Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are "dark money," or concealed funding.
The data also indicates that Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations.
The climate change countermovement is a well-funded and organized effort to undermine public faith in climate science and block action by the U.S. government to regulate emissions, and involves a large number of organizations, including conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and conservative foundations, with strong links to sympathetic media outlets and conservative politicians.
To uncover how the countermovement was built and maintained, Brulle developed a listing of 118 important climate denial organizations in the U.S.
He then coded data on philanthropic funding for each organization, combining information from the Foundation Center with financial data submitted by organizations to the Internal Revenue Service.
The final sample for analysis consisted of 140 foundations making 5,299 grants totaling 558 million dollars to 91 organizations from 2003 to 2010. The data shows that these 91 organizations have an annual income of just over 900 million dollars, with an annual average of 64 million dollars in identifiable foundation support.
Approximately 75 per cent of the income of these organizations comes from unidentifiable sources.
The study has been published in Climatic Change