyoto Accord in 1995.

That all of this momentum was turned back by 91 “climate change counter-movement organizations” with incomes of $7 Billion (led by the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil) in less than a decade is the focus of the paper which describes how the public was misled and how the system evolved to one where donors are kept hidden from public scrutiny with the “Donors Trust/Capital” foundation.

 climate deniers  

Key Quotes:

“In response to a survey question in the fall of 2012:1 Do scientists believe that earth is getting warmer because of human activity? 43 % replied no, and another 12 % didn’t know. Only 45 % of the U.S. public accurately reported the near unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change

Three questions:
  • ”What is the climate change counter-movement? - “Conservative think tanks—the key organizational component of the conservative movement – and their backers launched a full-scale counter-movement in response to the perceived success of the environmental movement and its supporters.”
  • How are these organizations financially maintained?-“ the 91 CCCM [climate change counter-movement] organizations had a total income of more than $7 billion over the eight year period 2003–2010, with an annual average income exceeding $900 million.”
  • How do these organizations and their funders interact to form a social movement?”
“Foundations are among the most independent institutions of modern society. They are not subject to market forces or consumer preferences, nor do they have a membership or some electorate to oversee decisions and performance.”

“ The rapid increase in the percentage of funding of the CCCM by Donors Trust/Capital and the decline in both Koch and ExxonMobil corresponds to the initiation of campaigns by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace publicizing and criticizing both Exxon-Mobil and Koch Corporations as funders of climate denial.”

“The CCCM efforts focus on maintaining a field frame that justifies unlimited use of fossil fuels by attempting to delegitmate the science that supports the necessity of mandatory limits on carbon emissions. To accomplish this goal in the face of massive scientific evidence of anthropogenic climate change has meant the development of an active campaign to manipulate and mislead the public over the nature of climate science and the threat posed by climate change.”
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