Bjorn Lomborg Think Tank Funder Revealed As Billionaire Republican ‘Vulture Capitalist’ Paul Singer

by Guest Blogger

February 9, 2015

By Graham Readfern, crossposted from DeSmogBlog.

A billionaire vulture capitalist and major backer of the US Republican Party is a major funder of the think tank of Danish climate science contrarian and fossil fuels advocate Bjrn Lomborg, DeSmogBlog hasfound.

New York-based hedge fund manager Paul Singers charitable foundation gave $200,000 to Lomborgs Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) in 2013, latest US tax disclosuresreveal.

The grant to Lomborgs think tank is revealed in the tax form of the Paul E. Singer Foundation covering that foundations activities between December 2012 and November2013.

Singer, described as a passionate defender of the 1%, has emerged as a major force in the Republican party in recent years and was a key backer and influencer during Mitt Romneys failed tilt at thePresidency.

The $200,000 grant represented almost one third of the $621,057 in donations declared by the Copenhagen Consensus Center in2013.

A spokesperson for the think tank told DeSmogBlog that not one dollar of the Singer grant had beenspent.

Lomborg, a Danish political scientist, is often cited on lists of the worlds most influentialpeople.

He writes extensively on climate change and energy issues with his columns appearing in many of the worlds biggest newsoutlets.

The CCC think tank produces reports that consistently argue that cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the roll-out of current renewable energy technologies should be low priorities for policymakers.

Most recently, Lomborg wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal arguing climate change was not the urgent problem that manythought.

He wrote that the narrative that the worlds climate is changing from bad to worse is unhelpfulalarmism.

Lomborg argues the poorest countries need fossil fuels to lift themselves out of poverty a position that gained support from the worlds richest man, Bill Gates.

At a G20 side event in Brisbane last year, Lomborg appeared at an event sponsored by the worlds largest private coal company, Peabody Energy, where he again argued that the worlds poor needed fossilfuels.

The CCCs keystone project is the Post 2015 Consensus that is trying to influence the formulation of the next set of global development goals being discussed by the United Nations. Those goals will replace the millennium developmentgoals.

Lomborgs CCC think tank was registered as a not-for-profit in the US in 2008 and has attracted almost $5 million in donations since then.In 2013, the CCCpaid Lomborg, its founder and president, $200,484 for his work. The previous year Lomborg was paid$775,000.

The think tank has insisted that its funders, most of which are anonymous, do not influence its research. The think tank says it does not accept funding from the fossil fuelindustry.

Despite being registered in the US, Lomborg has admitted that all but one of the think tanks seven staff are based elsewhere. The think tanks address is aparcel service in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The discovery of support from Paul Singer comes after a DeSmogBlog investigation last year found that CCCs early funders included conservative think tanks with links to the network of organisations funded by the Koch brothers, who have pushed millions into organisations denying climate science and blocking action to cut fossil fuelemissions.

In the 2014 US political spending cycle, data presented by OpenSecrets shows Singer spent $9.4 million influencing Republicans the biggest disclosed individual spender on the conservative side of USpolitics.

Singer, whose Elliott Management hedge fund manages about $25 billion in assets, has been branded a vulture capitalist enterprise due to investment strategies employed by his firm that targets foreign economies introuble.

A 2011 summary of vulture funds in The Guardian said Elliott Managements principal investment strategy was buying distressed debt cheaply and selling it at a profit or suing for fullpayment.

Greg Palast, the author of Vultures Picnic, documented in The Guardian how Singers firm had managed to pocket $1.29 billion from the US Treasury after a brilliantly complex financial manoeuvre in 2009 that saw Singer lead a consortium to buy the parts supplier of General Motors and Chrysler before claiming cash from a government bailout of the struggling autoindustry.

Singer, who according to Forbes is personally worth $1.8 billion, remains in conflict with the Argentinian government over debt bought by an Elliott affiliate and otherinvestors.

As well as the generosity shown to Bjorn Lomborgs think tank, Singers foundation gave $500,000 to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, where Singer is chairman of the board oftrustees.

The Manhattan Institute is also known for downplaying the impacts of climate change while promoting fossilfuels.

In October 2014, Manhattan senior fellow Robert Bryce wrote a report Not Beyond Coal arguing that the future for the coal industry was bright and the fossil fuel was essential for addressing poverty in developing countries a position identical to that pushed by Lomborg.

Bryce also attacks the wind industry claiming it cannot cut emissions, describing wind turbines as climate change scarecrows.In testimony to the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in February 2014, Bryce said wind turbines were slaughtering wildlife and killed 600,000 birds every year in theUS.

A review of studies and data into US bird deaths has found about 600 million birds are killed annually in collisions with windows and buildings, but even this high number was only a quarter of the birds killed annually in the US by feralcats.

Another large donation from Singers foundation went to the Moving Picture Institute an organisation that says it produces films that promote understanding of individual rights, limited government, and freemarkets.

The MPI helped fund the 2004 pro-mining documentary Mine Your Own Businessby Irish filmmakers Phelim McAleer and AnnMcElhinney.

The two would go on to make the 2009 climate science denial film Not Evil Just Wrong, which was partly funded through a grant from DonorsTrust a fund which stockpiles cash from conservative philanthropists and that has pushed millions into organisations promoting climate science denial while fighting action to cutemissions.

Roland Mathiasson, Executive Vice President at the Copenhagen Consensus Center, told DeSmogBlog: Not one dollar of this grant has been spent. It’s for a potential future project, pending support from a broad range of political perspectives to underline the non-political nature of theproject.

It is a project for the public conversation, so obviously there will be a lot of communication once broad support is secured, and the project islaunched.

Mathiasson declined to provide furtherdetails.

DeSmogBlog attempted to contact the Paul E Singer Foundation to ask about their donation to CCC, but email requests went unanswered.

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