Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement: Reprise

Screenshot_20230615-122749In Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement? I queried the assertion that Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement, discovering that it was unsubstantiated: from the info given it was simply impossible to tell. Weirdly, I was not the only one object to such; I discover that persons with whom I probably don't wish to be associated say things like Climate activists often repeat the myth that Big Oil is pouring millions into climate scepticism. The reality is that Big Green's billions are driving climate alarmism worldwide. Although that's not quite the text I want; I want, firstly, In 2019 the climate activist and UCL Geography Professor Mark Maslin wrote that oil companies were spending $200 million a year promoting something he termed “climate change denial”. The ‘dark forces’ claim has been in regular use ever since. That's $200m/y not $1b/y, which is something of a disparity. But it's only oil.

But (via a source I'll get back to in a moment) that at least provides a ref, which is How the oil majors have spent $1Bn since Paris on narrative capture and lobbying on climate by influencemap. Somewhat weirdly, that quotes the five supermajors as spending over $1b in 3 years, or ~300m/y; and refers to a 2022 update which bumps that up to $750m/y. But I doubt there's any real hope for consistency in these numbers. Having now skimmed the report, I don't think they provide enough detail to know if they've done it well or not. I'm doubtful; I think I can leave it at that.

Back to my source, which is I'm afraid to say Ben Pile, and his topic is The monolith of climate smear-mongering. He too (after a few preliminary flings) takes issue with influencemap's methodology; I leave you to judge his prose. But he then continues on to How big is the green blob, compared to big oil? which might be interesting. If he's done it well. Picking those that have funded influencemap, and then adding their total spend, he comes to 1.275b/y, or in his words In total, InfluenceMap’s funders are making grants of roughly $1.2 billion per year to climate change lobbying. Can we rely on his arithmetic? Given that he is trying to criticise "the other side" for sloppy accounting, we'd hope that he would in return strive for precision.

He estimates $478m/y for the climateworks foundation, wot I've never heard of. But they have financial information. Which allows us to see their form 990s, year by year. They've had a good 2021: income has more than doubled over 2020, as have grants. But their total expenses for the year is only $180m which is waay smaller than $478m, and not all of that can be lobbying anyway. Number 2 is the IKEA foundation, for which BP claims $334m/y; from their own report I find USD 118.7 million (62%) to climate action (SDG 13). But I think from the context that much of the money is double-counted in the sense that any one grant can count towards a number of different areas. So that's two strikes for BP and I can't be bothered to go to the third.

My overall conclusion is that no-one is producing any reliable numbers in this area.

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