Sunday, April 26th 1998
Breaking News on Global Warming from the National Environmental Trust Contact Peter Kelley 202-887-8831
Big Oil’s Secret Plan to Block the Global Warming Treaty
Big Oil’s secret plan to block the global warming treaty “Recruit and train” scientists and schoolteachers to spread industry propaganda
WASHINGTON-The attached New York Times story is the first public notice of a secret $5 million plan laid by the American Petroleum Institute-on behalf of Exxon, Chevron, and an assortment of right-wing and industry front groups-to block the global warming treaty by such means as “recruiting and training” scientists and teachers to spread junk science to the public.
Philip E. Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust, commented: “This is exactly what the tobacco industry did for years-push industry-funded junk science to convince the public that there was no connection between smoking and cancer. Now the fossil fuel industry is doing the same thing, to deceive Americans into believing that there’s no connection between their burning oil and coal, and the clear and present danger to our climate.”
Internal API memos and the industry plan itself, which NET provided to The New York Times for the attached story, are available to you immediately through our fax-on-demand system. Call 732-544-5928, choose option #3 from the opening menu, and be prepared to enter your fax number. On Monday morning, April 27, the same documents will be posted on the home page of our Internet site, at www.envirotrust.com.
Among other things the oil industry plan proposes to: Spend $5 million over two years to set up a “Global Climate Science Data Center,” and persuade the media, legislators and the public that it is an objective source of information “Identify, recruit, and train” a core group of five previously independent scientists Hand-pick other scientists “whose research in this field supports our position” Set up a new front group to put industry propaganda in the hands of school- children and their teachers, under the name “Science Education Task Group” Give out grant money “for advocacy on climate science” and for “research contracts that may be deemed appropriate” Plant a story questioning climate science with ABC correspondent John Stossel or another national TV journalist (MORE)
Despite what the plan says, there is an overwhelming consensus among thousands of scientists worldwide-performing independent, peer-reviewed work-that climate change is real, dangerous, and underway. This scientific consensus is captured in the recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (created by governments explicitly to investigate the state of climate science), and a statement signed by over 2,600 scientists.
Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, are at their highest point in 160,000 years and rising geometrically. Consistent with predictions that they will act like a blanket to hold in more of the sun’s heat, global temperatures are rising too. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1980. The hottest of all was last year; both American and British government weather agencies have attributed that to global warming.
Unless emissions are curbed, the Earth’s mean temperature is projected to rise by 2 to 6 ºF in the next century. Predicted effects include melting glaciers and ice caps, coastal flooding, heat waves, crop failures, loss of fresh water supplies, spread of tropical diseases, and unpredictable weather.
The oil companies and their Washington lobbyists intend to spend $2 million in the next six months to undermine that consensus, raising the money from the American Petroleum Institute, Business Round Table, Edison Electric Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, National Mining Association, and their members. (p. 7) The plan concedes that such industries, which make money from activities that cause global warming, are virtually the only ones who oppose the global warming treaty today: “There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those ‘inside the Beltway’ with vested interests.” (p. 2)
The plan proposes that the money be passed through front groups with innocuous names such as the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow,” the “Frontiers of Freedom,” and “The Marshall Institute,” which have extensive right-wing ties. Staff members of those groups “contributed to the development of the plan,” it says, along with employees of Exxon, Chevron, and The Southern Company, an electric utility conglomerate that is one of the largest coal-burners in the country. (pp. 2, 7)
At least $3 million in additional spending is envisioned in the succeeding 18 months to sustain the group of industry-picked scientists, who would try to pass themselves off to the media and the public as “a one-stop resource on climate science” under the name “Global Climate Science Data Center.” (p. 6)
At its creation, however, the so-called “Data Center” would be “staffed initially with professionals on loan from various companies and associations with a major interest in the climate issue.” (p. 5)
Schoolchildren are targeted by a proposal to use the National Science Teachers Association “and other influential science education organizations” to “develop school materials that present a credible, balanced picture of climate science for use in classrooms nationwide.” (p. 7) A spokeswoman for the science teachers association told NET on Friday that it would do nothing like that without the approval of its board of directors.
The resulting industry materials would be sent directly to schools, the plan says; in addition, companies and grassroots groups would be recruited to try to place them in their local schools. Governors and state legislators are also targeted for briefings by the industry-sponsored “Data Center.” (MORE)
The plan’s ultimate goal appears to be total inaction on global warming: “Unless ‘climate change’ becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be no moment when we can declare victory for our efforts.” (p. 3)
In the meantime, it says, “victory will be achieved” when, among other things, “Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.” (p. 3)
At treaty talks last December in Kyoto, Japan, representatives of 160 nations agreed on a framework for a treaty to slow global warming by committing to reductions by 2012 in carbon dioxide and five other manmade greenhouse gases. Negotiations to finish the treaty resume this November in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with intermediate meetings in May in Birmingham, England, and in June in Bonn, Germany.
