Cieo is a British thinktank founded in July 2019 by Spiked Associate Editor, Joanna Williams. [1], [2]

It describes itself as a “new think tank for a new political era,” and says it aims to “stir up the cosy consensus that exists between politicians and policymakers” and “set new ideas in motion.” [3]

Its website says it will conduct “original social research” as well as “producing critical commentaries on existing policies and practices.” [3]

While its research has focussed on democracy, education, citizenship and freedom of speech, a number of Cieo’s reports have referenced environmental issues. [4]

This includes criticising the teaching of environmental concerns in academic curricula and portraying environmental groups and activists as “proxy groups” for “corporate globalism.” [5], [6]

Cieo’s writers and researchers include a number of individuals who have downplayed the threat of climate change, including Associate Editor of The Spectator, Toby Young. [7]

As of November 2020, Cieo’s work had received coverage in The Spectator, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and Times Higher Education. [8]

Ties with Spiked magazine

A number of individuals involved in Cieo have ties with Spiked, an online magazine which has hosted a variety of anti-environmental and climate science denial articles. [7], [9]

Cieo Founder and Director Williams is Associate Editor and a former Education Editor for the magazine and has written regularly for the platform since its inception in 2001. [2], [10], [11]

Cieo authors Daniel Ben-Ami, Jim Butcher, Philip Cunliffe, Kathryne Ecclestone, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Gareth Sturdy have also been regular Spiked contributors. [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]

In 2018, DeSmog and The Guardian revealed that Spiked had received $300,000 in funding in the previous three years from Koch family foundations through its US funding arm, Spiked US Inc. [18]

The Koch-family owns the largest privately held energy company in the US, Koch Industries Inc. and has been a major funder of climate science denying groups in the US.

Stance on Climate Change

November 13, 2019

In a chapter of a Cieo report entitled “Creating a Climate of Crisis: Democracy in the Age of Climate Alarmism and Digital Serfdom,” Cieo writers David Betz, Simon Hodges and M.L.R Smith claimed[19]

If the cult of Greta Thunberg seems somewhat choreographed, that’s because it is. [19]

The Greta phenomenon did not appear out of nowhere. It is of a piece with a large, well funded, and well-organised movement practising a number of recognisable rhetorical devices. Having established a casus belli of an all-engulfing crisis the next step is to redirect the energy unleashed toward other aims.” [19]


A page on Cieo’s website states that it is an “independent think tank” and “neither rich funders nor government agencies dictate the research we undertake.” The page encourages readers to make “a one off or, even better, a monthly donation” to support its work. [20]

Annual Reports

Cieo was registered with Companies House in July 2019. As of November 2020, it had not yet published any annual reports. [1]

Key People

Joanna Williams – Williams is the Founder and Director of Cieo and Associate Editor of Spiked having been its Education Editor until 2018. [2], [21]

In September 2018, Williams became Head of Education and Culture at the right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange. Prior to that, she taught for ten years at the University of Kent, where she led the “Centre for the Study of Higher Education.” [22], [2]

Williams has written against what she sees as a decline in academic freedom and free speech, including in her book Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge. [10]

In a recent article, she criticised the teaching of climate change in schools and said that environmentalists and teachers portrayed “doomsday scenarios.” [23]

Cieo authors

Toby Young –  Toby Young is a writer, journalist and social commentator. He is Associate Editor at The Spectator and the Associate Editor of Quillette, an online “platform for free thought.” [24]

While Young has denied being a “complete climate change sceptic,” he has rejected what he calls “overly-pessimistic predictions,” and criticised climate activists, including the teen activists Greta Thunberg, for being what he calls “doomsayers” and “gloomsters.” [25], [26], [27]

As of November 2020, other researchers and authors listed on the Cieo website included: [7]

  • Daniel Ben-Ami
  • Eric Kaufman
  • David Betz
  • Jess Butcher MBE
  • Jim Butcher
  • Philip Cunliffe
  • Kathryn Ecclestone
  • Simon Hodges
  • James Hodgson
  • Mo Lovatt
  • Jennifer Powers
  • Rebecca Lowe
  • Joe Nutt
  • Alka Seghal Cuthbert
  • Michael Rainsborough alias M.L.R Smith
  • Gareth Sturdy


January 19, 2020

Cieo published a report on the subject of “Future Citizenship” which claimed concerns around health and well-being, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability had “taken over” school and university curricula to the detriment of academic concerns. [28]

The report said that environmentalism, along with “the neoliberal market, transnationalism…and a superficial cultural tolerance” was driving the education system, serving “a global, neoliberal agenda.” [29]

November 13, 2019

Cieo released a report entitled “Defending Democracy” which included a chapter on “democracy in the age of climate alarmism”. It argued that climate activists such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction rebellion were part of a “coordinated” movement backed by corporate interests. [30], [19]

