The Secret Funding of Climate Deniers - The Independent Lifts the Lid



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 .

koch bros 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.

It does not appear to have given money to any other group and there is no mention of the fundclimate disaster on the websites of Koch Industries or the Charles Koch Foundation.

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."

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Bill Mebane (anonymous)

This is really dopey. The amount in question is 1% of Donor's Trust's receipts in the years in question. The Koches are NOT the largest donor to Donors Trust, much less the majority of their funding. Donors Trust gave as much money to a single (mainstream) church belonged to by another of its donors in one of these years. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is tax-exempt in its own right; Donors Trust is not needed as a conduit. And however misguided it may be, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has never hidden its views on global warming, and that area of focus consumes only a small part of its funding.

My opinion of the Independent is much lower after this dopey purported news story. The British media is rarely deeply malicious, but often frightfully sloppy.

Telling people a mixture of things that are well-known and not surprising, along with a few insinuations that are easily disproven, is not an "investigation" or high-quality journalism.

Time to hire more interesting journalists.

Written in January 2013

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  • Posted on Jan. 28, 2013. Listed in:

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