Leaked financial reports and documents from a US-based think tank that denies the risks of human-caused climate change show links to an Australian academic and detail a strategy to pursue funds from corporations affected by climate policies.
The documents from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute -- leaked online by climate news site DeSmogBlog -- also reveal the think tank has been moulding its messages to fit the requirements of funders, contrary to its own public claims.
According to a "proposed budget" statement for 2012, Australian scientist Bob Carter will receive $1667 per month for his work on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change -- a rebuttal written by Heartland-paid scientists to question the well-regarded UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Carter’s affiliation is listed in the document as "James Cook University & Institute for Public Affairs".
The Institute for Public Affairs has previously sponsored Heartland’s climate change conferences -- where Carter has been a regular speaker -- which almost exclusively feature experts and academics who disagree that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases through burning fossil fuels represent a significant risk.
The document also discloses that the foundation of oil magnates Charles and David Koch gave the institute $200,000 last year. Also discussed is a key but unnamed "anonymous donor" who has given more than $2.5 million in the past two years for the institute’s climate work. According to Heartland’s website:
"We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors ... People contribute to The Heartland Institute because they share our belief that better information and understanding can improve public policies in such important areas as education, environmental protection, and health care."
Yet in the leaked memo, Heartland states that "if our focus continues to align with their interests" then they expect the Koch brothers to contribute more funds. The memo also states it will actively pursue funding from corporations who stand to lose out from climate change policies:
"Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 -- about 20 per cent of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 -- see the 2011 fourth quarter financial report.
"We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies."
In 2011, the documents show Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 to work on a series of reports under their Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change project. This project, the report says, is being funded by two foundations that have "both requested anonymity". Professor Carter was a lead author on the NIPCC’s latest "interim report".
In a document titled "2012 Fundraising Plan", it is revealed that its "anonymous donor" has given $8.6 million since 2007 for "global warming projects". Funders to other general Heartland projects are revealed to include some major corporations, including Microsoft, Pfizer, Time Warner Cable, Eli Lilly and Bayer.
The "confidential memo" dated January 2012 outlines a climate strategy for Heartland, which claims is "leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming".
The memo also states how Heartland "plays an important role" in broader communications on climate change. In particular, Heartland highlights the work of its senior environment policy fellow James Taylor’s blog on Forbes:
"Through his Forbes blog and related high-profile outlets, our conferences and through co-ordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilising responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavourable blog posts)."
The memo says that Heartland is concerned Forbes has begun to publish articles containing "warmist science" that "counter our own":
"This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out."
If funding can be obtained, the memo concludes, then existing efforts will be expanded and new ventures developed.
This story first appeared on www.crikey.com.au on February 15. Republished with permission.