The Independent has gone digging into a secretive funding organisation in the United States has emerged as a major operator in the climate "counter movement" to undermine the science of climate change .
This group , known as the Donors Trust guarantees anonymity to its members as does its sister group, Donors Capital .
No surprise, its sister group Donors Capital Fund is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.
No surprise here that the audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a massive oil and gas business.The donations are paid through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.
Sound familiar ? Remember the mantra of the tobacco movement ? Cast doubt at all costs.
The Independent has uncovered that the Knowledge and Progress Fund, whose directors include Charles Koch and his wife Liz, gave $1.25m to Donors in 2007, a further $1.25m in 2008 and $2m in 2010.
The Donors Trust has special status under the US tax system. People who give money receive generous tax relief and can retain greater anonymity than if they had used their own charitable foundations because, technically, they do not control how Donors spends the cash.
So the same people who pay so little tax on their earnings get their donations to ensure the onset of rapid climate change are actually supported by the taxpayers . Amazing !
Interestingly the Kochs have actually overtaken even groups such as Exxon Mobil in the corporate funding of deniers
According to the Independent Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has " estimated that over the past decade about $500m has been given to organisations devoted to undermining the science of climate change, with much of the money donated anonymously through third parties.
The trust has given money to the Competitive Enterprise Institute which is currently being sued for defamation by Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania University, an eminent climatologist, whose affidavit claims that he was accused of scientific fraud and compared to a convicted child molester.
Dr Brulle said: "We really have anonymous giving and unaccountable power being exercised here in the creation of the climate countermovement. There is no attribution, no responsibility for the actions of these foundations to the public.
"By becoming anonymous, they remove a political target. They can plausibly claim that they are not giving to these organisations, and there is no way to prove otherwise."