Environment in Crisis

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Global Warming

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Front Groups


Various front groups have been formed to oppose measures to prevent global warming, particularly in the US. They include the Global Climate Information Project which was formed just before the Kyoto meeting and spent millions on newspaper and television advertising aimed at scaring the public about what an agreement at Kyoto might mean in terms of increased prices. It's members include Chevron, Chrysler, Dow Chemical, Mobil, Shell and Texaco.

The Coalition for Vehicle Choice, which is funded by car manufacturers including Ford, GM and Chrysler, also ran advertisements in the lead up to Kyoto.

The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) held a sweepstakes to encourage grassroots lobbying against a treaty. TASSC was funded by corporations such as 3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, Philip Morris, Procter and Gamble and General Motors. The Information Council on the Environment, which was a coal industry front group, incorporating the National Coal Association, Western Fuels, and Edison Electrical Institute amongst others, was formed in 1991 to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)." (Ozone Action 1997)

The Global Climate Coalition, a coalition of 50 US trade associations and private companies representing oil, gas, coal, automobile and chemical companies and trade associations, put together with the help of PR giant Burson-Marsteller, has spent millions of dollars in its campaign to persuade the public and governments that global warming is not a real threat.

On its home page it describes itself as "A voice for business in the global warming debate" with membership representing "a broad spectrum of virtually all elements of U.S. industry including the energy producing and energy consuming sectors."

In the negotiating sessions leading up to the Kyoto Conference, industry representatives made up most of the observers, under a provision that enables organisations 'qualified in matters covered by the Convention' to attend. They did not represent their firms at these meetings but represented corporate front groups such as the Global Climate Coalition and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association. (Collier 1997)

In 1998 the Global Climate Coalition publicised a study that estimated the costs of energy for the average household would increase by up to $1,740 annually and that petrol would increase by up to 66c per gallon. GCC also published estimates of job losses for each state. It then released a study immediately prior to the Buenos Aires meeting purporting to show that 6 out of 10 Americans thought the treaty would be expensive for American households and should not be implemented.

Some of these corporate front groups have come and gone as they have been exposed, only to be replaced by others. The Greening Earth Society was established in April 1998 by Western Fuels Association to convince people that "using fossil fuels to enable our economic activity is as natural as breathing". Its scientific advisors include Robert Balling and Patrick Michaels.

Another recent addition to the campaign has been the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which according to CLEAR, the Washington-based Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, seems to have a strong working relationship with both Western Fuels Association and Greening Earth Society. (CLEAR 1998)

The front group Consumer Alert formed the Cooler Heads Coalition in 1997 "to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis." It is headed by Marlo Lewis, vice president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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Additional Information:

Retallack,Simon, 1999, 'An Interview with the Global Cllimate Coaliton', The Ecologist, 29(2), pp. 52-3.

Anon., 1994, 'Coalition urges resistance to greenhouse gas demands', Chemical Marketing Reporter, Vol. 246, No. 8.

'A CLEAR Special Report: Western Fuels Association's Astroturf Empire', CLEAR, November 1998.

Hammond, Keith, 1997, Astroturf Troopers, Mother Jones, 4 December.

The Backlash Industry in Kyoto, A CLEAR View, Volume 4, Number 16, 3 December 1997.

Defending Hot Air: TASSC Takes on Global Warming, PR Watch 4(3) 1997

Ozone Action information on Global Climate Coalition.

More Ozone Action information on Global Climate Coaltion

Ozone Action information on Global Climate Information Project

The Committee to Preserve American Security and Sovereignty

Cooler Heads Coalition material on global warming

Brown, Lester R. 2000, The Rise and Fall of the Global Climate Coalition, Worldwatch Institute Issue Alert.

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© 2003 Sharon Beder