Atlas Network

Atlas Network (Atlas Economic Research Foundation)


The Atlas Network is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that describes itself as working to support a growing network of more than 500 “free market” organizations in nearly 100 countries promoting free market ideas.

Many of the member think tanks of the Atlas Network have supported climate science denial and have campaigned against legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) was founded by Antony Fisher in 1981 with the goal of spreading “innovative, market-based perspectives to issues of public policy” globally. 

In 1955, Fisher had founded the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), after conferring with free-market economist F.A. Hayek. Fisher and Hayek were part of the Mont Pelerin Society‘s early efforts. IEA became an influential London-based think tank promoting neoliberal ideas of limited government and low regulation. 1Our Story,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015. Archive URL: It has been embroiled in controversy over its influence on Brexit, its secretive funding–including funding from U.S. dark money operations Donors Trust and Donors Capital–and the disclosure of substantial funding from oil giant BP.

Atlas Network is the trading name of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Previous names have been the Atlas Foundation and the Atlas Research Foundation. The International Policy Network (IPN) in the UK, also founded by Fisher, is effectively a UK variant of the Atlas Network.

According to UK Charity Commission filings (PDF), The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK) was working as the International Policy Network, and is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, number 262982. In April 2001, with the consent of the Charity Commission, it adopted the working name of The International Policy Network, ‘IPN’, and in December 2004, ‘UK’ was added to the name.  The UK Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the IPN UK are no longer listed among UK Charities. and the UK branch was most recently operating with a new name, “Network for a Free Society.” The U.S. Atlas Network appears to be a separate entity from the International Policy Network US Inc., although Atlas Network’s 2010 financial records reveal that they continued to provide support to IPN.2Network for a Free Society (previously Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK) working as The International Policy Network UK) Annual Report and Financial Statements” (PDF),  Year ended 31 December 2010. Charity no: 262982. Retrieved from UK Charity Commission. 

The stated vision of the Atlas Network is to “win the long-term policy battles that will shape history, we need freedom champions to create credible institutes – well-managed and independent of vested interests – that use sound business practices to advance sound public policy ideas.”

SourceWatch describes the Atlas Economic Research Foundation as “The Johnny Appleseed of antiregulation groups […] on a mission to populate the world with new ‘free market’ voices.” The mission of Atlas, according to John Blundell (president from 1987 to 1990), “is to litter the world with free-market think-tanks.”3Atlas Economic Research Foundation,” SourceWatch profile.

The Atlas Network has played a role in the work of a varity of conservative think tanks including the Manhattan Institute in New York, the National Center for Policy Analysis in Texas, Instituto Libertad y Democracia in Peru, the Acton Institute in Michigan, Fundación Libertad in Argentina, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo in Chile, the Centre for Civil Society in India, Istituto Bruno Leoni in Italy, and the Association for Liberal Thinking in Turkey, among others.4Our Story,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015. Archive URL:

Atlas identifies, screens, and offers initial support to individuals and groups who want to create local think tanks. Atlas “strives to provide personal assistance to individuals who are starting a free-market institute” and offers online training programs “that will walk you through the early stages of starting a think-tank.”5FAQ,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015. Archive URL:

Stance on Climate Change

Atlas has cosponsored numerous Heartland Institute events dedicated to the proposition that climate change is not a crisis.

In a November 2014 commentary, Atlas CEO Brad Lips wrote: “The Kyoto Protocol – signed by President Clinton in 1998 (but never ratified by the U.S. Senate) – now appears to have been the high-water mark for the Global Warming movement (since coincidentally that was that last year of measured “warming”). Even those who believe global warming is a catastrophic, man-made problem now struggle to make a case that global energy austerity is a practical or cost-effective course of action.”6Brad Lips. “Defeating Piketty’s Charge – A working paper” (PDF), Atlas Network, November, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.


According to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation Website7Our Story,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015. Archive URL:

“Atlas Network is not endowed and it does not accept government funding. It does not support political candidates or parties, or otherwise involve itself in partisan politics.

We are grateful to those generous individuals, philanthropies, and businesses that entrust us with financial resources to build a greater public consensus around the ideas of a free society by advancing the Atlas Network mission.”

According to their financials page, “Atlas Network is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Atlas Network is not endowed and does not accept government funding. All of its programs depend upon the generosity of foundations, individuals, and corporations.”8Annual Reports & Financials,” Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived August 11, 2015. Archive URL:

The following totals are based on data collected by the Conservative Transparency database combined with additional information from publicly available 990 tax forms. See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on Atlas Network funding by year (.xlsx).9Atlas Economic Research Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 11, 2015.

