Austrian Economics Center

Austrian Economics Center (AEC)


The Austrian Economics Center (AEC) is an incorporated society in Vienna Austria. The AEC also runs a separate 501(c)(3) organization called “Friends of the Austrian Economics Center,” which it also calls “AEC US” that allows U.S. donors to make contributions to AEC. AEC US works to oppose “expanded government” through “Through grass-roots education, publications, and the building of networks.” [1]

According to their website, “The Austrian Economics Center, or the AEC’s, main goal is to help create a free and responsible society. It promotes the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics as a viable economic alternative in Austria and elsewhere, not only by the means of a public think tank, but also as an academic Institute.” [2]

There are a number of notable climate change skeptics present on the Austrian Economic Center's Board  including Nigel Lawson, founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), Vernon L. Smith, and Matte Kibbe (president and CEO of FreedomWorks). Many board members share affiliations with George Mason University, and other right-wing organizations like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Citizens for a Sound Economy. [3]

Stance on Climate Change

The following is from a December, 2014 article published by the Austrian Economics Center: [4]

“No one but an idiot would claim that man has had no effect on climate. But, also, no one but a numbskull would say that natural factors like continental drift, volcanoes, ocean currents and the earth’s tilt have had no impact. Thus, we should be able to place 'climate deniers' and the most mulish of climate-change advocates – like, for example, the New York Times and Al Gore – outside the room, so that an intelligent conversation and debate can be had within. Unfortunately, the decibels of the discourse on this subject have risen to such levels that there are very few left to quietly and civilly discuss climate change and to debate what actions man should take to limit emissions, but also to prepare for a changing future. In his 2007 classic, Cool It, Bjorn Lomborg made the same point: He asked: 'Why [has] the debate over climate change stifled rational dialogue and killed meaningful dissent?'
“As societies become wealthier, things inevitably happen regarding the environment: Emissions become reduced; rivers, oceans and streams become cleaner, and better land management allows for re-forestation. It is economic growth that should be our focus.”
This is from a 2013 article on the AEC's website, titled “Climate Change – Who are the Real Deniers?
“The climate will never stop changing. No more than could Canute hold back the tide, not even 'The One' can stop nature from changing. We will never live in a static world, nor would we want to. While I am a strong believer in a clean environment, it is not about saving the planet – nature is bigger, more powerful and can be more destructive than anything man has devised. [5]

As of 2012, the Austrian Economics Center maintained a page on the “Environment” that included the following statement on climate change (this page is no longer on their website):

“There is much left to learn about the earth and its climate, and governments should not make any rash decisions in an attempt to control it, while putting the people at risk. Let nature regulate itself.” [6]


According to the AEC's website, “Donation is one way you can defend heritage of individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government.” The group does not appear to publicly reveal their donors. [7]

The U.S. “Friends of the Austrian Economics Center” has the EIN of 452747476, but doesn't appear to have any official returns on record. [8]

Key People

Board [9]

  • Barbara Kolm — President of the Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institute in Vienna, Austria and Director of the Austrian Economics Center.
  • Georg Mustafa — Active Board Member since the founding of the Institute.
  • Johannes Oberrauch — Board member since founding of the Institute.
  • Richard Zundritsch

Scientific Board [9]

  • Lord Nigel Lawson — Journalist. Member of Britain’s Conservative Party.
  • Edmund Phelps — Professor, Department of Economics, Columbia University, New York.
  • Vernon L. Smith — President of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics
  • Georg Winckler — Chairman of the board and president of the FIRST Foundation.

Senior Fellows [9]

Auditors [9]

  • Ursula Schäff
  • Eva- Maria Berger

Past People

The following additional people were listed on the Austrian Economics Center's website as of May 20, 2012: [10]

Board Members

  • Hannes Oberrauch
  • Richard Zundrith

Advisory Board


2015 - 2016 (Ongoing)

The Austrian Economics Center (AEC) puts on regular international conferences, often cooperating with like-minded think tanks on events like their Free Market Road Show®, which brings together economics, politicians, and business leaders to find free-market solutions to economic problems. [11]

May 21 - 23, 2012

The Austrian Economics Center is a Co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's 7th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [12]

DeSmogBlog researched co-sponsors behind the conference and discovered that they had received a total of over $67 Million from ExxonMobil, Koch, and Scaife family foundations. [13]

May 16-18, 2010

The Austrian Economics Center co-sponsored the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) in Chicago, IL.  [14]

DeSmogBlog found that collectively, sponsors of the conference had received at least $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil, and/or Koch Industries family foundations and/or the Scaife family foundations. [15]

Related Organizations

According to the AEC website, they cooperate with the following organizations (many of which work from North America): [17]


  1. Friends of the Austrian Economics Centre,” Austrian Economics Centre. Archived September 19, 2015. WebCite URL

  2. Homepage - Austrian Economics Center. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

  3. Board,” Austrian Economics Centre. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

  4. Climate Change – Rising Decibels,” Austrian Economics Center, December 10, 2014. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL:

  5. Climate Change – Who are the Real Deniers?” Austrian Economics Centre, September 27, 2013. WebCite URL:

  6. The Environment,” Austrian Economics Center. Archived May 7, 2012.

  7. Please Support Our Work,” Austrian Economic Center. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

  8. Friends of the Austrian Economics Centre INC,” ProPublica. Accessed November 2, 2015. 

  9. Board,” Austrian Economics Center. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

  10. Homepage - Austrian Economics Center. Archived August 14, 2012.

  11. About Us,” Free Market Road Show. Archived November 2, 2015.

  12. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Accessed May 20, 2012.

  13. Michael Fisher. “A Closer Look at Heartland's ICCC7 Denial-a-Palooza Speakers and Sponsors,” DeSmogBlog, May 23, 2012.

  14. 4th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute.

  15. Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmogBlog, May 13, 2010.

  16. Austrian Economics Centre,” Atlas Network. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

  17. Cooperation,” Austrian Economics Center. Archived November 2, 2015. WebCite URL

Other Resources