Adam Smith Institute

Adam Smith Institute (ASI)


The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) is a UK-based nonprofit think tank founded in 1977 by Madsen Pirie, Eamonn Butler and Stuart Butler, with the help of Antony Fisher of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). [1], [2], [3]

The ASI originally promoted “libertarian and free market ideas,” however officially changed their libertarian label to “neoliberal” in October of 2016. [4]

The ASI has published articles casting doubt on climate science and indirectly opposed green energy, describing solar power in Britain as an “impossible dream.” [27], [5]

The ASI was one of three think tanks the Thatcher government relied upon for policy advice, alongside the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). [6]

According to an internal Philip Morris report, a series of ASI proposals have become policy and been enacted into law. These include: [7]

  • Requiring local authorities to allow private contractors to perform city services.
  • Building public infrastructure using private finance.
  • Deregulating urban bus services.
  • Cutting income tax to a maximum of 40%.
  • Using private firms to build and operate prisons.
  • Liberalizing laws relating to sale and consumption of alcohol.
  • Keeping down duties on alcohol and tobacco.

Stance on Climate Change

While the Adam Smith Institute does not appear to have published an official view on climate change, it regularly posts articles that suggest climate change will not be as serious a problem as mainstream science has suggested. Some examples include:

February, 2016

ASI author Tim Worstall suggested new evidence has arisen “which should stop people worrying so much about climate change. Of course, it's not going to but it should. That news being that the worst estimates of emissions and thus temperature changes just are never going to take place.” [8]

“Anything beyond a mild warming is predicated upon the idea of ever more fossil fuel use. If that's not true because of what we've already done then anything beyond a mild warming is not true either,” Worstall concludes.

November, 2016

Writing for the Adam Smith Institute's blog, Tim Worstall declared: [9]

“The truth about the catastrophic part of climate change is that we've already done what we needed to do to avoid it even if the direst original predictions were true.”

September 11, 2013

A blog by the ASI's Research Director, Alex Singleton, entitled “Parliament goes hostile on climate change,” said:

“Parliament’s cushy consensus over climate change is dead. In 2008, when the Climate Change Bill had its third reading in the Commons, only five MPs voted against. But with doomsday predictions failing to materialize, and the planet failing to warm, MPs are starting to get more skeptical.” [27]

December, 2010

The following is from an article posted on the Adam Smith Institute blog by author Brandon Patty.

“[A]s we have seen over the past billions of years, our climate will change; whether humans are making an impact or not. Indeed, this is what climates do.” [10]


The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) does not disclose its funding sources. The think tank Transparify ranked ASI as one of the four least transparent think tanks in the  U.K. regarding their funding in a 2016 report (PDF). [11]

In an archived version of their website, they declare that “the Adam Smith Institute accepts no government funding. Most of our funding comes from private individuals who believe in liberty and want to see a freer world; the rest comes from various foundations, businesses and the sales of our books.” [12]

The following is combined data from publicly available 990 forms and data collected by the Conservative Transparency project.

View the attached spreadsheet for details on the Adam Smith Institute's funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor Total
John Templeton Foundation $1,439,853
Aequus Institute $40,000
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation $40,000
TWS Foundation $22,000
Dunn's Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking $20,000
Earhart Foundation $15,000
Stiles-Nicholson Foundation $10,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $5,500
Center for Independent Thought $5,000
Huizenga Foundation $2,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $1,000
Grand Total $1,600,353

Tobacco Industry Funding

A 2013 investigation by the Observer found that the ASI had, along with the Institute of Economic Affairs, received tens of thousands of pounds worth of donations from tobacco companies. [29]

A September 1992 document from The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM) mentioned a recommendation for a “two-phased Adam Smith Institute project on a counter-defence of the traditional values of European individual freedom - within a special project budget of £30,000.” [13]

According to an 1992 internal Philip Morris memo, ASI also met with PM to discuss preliminary plans for an International Journalism Center to train journalists to be “ideologically consistent with PM's issues and interests.” [14]