Atlas Network as Recipient

John Templeton Foundation$9,669,538
Earhart Foundation$3,429,240
Sarah Scaife Foundation$2,365,000
Exxon Mobil$1,082,500
George Edward Durell Foundation$715,000
The Carthage Foundation$710,000
Claws Foundation$700,000
Chiaroscuro Foundation$600,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$595,369
Chase Foundation of Virginia$588,820
Donors Capital Fund$459,000
Schwab Charitable Fund$419,250
William H. Donner Foundation$415,000
The Roe Foundation$362,500
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$340,000
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation$338,000
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation$325,000
Lowndes Foundation$322,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$293,890
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation$293,000
John William Pope Foundation$255,000
Searle Freedom Trust$235,000
Ravenel and Elizabeth Curry Foundation$200,000
National Philanthropic Trust$189,000
Smith Richardson Foundation$183,000
Reams Foundation$155,000
JM Foundation$150,000
Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation$135,000
Charles Koch Institute$121,600
Center for Independent Thought$94,125
Jaqueline Hume Foundation$93,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$92,000
The Randolph Foundation$73,700
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$72,000
The TWS Foundation$60,000
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation$55,400
Robert P. Rotella Foundation$55,000
Paul E. Singer Foundation$50,000
International Policy Network$49,191
Mercatus Center$35,000
Aequus Institute$35,000
Same Line Foundation$33,700
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$28,500
Thomas W Smith Foundation$24,000
Cato Institute$20,000
State Policy Network$17,894
Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation$17,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$12,460
Bradley Impact Fund$10,000
Philip M. McKenna Foundation$10,000
The Rodney Fund$8,000
Abstraction Fund$7,000
Armstrong Foundation$5,000
William E Simon Foundation$5,000
The Opportunity Foundation$2,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation$1,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice$1,000
Heritage Foundation$450
Grand Total$29,126,817

Atlas Network as Donor

DonorTotal Contributions
Students for Liberty$460,405
George Mason University$235,960
Prague Security Studies Institute Washington$224,750
International Freedom Educational Foundation$179,844
Taliesin Nexus$163,009
Hispanic American Center for Economic Research$132,198
Cato Institute$121,545
Show-Me Institute$120,100
Foundation for Government Accountability$115,194
Bluegrass Institute$105,000
Acton Institute$100,000
Education Intelligence Agency$95,000
George Mason University School of Law$86,000
Goldwater Institute$56,250
Free Africa Foundation$53,000
The Prometheus Institute (Irvine CA)$50,850
Foundation for Democracy in Russia$50,000
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy$50,000
Illinois Policy Institute$47,300
National Review Institute$45,800
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education$45,641
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty$30,000
Mercatus Center$30,000
University of Richmond$27,500
Free To Choose Network$26,350
Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions$25,800
John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy$25,800
American Slovenian Education Foundation$25,000
Libertas Institute$25,000
PSSI Washington$25,000
State Policy Network$25,000
George Mason University Foundation$25,000
The Bastiat Society$24,000
The Americas Forum$23,000
European Students for Liberty$21,480
Foundation for Economic Education$21,000
Intellectual Takeout$20,500
Northwood University (Michigan)$20,500
Mackinac Center for Public Policy$20,300
Pelican Institute for Public Policy$20,250
Association of Private Enterprise Education$20,000
Archbridge Institute$20,000
Evergreen Freedom Foundation$20,000
Reason Foundation$20,000
The Independent Institute$19,425
Rockford College$18,300
North Dakota Policy Council$17,500
Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia$16,056
The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College$16,000
Idaho Freedom Foundation$15,500
National Center for Policy Analysis$15,000
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs$15,000
Liberty Foundation$15,000
American Principles Project$15,000
American Traditional Institute$15,000
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty$14,525
Think Freely Media$13,000
The Ryan Foundation$12,000
Brown University$10,500
American Center for Civic Character$10,500
Deep Springs International$10,500
Ocean State Policy Research Institute$10,450
Competitive Governance Institute (Formerly Sam Adams Alliance)$10,200
Center for Investigative Journalism in the Americas$10,000
Mises Institute$10,000
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity$10,000
Advance Arkansas Institute$10,000
Bastiat Society$10,000
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise$10,000
Institute to Reduce Spending$10,000
Peak Freedom Forum$10,000
College of Charleston Foundation$10,000
Alabama Policy Institute$10,000
Moving Picture Institute$10,000
Institute for Humane Studies$10,000
Common Sense Institute of New Jersey$10,000
Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives$10,000
University of Detroit Mercy$10,000
Beloit College$10,000
Independent Institute$10,000
International Policy Network US$10,000
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research$10,000
Rio Grande Foundation$10,000
Human Rights Foundation$10,000
Institute for Justice$10,000
Texas Public Policy Foundation$9,500
The Fund for American Studies$9,000
James Madison Institute$9,000
Platte Institute for Economic Research$8,197
East Carolina University$8,000
Interamerican Institute for Democracy$8,000
American Friends of the Institute of Economic Affairs$7,500
Pacific Legal Foundation$7,000
Alaska Policy Forum$6,580
Swaniti Initiative$6,500
Washington Policy Center$6,100
Rhodes College$6,000
Saint Vincent College$6,000
American Principles in Action$5,800
Polish-American Foundation for Economic Research and Education$5,600
Just Facts Inc.$5,500
Liberty Fund$5,164
Grand Total$3,708,423

