Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding

8 12 2015
princeton 2

Leading climate sceptic who will testify at Ted Cruz senate hearing today agrees to write pro-fossil fuel paper secretly funded by oil company

A Greenpeace undercover investigation has exposed how fossil fuel companies can secretly pay academics at leading American universities to write research that sows doubt about climate science and promotes the companies’ commercial interests.

Posing as representatives of oil and coal companies, reporters from Greenpeace UK asked academics from Princeton and Penn State to write papers promoting the benefits of CO2 and the use of coal in developing countries.

The professors agreed to write the reports and said they did not need to disclose the source of the funding.

Citing industry-funded documents – including testimony to state hearings and newspaper articles – Professor Frank Clemente of Penn State said: “In none of these cases is the sponsor identified. All my work is published as an independent scholar.”

Leading climate-sceptic academic, Professor William Happer, agreed to write a report for a Middle Eastern oil company on the benefits of CO2 and to allow the firm to keep the source of the funding secret.

Happer is due to appear this afternoon as a star witness in Senate hearings called by Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

In emails to reporters he also revealed Peabody Energy paid thousands of dollars for him to testify at a separate state hearing, with the money being paid to a climate-sceptic think tank.

Republican Candidates Speak At Sunshine Summit In Orlando

 

Read the emails with Professor Frank Clemente

Read the emails with Professor Happer and the Donors Trust

The investigation also found:

  • US coal giant Peabody Energy also paid tens of thousands of dollars to an academic who produced coal-friendly research and provided testimony at state and federal climate hearings, the amount of which was never revealed.
  • The Donors Trust, an organisation that has been described as the “dark money ATM” of the US conservative movement, confirmed in a taped conversation with an undercover reporter that it could anonymously channel money from a fictional Middle Eastern oil and gas company to US climate sceptic organisations.
  • Princeton professor William Happer laid out details of an unofficial peer review process run by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK climate sceptic think tank, and said he could ask to put an oil-funded report through a similar review process, after admitting that it would struggle to be published in an academic journal.
  • A recent report by the GWPF that had been through the same unofficial peer review process, was promoted as “thoroughly peer-reviewed” by influential columnist Matt Ridley – a senior figure in the organisation.

The findings echo the case of Willie Soon, who was the subject of an investigation published in the  New York Times earlier this year. The investigation revealed that Soon had accepted donations from fossil fuel companies and anonymous donors in return for producing climate-sceptic scientific papers. He described his studies as “deliverables” and failed to declare who paid for the research.

The revelations also follow a series of reports showing fossil fuel companies burying the truth about climate change, while funding flawed research to cast doubt on the scientific consensus.

Read the rest of the story here.

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