Calling out the Origins of Climate Denial and the 'Climate Change Countermovement'

Read time: 3 mins
Brown professor Timmons Roberts, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Climate Investigations Center's Kert Davies at Brown University.

Originally posted on the Climate Investigations Center.

In February, the Climate Investigations Center’s Kert Davies was an invited speaker at a collaborative conference held at Brown University on the economic impacts of climate change and the opposition to policy advances. The day long event, America’s Climate Change Future: Housing Markets, Stranded Assets, and Entrenched Interests, gathered experts on a range of climate change topics ranging from increased flood risk and stranded assets in fossil fuels, to the climate change countermovement and misinformation campaigns. 

Alongside keynote speaker Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Brown professor Timmons Roberts, Davies participated in a discussion on a recently published paper by Justin Farrell of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The paper’s focus on the “institutional and corporate structure of the climate change countermovement” helped shaped a discussion which outlined the existing body of research the paper built on. 

The panelists examined the corporate genesis of the climate denial movement and the many methods of influence that have been utilized to stall effective climate change policy. Using documents and analysis found on Climate Files, Davies recounted how the largest oil majors, including Shell and Exxon, had extensive internal knowledge about climate change science and impacts decades before it became a topic of global concern. Rather than addressing the threat that their product posed to the world, the documents show that the fossil fuel industry engaged and funded a climate change countermovement to deny the urgency their own scientists knew to be true.

See video below of the full session with Davies, Senator Whitehouse and professor Roberts called, “Pushing Against Climate Denial and Defending Science.”

Brown University’s Climate Development Lab recently released a supplemental report titled Countermovement Coalitions: Climate Denialist Organizational Profiles tracking the affiliations and output of twelve organizations that “engaged in public misinformation campaigns about climate change” from 1989 to present day. Collaborating with CIC and drawing from Climate FilesExxonSecrets, and other resources, the report highlights the coalitions’ “insular nature,” showing many to “share leadership teams, major donors, key members, and mission statements.” The twelve organizations highlighted by the Brown team are:

  1. Global Climate Coalition
  2. Information Council on the Environment
  3. Alliance for Climate Strategies
  4. Coalition for Vehicle Choice
  5. Cooler Heads Coalition
  6. Center for Energy and Economic Development
  7. Americans for Balanced Energy Choices
  8. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
  9. Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth
  10. Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Energy
  11. Coalition for American Jobs
  12. Partnership for a Better Energy Future

Main image: Brown professor Timmons Roberts, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Climate Investigations Center's Kert Davies at Brown University. Credit: Brown University video screenshot

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