Financial Statements

Key People


Name 2009 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Description
Annabel Denham Y Y Programmes Director, The Entrepreneurs Network
Ben Southwood Y Y Y Y Head of Research
Charlotte Bowyer Y Y Head of Digital Policy Research
Eamonn Butler Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Director
Ellie Weston Y Programmes Officer
Flora Laven-Morris Y Y Head of Communications
JP Floru Y Senior Fellow
Kate Andrews Y Communications Manager
Madsen Pirie Y Y Y Y Y Y Y President
Philip Salter Y Y Y Y Y Director, The Entrepreneurs Network
Sally Thompson Y Communications Director
Sam Bowman Y Y Y Y Y Y Executive Director
Sam Dumitriu Y Head of Projects
Steve Bettison Y Operations Director
Tim Evans Y Senior Fellow
Tom Clougherty Y Y Senior Fellow

Fellows & Senior Fellows

Name 2008 2009 2010 2014 2015 2017 Description
Patrick Crozier Y Fellow, Transport
Anthony J. Evans Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Anton Howes Y Fellow
Cecile Philippe Y Y Y International Fellow
Christopher Snowdon Y Fellow
Deepak Lal Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Dominique Lazanski Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Eben Wilson Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Gabriel Stein Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Gavin Kennedy Y Y Fellow, Adam Smith
Helen Evans Y Y Y Y Fellow
Ian Senior Y Y Y Fellow, Industry
James B. Stanfield Y Y Y Fellow, Education
James Bartholomew Y Y Y Y Fellow
Jamie Whyte Y Senior Fellow
John Hibbs Y Y Y Fellow, Transport
JP Floru Y Y Senior Fellow
Keith Boyfield Y Y Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Kevin Dowd Y Senior Fellow
Lars Christensen Y Y Senior Fellow
Michael Goldsmith Y Y Y Senior Fellow, Healthcare
Miles Saltiel Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Nigel Hawkins Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Patrick Crozier Y Fellow, Transport
Preston Byrne Y Y Fellow
Richard Teather Y Y Y Fellow, Taxation
Roland Smith Y Fellow
Ruth Lea Y Y Y Senior Fellow, Economy
Terence Kealey Y Y Y Senior Fellow, Education
Tim Ambler Y Y Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Tim Evans Y Y Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Tim Worstall Y Y Y Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Tom Clougherty Y Y Y Senior Fellow
Tom Papworth Y Y Senior Fellow
Vaclav Klaus Y Y Y International Fellow
Vuk Vukovic Y Fellow

Board Members (2000)

As of July, 2000, ASI listed board members on their website: [15]

Name Description
Bill Marvin Comprehensive Medical Review
Darrell Issa Directed Electronics
David Duncan Loranda Corporation
H. Rick Otis RPM Clarklift
Hon. Jim Gibson Nova Voice & Data Systems
Joel Anderson Politically Direct
Mike Fredenburg
Samuel A. Hardage Woodfin Suite Hotels

Authors  [16]

  • Alister Mcfarquhar Author. [17]
  • Tim Worstall
  • Eamonn Butler
  • Sam Bowman
  • Madsen Pirie
  • Tom Clougherty
  • Tim Worstall
  • Philip Salter
  • Steve Bettison
  • Ben Southwood
  • Tim Ambler
  • Nigel Hawkins
  • Jan Boucek
  • Charlotte Bowyer
  • Anton Howes
  • Andrew Hutson
  • Tom Bowman
  • Dr Fred Hansen
  • Whig
  • James Lawson
  • Kate Andrews
  • Eamonn Butler
  • Jason Jones
  • Vishal Wilde
  • Gabriel Stein
  • Henry Oliver
  • Tom Papworth
  • Vuk Vukovic
  • Alexander Ulrich
  • Preston Byrne
  • Ben Southwood
  • David Rawcliffe
  • Sally Thompson
  • JP Floru
  • Madsen Pirie
  • Sam Dumitriu
  • Miles Saltiel
  • Carly Zubrzycki
  • Nikhil Arora
  • Terry Arthur
  • Adam Scavette
  • Spencer Aland
  • Andrew Ian Dodge
  • Anna Moore
  • Chris Snowdon
  • Pete Spence
  • Cate Schafer
  • Harriet Blackburn
  • Matthew Triggs
  • Alex Singleton


