It’s a reveal which unfortunately surprises no one.
We knew that oil companies are investing into making it seem like climate change isn’t happening. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, knew about climate change since the 70s, and yet they swept it all under the rug. In total, five big oil companies spent $114m obstructing climate news in 2015 alone, and 9 out of 10 top climate change deniers are linked with Exxon Mobil. But the coal industry doesn’t want to be left aside either.
Peabody Energy, America’s and the world’s biggest coal company, has also put money into at least two dozen groups to deny climate change and oppose environmental regulations. Known for their public rejection of climate science and refusing to believe that climate change is happening, Peabody has vehemently denied funding climate change denial groups. However, the truth was revealed during the discussions for bankruptcy the company was having.
“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.”
Notably, among their main beneficiaries, Peabody had Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Soon has been funded almost entirely by the fossil fuel industry, receiving a whopping $1.2 million to publish climate change denial research. According to leaked documents, the papers were simply “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe a testimony he prepared for Congress.
Peabody refused to comment on this matter.
“While we wouldn’t comment on alliances with particular organizations, Peabody has a track record of advancing responsible energy and environmental policies, and we support organizations that advocate sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions, in line with our company’s leadership in these areas,” Vic Svec, Peabody’s senior vice-president for global investor and corporate relations, wrote in an email to The Guardian.