The industry plan to undermine confidence in climate science says it is designed specifically “to prevent progress toward implementation at the Buenos Aires meeting in November…and to erect a barrier against further efforts,” especially by indoctrinating the teachers and students. (p. 6) It threatens that: “These tactics will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 1998, and will be continued thereafter, as appropriate.” (p. 4)
The Climate Bulletin, formerly the Kyoto Bulletin, is a news fax for journalists prepared by the National Environmental Trust that covers breaking events since December’s international climate change summit in Kyoto, Japan. For previous editions, including those covering all the events that led up to Kyoto, please call David King at 202-887-8838 or consult our Internet site at www.envirotrust.com.
To: Global Climate Science Team Cc: Michelle Ross; Susan Moya Subject: Draft Global Climate Science Communications plan
As promised, attached is the draft Global Climate Science Communications Plan that we developed during our workshop Last Friday. Thanks especially to those of you who participated in the workshop, and In particular to John Adams for his very helpful thoughts following up our meeting, and Alan Caudill for turning around the notes from our workshop so quickly.
Please review the pan and get back to me with your comments as soon as possible.
As those of you who were at the workshop know, we have scheduled a follow – up team meeting to review the plan in person on Friday, April 17, form 1 to 3 p.m. at the API headquarters. After that, we hope to have a “plan champion” help us move it forward to potential funding sources, perhaps starting with the global climate “Coordinating Council.” That will be an item for discussion on April 17.
Again, thanks for your hard work on this project. Please e-mail me, call or fax me with your comments. Thanks.
Regards, Joe Walker
April 3, 1995
Global Climate Science Communications
As the climate change debate has evolved, those who oppose action have argued mainly that signing such a treaty will place the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage with most other nations, and will be extremely expensive to implement. Much of the cost will be borne by American consumers who will pay higher prices for most energy and transportation.
The climate change theory being advanced by the treaty supporters is based primarily on forecasting models with a very high degree of uncertainty. In fact, its not known for sure whether (a) climate change actually is occurring, or (b) if it is, whether humans really have any influence on it.
Despite these weaknesses in scientific understanding, those who oppose the treaty have done little to build a case against precipitous action on climate change based on the scientific uncertainty. As a result, The Clinton Administration and environmental groups essentially have had the field to themselves. They have conducted an effective public relations program to convince the American public that the climate is changing, we humans are at fault, and we must do something about it before calamity strikes.
The environmental groups know they have been successful. Commenting after the Kyoto negotiations about recent media coverage of climate change, Tom Wathen, executive vice president of the National Environmental Trust, wrote:
“…As important as the extent of the coverage was the tone and tenor of it. In a change from just six months ago, most media stories no longer presented global warming as just a theory over which reasonable scientists could differ. Most stories described predictions of global warming as the position of the overwhelming number of mainstream scientists. That the environmental community had, to a great extent, settled the scientific issue with the U.S. media is the other great success that began perhaps several months earlier but became apparent during Kyoto.”
Because the science underpinning the global climate change theory has not been challenged effectively in the media or through other vehicles reaching the American public, there is widespread ignorance, which works in favor of the Kyoto treaty and against the best interests of the United States. Indeed, the public has been highly receptive to the Clinton Administrations plans. There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those “inside the Beltway” with vested interests.
Moreover, from the political viewpoint, it is difficult for the United States to oppose the treaty solely on economic grounds, valid as the economic issues are. It makes it too easy for others to portray the United States as putting preservation of its own lifestyle above the greater concerns of mankind. This argument, in turn, forces our negotiators to make concessions that have not been well thought through, and in the end may do far more harm than good. This is the process that unfolded at Kyoto, and is very likely to be repeated in Buenos Aires in November 1998.
The advocates of global warming have been successful on the basis of skillfully misrepresenting the science and the extent of agreement on the science, while industry and its partners ceded the science and fought on the economic issues. Yet if we can show that science does not support the Kyoto treaty – which most true climate scientists believe to be the case – this puts the United States in a stronger moral position and frees its negotiators from the need to make concessions as a defense against perceived selfish economic concerns.
Upon this tableau, the Global Climate Science Communications Team (GCSCT) developed an action plan to inform the American public that science does not support the precipitous actions Kyoto would dictate, thereby providing a climate for the right policy decisions to be made. The team considered results from a new public opinion survey in developing the plan.
Charlton Research’s survey of 1,100 “informed Americans” suggests that while Americans currently perceive climate change to be a great threat, public opinion is open enough to change on climate science. When informed that “some scientists believe there is not enough evidence to suggest that [what is called global climate change] is a long-term change due to human behavior and activities,” 58 percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to oppose the Kyoto treaty. Moreover, half the respondents harbored doubts about climate science.
GCSCT members who contributed to the development of the plan are A. John Adams, John Adams Associates; Candace Crandall, Science and Environmental Policy Project; David Rothbard, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow; Jeffrey Salmon, The Marshall Institute; Lee Garrigan, environmental issues Council; Lynn Bouchey and Myron Ebell, Frontiers of Freedom; Peter Cleary, Americans for Tax Reform; Randy Randol, Exxon Corp.; Robert Gehri, The Southern Company; Sharon Kneiss, Chevron Corp; Steve Milloy, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition; and Joseph Walker, American Petroleum Institute.