October 10, 2019

The ASI's Head of Research, Matthew Lesh, wrote an article in The Telegraph criticising ongoing protests by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion. He called the movement a “doomsday cult, devoid of any association with reality” and finished by saying: [28]

“Climate change is a serious problem…But broadly speaking, the market system is perfectly capable of responding to these issues — without the need for apocalyptic predictions or the immiserating solutions demanded by Extinction Rebellion.” [28]

October 14, 2016

The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) released a report describing solar power in Britian as an “Impossible Dream.” The paper (PDF), authored by Dr. Capell Aris, is co-sponsored by the ASI and The Scientific Alliance. [5]

The paper, which attempts to refute the idea that a combination of wind power generation and solar power can provide a secure, affordable, and low carbon energy supply for the UK and EU, concludes that “no combination of wind and solar energy with backup storage would be suitable to supply a significant proportion of grid electricity without full conventional backup being available.” [18]

October 24, 2014

The Adam Smith Institute co-released a report with the Scientific Alliance titled “Wind Power Reassessed: A review of the UK wind resource for electricity generation” (PDF). [19]

According to the report summary, “The UK wind debate assumes that wind farms operate at roughly their average output most of the time. According to Dr. Capell Aris’ new paper produced in concert with the Scientific Alliance this is not true.” [20]

September 11, 2013

The ASI published a blog by the ASI's Research Director, Alex Singleton, entitled “Parliament goes hostile on climate change,” in which Singleton claims that “doomsday predictions” about climate change were “failing to materialize” and that the planet was “failing to warm.” [27]

The blog quotes numerous MPs with a record of climate science denial and opposition to climate policy, including David Davies, Graham Stringer, Sammy Wilson, Peter Lilley and Philip Davies, speaking in a House of Commons Westminster Hall debate on the topic. [27]

December 12, 2011

The Adam Smith Institute released a report titled “Renewable Energy: Vision or Mirage,” that claims “the government’s focus on renewable energy sources is misguided” in the UK. [21]

ASI co-published the report with the Scientific Alliance, an organization originally set up by the director of the British Aggregates Association, Roburt Durward, who has called himself a “businessman who is totally fed up with all this environmental stuff […] much of which is unjustified, such as the climate change levy.” [22]

April, 1991

Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, was listed on the National Center for Policy Analysis “Environmental Task Force” that contributed to the NCPA report “Progressive Environmentalism: A Pro-Human, Pro-Science, Pro-Free Enterprise Agenda for Change” (PDF). [23]

The report refers to a group of “reactionary environmentalists” who “do not believe in human progress,” who “idealiz[e] the life of the American Indian or life in medieval communities.” According to the authors, this group is “united by a distaste for modern industrial society and what borders on worship of the peasant way of life.”

The NCPA report classifies this group as “Anti-Human,” “Anti-Technology,” “Anti-Science,” “Anti-Growth,” “Anti-Free Enterprise,” and as “The Disaster Lobby” by “thriv[ing]” on crisis.

The report includes a section on climate change, that implies global warming would be beneficial. See excerpts below:

“[E]vidence suggests that warmth is life-enhancing and life-sustaining, whereas cold is life-threatening […]”

“[A]tmospheric CO2 levels have varied radically as life on earth has evolved. Moreover, just as warmth has always been unambiguously good for life, so has CO2 […]”

“Although CO2 levels in the atmosphere have fluctuated over time, a secular decline in CO2 has been going on throughout the 4.5 billion-year history of the Earth. If this trend continues, and there is no scientific reason to think it willn ot, eventually our planet will become as lifeless as Mars.”

