DeSmog

Startling Graph Shows Donors Trust the New 'Dark Money' in Climate Denial Funding

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Have you heard of Donors Trust?

Most DeSmogBlog readers have heard for years about how the likes of the billionaire Koch Brothers, and major energy companies like ExxonMobil, have pumped tens of millions of dollars into industry front groups that are paid to attack and deny the scientific realities of climate change.

But the landscape has taken an abrupt change today, with the most stunning report so far by the UK‘s Guardian newspaper, on a little known organization called Donors Trust. 

Here’s the Guardian’s graph showing that in and around 2006, Donors Trust began to support climate science attack groups, like the Heartland Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, to the tune of more than $20 million a year:

In her article breaking the story, Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg does the math for us:

By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

More than five years ago, I wrote a story called “Why Exxon makes Koch Giggle” around the idea that while ExxonMobil was being harshly (and rightly) criticized for their funding of climate science denier groups, the Koch brothers were pumping millions more into the same groups while remaining almost completely under the radar. Now it seems that the story is “Why the Koch Brothers make Donors Trust Giggle.”

But like the Koch Brothers, who have since become the target of mass rallies and negative press almost daily, I suspect that as this Donors Trust story builds and people begin talking about it, there will be a lot of late nights for the people behind this massive new funding machine.

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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