Tobacco Industry Funding

According to PR Watch, Philip Morris contributed over $475,000 to Atlas in 1995 alone.10Atlas Economic Research Foundation: the think-tank breeders,” PR Watch, Third Quarter 2004, Volume 11, No. 3. Archived February 13, 2006. Archive URL:

ExxonMobil Funding

According to ExxonSecrets, Atlas has received a total of $1,082,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998.11ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Atlas; AERF. Archived June 28, 2017.

Koch Funding

According to data collected by Greenpeace USA, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation has received $348,560 in combined donations from Koch-related foundations between 1998 and 2015.12Atlas Network: Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. URL:

*Original tax forms prior to 1997 are no longer available for verification. If you include these values, the grand total jumps to $408,560 in Koch funding from 1987 to 2015.13Atlas Network: Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. URL:

YearCharles Koch FoundationCharles Koch InstituteClaude R. Lambe Charitable FoundationGrand Total
*1987$2,500  $2,500
*1988$5,000  $5,000
*1989$20,000  $20,000
*1991$5,000  $5,000
*1992$2,500 $25,000$27,500
1998  $3,500$3,500
2001$5,000  $5,000
2006$3,800  $3,800
2007$25,000  $25,000
2008$35,000  $35,000
2009$38,800  $38,800
2012$28,522  $28,522
2013$25,000  $25,000
2014$64,912$14,900 $79,812
2015$82,426$21,700 $104,126
Grand Total$343,460$36,600$28,500$408,560

990 Forms

Key People

View the attached spreadsheet for additional information and sources on the Atlas Network’s key people year over year (.xlsx).


June 13, 2016

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch) reports that the Atlas Economic Research Foundation was named as a creditor in Peabody Energy’s bankruptcy filings.14Nick Surgey. “Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding,” PRWatch, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. Archive URL:

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy’s financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial.15In re: Peabody Energy Corporation, et al. Debtors,” United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division,  Case 16-42529, May 27, 2016. Retrieved from DocumentCloud.

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRichard LindzenRoy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more.16Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmog, June 13, 2016.

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings:17Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change,” The Guardian, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. Archive URL:

“These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

“The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

“We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:

Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:

August 2015

Atlas announced that Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs was a finalist in its flagship Templeton Freedom Awards for a campaign against the country’s laws that had put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

IPA executive director John Roskam described the laws as “the greatest threat to the free market in Australia since bank nationalisation in 1947.”  The laws, introduced despite a toxic anti-science campaign promoted by the IPA, were repealed in July 2014.  

The IPA’s campaign included organising and funding speaking tours and promotions for climate science deniers, including former Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus, mining industry figure and geologist Professor Ian Plimer and writer and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole.

May 16–18, 2010

Atlas Economic Research Foundation was listed as a Co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4).184th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute. 

The conference’s theme was “Reconsidering the Science and Economics,” and its purpose was “the same as it was for the first three events: to build momentum and public awareness of the global warming ‘realism’ movement.”

DeSmogBlog concluded 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) had received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (who funded 13 of the organizations), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 organizations) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 organizations).19 Brendan DeMelle. ” Denial-a-palooza Round 4: ‘International Conference on Climate Change’ Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries ,” DeSmog, May 13, 2010.

June 2, 2009

Atlas Economic Research Foundation was listed as a Co-Sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3) hosted in Washington, DC.20Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010. Archive URL:

The conference’s theme was “Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis,” to reflect Heartland’s belief that that “scientific debate is not over.”

April 2009

Greenpeace reports that Atlas gave over $100,000 (among other donations) to fund a “Danish study,” prepared by Danish think-tank CEPOS, that “provides clean energy opponents a means of raising questions about the viability of renewable energy and a means of directly criticizing President Obama for his statement that Denmark produces almost 20% of its electricity through wind power.”21(Press Release). “Recipients of 2009 Fisher Venture Grants,” Atlas Network, April 15, 2009. Archived January 22, 2011. Archive URL:

“[T]he study contains factual errors, its conclusions have been misrepresented and to boot, its findings are not particularly relevant to the US,” Greenpeace concluded.22“Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” (PDF), Greenpeace, March, 2010.

March 8–10, 2009

Atlas Economic Research Foundation was listed as a Co-Sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2).23Co-Sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. Archived April 28, 2011. Archive URL:

DeSmog researched the funding behind Heartland’s Second International Conference on Climate Change and found that sponsor organizations had received over $47 million in funding from energy companies and right-wing foundations.24Heartland Institute’s 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmog.