The action plan is detailed on the following pages.
Global Climate Science Communications
Progress will be measured toward the goal. A measurement of the public’s perspective on climate science will be taken before the plan is launched, and the same measurement will be taken at one or more as-yet-to-be-determined intervals as the plan is implemented,
Victory Will Be Achieved When
- Average citizens “understand” (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the “conventional wisdom”
- Media “understands” (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
- Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current “conventional wisdom”
- Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
- Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extent science appears to be out of touch with reality.
Unless “climate change” becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be no moment when we can declare victory for our efforts. It will be necessary to establish measurements for the science effort to track progress toward achieving the goal and strategic success.
Strategies and Tactics
I. National Media Relations Program: Develop and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about uncertainties in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media coverage on the scientific uncertainties, and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to raise questions with policy makers.
Tactics: These tactics will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires/Argentina, in November 1998, and will be continued thereafter, as appropriate. Activities will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources (e.g., public relations counsel) arranged and deployed. In all cases, tactical implementation will be fully integrated with other elements of this action plan, most especially Strategy II (National Climate Science Data Center).
Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.
- Develop a global climate science information kit for media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the “conventional wisdom”on climate science. This kit also will include understandable communications, including simple fact sheets that present scientific uncertainties in language that the media and public can understand.
- Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.
- Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.
- Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to newspapers nationwide a steady stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored by scientists.
- Convince one of the major news national TV journalists (e.g., John Stossel ) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.
- Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998.
- Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in select markets to support national, regional and local (e.g., workshops / debates), as appropriate.
National Media Program Budget —— $600,000 plus paid advertising
II. Global Climate Science Information Source: Develop and implement a program to inject credible science and scientific accountability into the global climate debate, thereby raising questions about and undercutting the “prevailing scientific wisdom.” The strategy will have the added benefit of providing a platform for credible, constructive criticism of the opposition’s position on the science.
Tactics: As with the National Media Relations Program, these activities will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 1998, and will continue thereafter. Initiatives will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources arranged and deployed.
- Establish a Global Climate Science Data Center. The GCSDC will be established in Washington as a non-profit educational foundation with an advisory board of respected climate scientists. It will be staffed initially with professionals on loan from various companies and associations with a major interest in the climate issue. These executives will bring with them knowledge and experience in the following areas.
- Overall history of climate research and the IPCC process;
- Congressional relations and knowledge of where individual Senators stand on the climate issue;
- Knowledge of key climate scientists and where they stand;
- Ability to identify and recruit as many as 20 respected climate scientists to serve on the science advisory board;
- Knowledge and expertise in media relations and with established relationships with science and energy writers, columnists and editorial writers;
- Expertise in grassroots organization; and
- Campaign organization and administration.
The GCSDC will be led by dynamic senior executive with a major personal commitment to the goals of the campaign and easy access to business leaders at the CEO level. The Center will be run on a day-to-day basis by an executive director with responsibility for ensuring targets are met. The Center will be funded at a level that will permit it to succeed, including funding for research contracts that may be deemed appropriate to fill gaps in climate science (e.g., a complete scientific critique of the IPCC research and its conclusions).
- The GCSDC will become a one-stop resource on climate science for members of Congress, the media, industry and all others concerned. It will be in constant contact with the best climate scientists and ensure that their findings and views receive appropriate attention. It will provide them with the logistical and moral support they have been lacking. In short, it will be a sound scientific alternative to the IPCC. Its functions will include:
- Providing as an easily accessible database (including a website) of all mainstream climate science information.
- Identifying and establishing cooperative relationships with all major scientists whose research in this field supports our position.
- Establishing cooperative relationships with other mainstream scientific organizations (e.g., meteorologists, geophysicists) to bring their perspectives to bear on the debate, as appropriate.
- Developing opportunities to maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours with Congress, the media and other key audiences.
- Monitoring and serving as and early warning system for scientific developments with the potential to impact on the climate science debate, pro and con.
- Responding to claims from the scientific alarmists and media.
- Providing grants for advocacy on climate science, as deemed appropriate.
Global Climate Science Data Center Budget —- $5,000,000 (Spread over two years minimum)
III. National Direct Outreach and Education: Develop and implement a direct outreach program to inform and educate members of Congress, state officials, industry leadership, and school teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science. This strategy will enable Congress, state officials and industry leaders will be able to raise such serious questions about the Kyoto treaty’s scientific underpinnings that American policy-makers not only will refuse to endorse it, they will seek to prevent progress toward implementation at the Buenos Aires meeting in November or through other ways. Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect a barrier against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.
Tactics: Informing and educating members of Congress, state officials and industry leaders will be undertaken as soon as the plan is approved, funding is obtained, and the necessary resources are arrayed and will continue through Buenos Aires and for the foreseeable future. The teachers/students outreach program will be developed and launched in early 1999. In all cases, tactical implementation will be fully integrated with other elements of this action plan.
IV. Funding/Fund Allocation: Develop and implement program to obtain funding, and to allocate funds to ensure that the program is carried out effectively.
Tactics: This strategy will be implemented as soon as we have the go-ahead to proceed.