Members of NCPA's “Environmental Task Force” included: [24]

Adam Smith Institute Contact & Location 

As of January, 2017, the main contact address was: [25]

Adam Smith Institute,
23 Great Smith Street,
London SW1P 3BL,
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7222 4995
Email: [email protected]

Related Organizations

  • Adam Smith International

The Adam Smith Institute had past affiliation with Adam Smith International: “Adam Smith International was set up in 1991 by a former Adam Smith Institute staff member. Since its initial work was on privatisation, two of the founders of the Institute served on its board. Even then, however, the two organisations (International and Institute) were financially and operationally independent. All formal ties were severed around five years ago. Since then there has been no overlap of staff or ownership at all.” [12]

  • Scientific Alliance

ASI has co-authored reports with the Scientific Alliance, a group that SourceWatch notes is populated by Britain's most prominent biotechnology enthusiasts and climate change sceptics including Sallie Baliunas. [26]


  1. ABOUT THE ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived January 10, 2017. URL

  2. Our People,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived January 10, 2017. URL

  3. Think Tank – the Story of the Adam Smith Institute,” Adam Smith Institute, February 14, 2012. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  4. Sam Bowman. “COMING OUT AS NEOLIBERALS,” Adam Smith Institute, October 11, 2016. URL:

  5. SOLAR POWER IN BRITAIN: THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM,” Adam Smith Institute, October 14, 2016. Archived January 10, 2017. URL

  6. Denham, Andrew; Garnett, Mark (January 1999). “Influence without responsibility? Think-tanks in Britain,” Parliamentary Affairs 51 (1): 46–57.

  7. Philip Morris, “The Influence of the Adam Smith Institute,” Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, Bates No 2065244208, December 1994 (estimated). Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  8. THE END OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE SCARE,” Adam Smith Institute, June 14, 2016. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  9. Tim Forstall. “THE LATEST MISLEADING STORY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE,” Adam Smith Institute, November 15, 2016. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  10. Brandon Patty. “Sense needed in climate change talks,” Adam Smith Institute (blog), December 4, 2010. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  11. “How Transparent are Think Tanks about Who Funds Them 2016?” (PDF), Transparify, June 29, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  12. “Frequently Asked Questions,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived December 8, 2011. URL:

  13. Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers Limited, “Board Meeting to be held at 1000am on Tuesday, 8 September 1992,” page 2. Bates number:500002882-500002883. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  14. Craig Fuller “January Monthly Report”, Memo, February 4, 1992, Bates Number 2024671858/1861. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  15. Board Members,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived July 8, 2000. URL:

  16. Blog,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  17. Alister McFarquehar. “Planning Rape: Land Use Policy and Local Government Finance in the UK” (PDF), Adam Smith Institute, 1999. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  18. Dr. Capell Aris. “Solar Power in Britain The impossible dream” (PDF), Adam Smith Institute and The Scientific Alliance, October 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

  19. Dr. Capell Aris. “Wind Power Reassessed: A review of the UK wind resource for electricity generation” (PDF), The Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute, October, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  20. Ben Southward. “Wind Power Reassessed: A review of the UK wind resource for electricity generation,” Adam Smith Institute, October 27, 2014. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  21. Renewable energy cannot meet UK energy needs,” Adam Smith Institute, December 12, 2011. Archived January 9, 2017. URL:

  22. Andy Rowell. “Hard Rockers,” The Guardian, July 11, 2001. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  23. “Progressive Environmentalism: A Pro-Human, Pro-Science, Pro-Free Enterprise Agenda for Change” (PDF), National Center for Policy Analysis, April 1991. Retrieved from Greenpeace USA. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  24. Environmental Task Force,” National Center for Policy Analysis. Archived February 6, 2007. URL:

  25. “Contact Us,” Adam Smith Institute. Archived January 10, 2017. URL:

  26. Scientific Alliance,” SourceWatch. URL

  27. Alex Singleton. “Parliament goes hostile on climate change,” Adam Smith Institute, September 11, 2013. Archived April 30, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  28. Matthew Lesh. “Extinction Rebellion's clueless doom-mongering is finally getting the scrutiny it deserves,” The Telegraph, October 10, 2019. Archived October 10, 2019. URL

  29. Health groups dismayed by news 'big tobacco' funded rightwing thinktanks.” The Observer, June 1, 2013. Archived September 29, 2015. URL

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