November 2003

Paul Driessen, a senior fellow at Atlas, published his book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.

February 5–8, 1998

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation hosted a conference in Orlando Florida on “Poverty and the Environment.”25Poverty and the Environment: Global Lessons – Local Solutions,” Archived February 4, 1998. URL:

According to the conference event description, “This Atlas Economic Research Foundation conference will bring together scholars and government officials from the Americas, to discuss the interrelationships between poverty, human health and environmental quality. For two days, speakers, panelists and commentators will examine deep-rooted problems … evaluate how nations have sought to solve them with central planning and governmental mandates … explore market-oriented alternatives to command-and-control approaches … and address the pros and cons of international treaties and protocols that often involve one-size-fits- all ‘solutions’ to narrowly defined environmental problems and concerns.”26Poverty and the Environment: Global Lessons – Local Solutions,” Archived February 4, 1998. URL:

The event included a tour of Disney World’s waste management facility, followed by speaker discussions on “global treaties and local solutions in the areas of packaging, solid wastes, wastewater treatment, air quality and related issues.” Speakers included the following:27Poverty and the Environment: Global Lessons – Local Solutions,” Archived February 4, 1998. URL:

Alejandro ChafuenAtlas Economic Research FoundationUSA
Hernan BüchiInstituto Libertad y DesarrolloChile
Lynn ScarlettReason FoundationUSA
Sally PipesPacific Research InstituteUSA
Calvin BeisnerCovenant CollegeUSA
Jo KwongAtlas Economic Research Foundation 
Terry AndersonPERCUSA
Harry TeasleyFormer President, Coca Cola Nestle Refreshments CompanyUSA
Roy MecklenburgWalt Disney WorldUSA
Monica Ozores-HamptonUniversity of FloridaUSA
Moderator: Deroy MurdockAtlas Economic Research FoundationUSA
Fred SmithCompetitive Enterprise InstituteUSA
Harvey AlterChamber of CommerceUSA
Henry MillerHoover InstituteUSA
Roger BateInstitute of Economic AffairsUnited Kingdom
Enrique GhersiCITELPeru
Roberto FendtInstituto LiberalRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Patricia VasquezFundacion RepublicaArgentina
Harvey AlterChamber of CommerceUSA
Charles StittFormer Deputy Mayor, City of IndianapolisUSA
Luis DiazCalRecovery, Inc.USA
Doug ReichlanUnited Water ServicesUSA
Maria Isabel Di MareUniversidad Autonoma de Centro AmericaCosta Rica
Fernando Von ZubenCEMPREBrazil
Arturo DavilaProcesaMexico
Ana Maria GarmendiaSUSTENTAMexico
Hon. Armando RibasFormer Member of Congress, ArgentinaArgentina

Atlas Network Members/Partners

As of 2022, the Atlas Network no longer listed individual partners in other countries on its website, however noted that “Atlas Network actively partners with over 500 wholly independent, nonprofit organizations spanning almost 100 countries around the globe because they share our commitment to the principles of a free society.”28Over 500 partners in almost 100 countries around the globe,” Atlas Network. Archived January 14, 2022. Archive URL:

While more recent directories have listed groups as “partners” of Atlas, older versions of Atlas’s “Freedom Directory” suggested not all groups may be direct members of Atlas.29Global Directory,” Atlas Network, Archived December 19, 2020. Archive URL:

For example, a 2005 version of the directory included the following description:30Freedom Directory,Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Archived April 11, 2005. Archive URL:

“The Atlas Economic Research Foundation maintains this Freedom Directory as a service to market-oriented institutes and their interested constituents. It provides contact and program information about think tanks that have shared in Atlas’s work or that pursue a similar vision.”

It also adds this disclaimer:

“Atlas’s Freedom Directory compiles information on more than 450 think tanks worldwide. The Directory’s default settings assume users want to search our broadest universe of active think tanks. This may result in listings of institutes that Atlas has not worked with in the past, which may differ in important ways from most market-oriented think tanks.”

The below Atlas Network list is based on a combination of member listings still available on the Internet Archive. There may be gaps in data given not every year was captured by the Internet Archive.

You can also view the above data as a spreadsheet (.xlsx).31Global Directory,” Atlas Network. Archived April 13, 2016. Archived .pdf (2016-05-10) on file at DeSmog. 32Global Directory,” Atlas Network. Accessed July 8, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

Atlas Network Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Atlas Network listed the following contact information on its website:33Contact,” Atlas Network. Archived June 29, 2016. Archive URL:

Atlas Network
1201 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
T+ 202.449.8449
F+ 202.280.1259

Giving Opportunities
Chelsea Schick, 202-449-8434

Press Inquiries
Daniel Anthony, 202-449-8441

Social Media

Other Resources


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