Copenhagen Consensus Center

Copenhagen Consensus Center

 Background

The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think tank registered in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC. The CCC says its role is to publicize “the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money”. 

High-profile Danish economist and author Bjørn Lomborg is the Copenhagen Consensus Center's president, founder and key spokesperson and is a popular speaker at conferences and in the media, where he regularly writes columns in mainstream newspapers.

Lomborg argues that human-caused climate change is a problem, but says the immediate economic impacts will not be great. He says carbon pricing laws are expensive, the United Nations negotiations on climate change have achieved nothing and that the “smart” way to tackle the issue is to invest massively in research and technology to make “green technologies cheaper”.

In a December 2013 op-ed in the New York Times, Lomborg said that Western nations “should not stand in the way of poorer nations as they turn to coal and other fossil fuels.”

Stance on Climate Change

The CCC does not challenge the scientific consensus that human emissions of greenhouse gases cause climate change. However, reports from the CCC do not advocate for sharp reductions in emissions and conclude there are many other global issues which should be tackled first.

A research report and book from the Copenhagen Consensus Center, published in 2013, concluded:

Global warming is surprising, because the impact now is positive. The increased level of CO₂ has boosted agriculture because it works as a fertilizer. At the same time, the number of people dying from heat waves are more that outweighed by fewer people dying from fewer cold waves. In all, global warming benefits have increased from 1900 to almost 1.5% of GDP by now, but by 2025, they will peak and begin a rapid decline, leading to a net negative towards the end of the century.

In a speech given to Australia's National Press Club in December 2013, CCC president Lomborg said that his center's study titled “How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World?” had found that “until about 2070 global warming is a net benefit to the world.”

The CCC has hosted three conferences where “the world's leading economists” are asked to prioritise global sepnding. On each occasion measures to lower greenhouse gas emissions are ranked at the bottom, or close to the bottom, of the list.

Funding

A DeSmogBlog investigation in June 2014 of the Copenhagen Consensus Center's tax records finds a rapid rise in revenue for the center since it registered operations in the United States in 2008. 

More than $4 million in grants and donations have flooded in since 2008, three quarters of which came in 2011 and 2012. In one year alone, the Copenhagen Consensus Center paid Lomborg $775,000.

The CCC's public tax records show contributions recieved by the think tank but account for only about $500,000 of the center's total $4.3 million income between 2008 and 2012.

In 2008, the think tank's first year of operation, it received $120,000. Tax records of the New York-based conservative Randolph Foundation [pdf] show it gave $120,000 to Lomborg's project that year. The Randolph Foundation gave CCC a further $50,000 grant in 2012.

In 2009, the CCC received $300,000. The tax records of the Sevenbar Foundation shows it gave CCC a $50,000 grant in 2009. The foundation has a focus on raising funds from lingerie shows which it then passes on to women entrepreneurs in developing countries through micro-financing.

In 2010 CCC accepted $750,000.

In 2011, the CCC received $1,064,685 in contributions and donations. The tax records of the Kansas-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which holds about $2 billion in assets, indicate it gave CCC a $150,000 grant in 2011 and another in 2012. The foundation is the legacy of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Ewing Kauffman.

In 2012, the tax records show that CCC paid Bjorn Lomborg $775,000 that year for a declared 40-hour week. In previous years of its US operation, the CCC declared Lomborg was working only one hour per week for the center. 

The CCC's Vice President Roland Mathiasson told DeSmogBlog:

Some donors stipulate that we are not allowed to advertise the name of the foundation or donor. Donors routinely decide to be anonymous, for a variety of reasons. Given how some parts of the blogosphere vilify Dr. Lomborg and certain research from the Center, it is something donors can understandably live without.
 
We work with more than a hundred of the world's top economists and 7 Nobel Laureates. It is the work of these people that assure the public of the quality of the output of the Copenhagen Consensus. 
 
We do not take funding from fossil fuel industry and we are explicit that no funding will have any influence on our research. This statement should be on our website – we'll add this to the new website. 


 Location 

According to its IRS 990 filings and its website contact page, the Copenhagen Consensus Center lists its primary business address and contact address as: 
Copenhagen Consensus Center
262 Middlesex St PMB SE-132
Lowell, MA 01852

This is what that address looks like on Google street view: 
Copenhagen Consensus Center address


The description of the business at this address on Google is: 

Key People

  • Bjørn Lomborg - President
  • Roland Mathiasson - Executive Vice President
  • Scott Calahan - Independent Board Member
  • Loretta Michaels - Independent Board Member
  • James Harff - Treasurer/secretary
  • David Lessmann - communications manager

 Actions

October, 2013

The CCC published a book “How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World?” with a chapter edited by economist Professor Richard Tol. The chapter concluded:

After year 2070, global warming will become a net cost to the world, justifying cost-effective climate action.

May 2012

The CCC published an assessment of of global challenges with a list prioritizing action. The “Copenhagen Consensus 2012” findings suggested funding on climate chnage should be restricted to improving yields from crops and, down the list, investing in projects to artificially engineer the world's climate.

February, 2012

In an interview with Ecologist, CCC president Bjorn Lomborg discussed how his organisation's annual funding from the Danish Government had been withdrawn. This had resulted in the CCC losing 90 per cent of its £1.5 million (about $2.4 million) annual budget.

February 5, 2008

The Fraser Institute hosted Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, on a cross-country speaking tour.

May, 2004

The first Copenhagen Consensus project generates a list of priorities for world spending. In a list of 17 proposed “projects” the three related to climate change are placed 15th, 16th and 17th. The Kyoto Protocoal and two types of carbon tax were all categorised as “bad projects”.  At the time the project's founder Bjorn Lomborg was director of the Environmental Assessment Institute established as an independent authority by the Danish government. 

September, 2003

The Institute of Public Affairs, an Australian free market think-tank, hosted Bjorn Lomborg for the HV McKay Lecture on how the world should prioritise funds in tackling major issues. During Lomborg's visit, he also lectured at the National Press Club. The IPA produced an edited transcript of Lomborg's speech.

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