Funders Flee “Free-Market” Climate Denial Group

by Guest Blogger

December 10, 2015

Things do not look good right now for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a libertarian lobbying group funded by companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil.

Action at IPCC in Stockholm

© Greenpeace / Christian Åslund

This article was originally published by Nick Surgey at the Center for Media and Democracy and is re-posted here with permission. 

Funding for climate change denial is drying up. The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a U.S. climate change denial group that espouses the “free-market,” has lost more than two-thirds of its funding in the past two years, according to tax filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

In the most recently available CFACT tax filing for the 2014 financial year — filed in late 2015 — the group reported receiving grant revenue of $1.5 million, down from roughly $2 million it had received a year earlier, but representing a massive drop off from the $5.5 million in revenue it reported for 2012.

CFACT Grant Funding

  • 2009: $3.07 million
  • 2010: $2.85 million
  • 2011: $2.98 million
  • 2012: $5.5 million
  • 2013: $1.97 million
  • 2014: $1.5 million

CFACT co-organized a failed climate denial conference along with the coal-funded Heartland Institute this week in Paris, coinciding with the U.N. COP21 climate summit negotiations taking place on the other side of the city. Only about 30 people turned up to the event, leaving large numbers of empty seats in the modestly sized room.

Both the Heartland Institute and CFACT have received funding from fossil fuel interests for many years, including significant funds from ExxonMobil. That funding has now apparently ceased.

ExxonMobil now faces the prospect of civil lawsuits and possible criminal penalties for allegedly suppressing its internal awareness of the serious risks to the environment and shareholder value from climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. The New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has begun an investigation, issuing the corporation with subpoenas that are still pending.

According to recent parallel investigations published by InsideClimate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with the Los Angeles Times, ExxonMobil executives were informed by their own scientists of the serious threat of climate change as far back as the nineteen seventies, with ExxonMobil using this data to inform its own long term planning. Despite this apparent knowledge, ExxonMobil provided significant funding to groups such as Heartland and CFACT which denied the science.

CMD recently provided the New York Attorney General with detailed information about ExxonMobil’s funding of another climate change denial group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Both CFACT and Heartland participate in ALEC, and have provided state legislators with climate denial briefings at recent ALEC conferences.

ALEC is another climate denial group facing dwindling support. As CMD recently reported, the giant utility American Electric Power this week became the 107th corporation to abandon ALEC since CMD launched the ALEC Exposed project in 2011, joining BP, Shell, Google and others in ceasing financial support.

Nick Surgey is the director of research and an investigative reporter with the Center for Media and Democracy. His work has been featured in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. 

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