April 25, 2019

In an article for Spiked entitled “Stop scaring children witless about climate change,” Joanna Williams wrote: [23]

Children are not taught too little about climate change: they are taught too much. They are made scared, and then abandoned by adults unable or unwilling to encourage a more critical approach to the discussion. Teachers could usefully help children by putting seemingly apocalyptic data into context. They could show how tipping-point dates have, since the time of Malthus, been passed, with the world’s population not only continuing to exist but thriving. They could show that even the most secure scientific knowledge around climate change is still contestable.” [23]

November 15, 2019

In an article for Spiked, Cieo author Daniel Ben-Ami wrote: [31]

No doubt many who sympathise with environmental ideas more generally would recoil at the suggestion they are elitist. They would argue that that [sic] their goal is not just to save the planet, but to make life better for people, too. However, those who take this view should look more closely at what is being said by green thinkers. They would see that greens’ ambition is to slash living standards far more harshly than anything the Tories have attempted over the past decade. Environmentalism is essentially an attempt by a section of the elite to make super-austerity socially acceptable.” [31]

Ben-Ami has previously said environmentalists overestimate “the extent to which humans cause problems” and an article he previously wrote on the benefits of economic growth for the environment was shared by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. [32], [33]

Contact & Address

According to Companies House, Cieo is registered at the following address: [1]

17 Harcourt Drive


United Kingdom


Cieo lists the following contact details on its website. [34]

[email protected]

07519 180 840

Social Media


  1. Cieo Ltd,” Companies House. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  2. Joanna Williams,” Cieo Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  3. About,” Cieo. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  4. Research,” Cieo. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  5.  “Defending Democracy,” Cieo. Archived November 13, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  6. Future Citizenship,” Cieo, January 2020. Archived November 16, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  7. People,” Cieo. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  8. Saving Britain’s Universities,” Cieo. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  9. Ben Pile. “The myth of a climate crisis,” Spiked, September 26, 2018. Archived September 26, 2018. URL:
  10. Matthew Reisz. “Joanna Williams: courage of her convictions,” Times Higher Education, January 6, 2016. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  11. Joanna Williams,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  12. Daniel Ben-Ami,” Spiked. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  13. Jim Butcher,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  14. Philip Cunliffe,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  15. Kathryn Ecclestone,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  16. Alka Sehgal Cuthbert,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  17. Gareth Sturdy,” Spiked. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  18. Mike Small. “Revealed: US Oil Billionaire Charles Koch Funds UK Anti-Environment Spiked Network,” DeSmog, December 7, 2018. 
  19. Defending Democracy,” Cieo. Archived November 13, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  20. Donate,” Cieo. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  21. About,” Joanna Williams (personal website). Archived August 30, 2018. URL:
  22. Policy Exchange announces new Education and Skills team,” Policy Exchange, September 4, 2018. Archived November 16, 2020. URL: 
  23. Joanna Williams. “Stop scaring children witless about climate change,” Spiked, April 25, 2019. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  24. About,” Quillette. Archived November 16, 2020. URL:
  25. Toby Young. “I’m not a complete climate change sceptic, but do think climate change zealots often overstate their case, going far beyond the science, for moralistic reasons,” Tweet by @toadmeister on August 15, 2019. Retrieved from Archived July 16, 2020. Archive .png on file at DeSmog.
  26. Toby Young. “I think the problem with overstating — eg Prince Charles saying we have 18 months left to save the planet — is that when the overly-pessimistic predictions turn out to be inaccurate the public begins to lose trust. And if you can’t bring them with you on ,” Tweet by @toadmeister on August 15, 2019. Retrieved from Archived July 16, 2020. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  27. Toby Young. “Climate doomsayers keep putting sell-by dates on their credibility,” Spectator, February 1, 2020. Archived July 16, 2020. URL
  28. All new report out today explores the future of citizenship. Is national citizenship out-dated? Must we abandon our attachment to the nation state and become global citizens? Featuring @JimButcher2 @rakibehsan @VPupavac James Hodgson & Alex Standish.,” Tweet by @CieoThinks, January 19, 2020. Retrieved from Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  29. Future Citizenship,” Cieo, January 2020. Archived November 16, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  30. Report just out: Defending Democracy. Vital read in the run up to the general election. Is globalisation a threat to democracy? Can democracy exist without the nation state? Do electoral systems reflect national values? Download here:,” Tweet by @CieoThinks, November 13, 2019. Retrieved from Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  31. Daniel Ben-Ami. “The Green New Deal – welcome to super-austerity,” Spiked, November 15, 2019. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  32. Daniel Ben-Ami. “Beware greens in progressive clothing,” Spiked, March 2, 2016. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  33. Daniel Ben Ami. “Growth is good,” Global Warming Policy Foundation, June 28, 2011. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:
  34. Contact,” Cieo. Archived November 13, 2020. URL:

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