A CATALOGUE OF CARBON CLUB MANIPULATION,
DISTORTION, SABOTAGE OR LYING AT THE CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS.
Unless otherwise stated, all episodes were witnessed by the author.
Specific accusation and outcome are in italics.
- May 1990, Bracknell, UK: Exxon attempts to water down the first IPCC scientific assessment report. (Attempted manipulation: unsuccessful)
- August 1990, Sundsvaal, Sweden: Don Pearlman of the World Climate Council openly coaches the Saudi Arabian delegation to the final IPCC plenary before the World Climate Conference. The Saudis deploy stalling tactics as a device to water down the IPCC’s summary report, (attempted sabotage: partially successful), including concerted effort to excise the words "carbon dioxide" from the document (manipulation: partially successful).
- January 1992, Guangzhou, China: A large climate club delegation, mostly non-scientists, attempts to prevent the pre-Rio interim IPCC scientific update reaffirming the main 1990 IPCC First Assessment conclusions. (Attempted manipulation: unsuccessful).
- February 1992, New York: The Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a lobby group representing Exxon, Mobil, Texaco, Shell, and many other oil, coal, and auto companies, uses professional sceptic Fred Singer to attack the IPCC science at a press conference during the fifth session of negotiations (INC 5). The GCC issues a briefing entitled "stabilising carbon dioxide emissions of the would have little environmental benefit," citing climatologist sceptic, Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT. (Distortion: outcome unknowable)
- May 1992, New York: At the last session of talks before Rio, the Bush Administration attempts to retreat from the widely-accepted (and ultimately agreed) Objective of the Convention. Don Pearlman - by now visibly the informal dean of the carbon club lobbyists - is seen finger-lashing a senior State Department official, publicly humiliating him, when this fails.
- May 1992, Washington and New York: Fred Singer distorts an opinion poll of climate scientists with ruthless effectiveness. Thirteen percent of climate scientists had responded to a Greenpeace questionnaire saying they thought an unstoppable runaway greenhouse effect was "probable" if no efforts were made to cut emissions. This is cast by Singer as only 13% thinking global warming itself probable, and the majority thinking it probably not true. This is widely reported at face value in the US press. (Distortion, manipulation: successful)
- June 1992, Rio de Janeiro: At the Earth Summit, with heads of state signing the newly negotiated Convention on Climate Change by the dozen, the GCC stages a press conference which lays out a central carbon club wrecking strategy for the years to come. Executive Director John Schlaes leads a concerted effort to emphasise the growing emissions of developing countries, preparing the way for a sustained attack by the carbon club on the soft underbelly of the Convention, which has ultimately led to the potential deadlock facing governments in Kyoto. (Manipulation; outcome pending)
- May 1993, Barcelona: Bush Administration climate negotiator Harlan Watson lavishes praise on Pearlman and Schlaes at an international coal industry conference, warning the industry that it is gravely threatened because of the Convention on Climate Change, and exhorting them to work with the carbon club to defend their industry.
- August 1993, Geneva: At the 8th session of talks, with the Clinton Administration’s CO2 policy still not clear, Pearlman is seen exercising the same public bullying tactics on the new US lead negotiator that he did with President Bush’s men. A World Coal Institute document headed "fighting carbon dioxide would lead to economic disaster," plumbs new depths in disinformation, but echoes a concurrent Global Climate Coalition theme that emissions limitations will cause massive US job losses.
- September 1993, New York: On the same day that the President of the Reinsurance Association of America tells an international insurance conference near Wall Street that global warming could bankrupt the insurance industry, Fred Singer writes in the New York Times that "as observations and theory diverge more strongly with each passing year, it becomes more certain there is something very wrong with the computer models that have been used to scare the world public and their governments into considering drastic, hasty actions." This is part of a renewed assault by the carbon club on climate science, aiming to head off the potential for progressive moves by the Clinton Administration. "Conservatives and industry groups," the New York Times writes, "have mounted a renewed assault on the idea that global warming is a serious and possibly catastrophic threat. In a drum roll of criticism over the last few months they have characterised the thesis of global warming as a flash in the pan,’ hysteria,’ scare talk,’ and a ploy by socialists to justify controls on the economy."
- August 1994, Geneva: At the 10th session of negotiations, the largest-ever carbon club presence carries a twin-pronged attack on science and competitiveness. "To date," John Schlaes wrote in a Global Climate Coalition submission, "science has been unable to establish what qualifies as a dangerous level of greenhouse gas concentrations. This makes a judgement on the adequacy of commitments logically impossible." (Misrepresentation tantamount to distortion: effect unknowable).
- September 1994, Geneva: Don Pearlman reportedly orchestrates an emasculation of a key IPCC report. Environment groups send a letter to the co-chair of the IPCC’s policy responses working group, copied to every key IPCC official and many heads of national delegations, alleging that an IPCC meeting in Geneva had produced a draft policymakers summary which had been systematically amended in such a way as to remove most of its key policy conclusions. By and large, the letter alleges, the amendments and deletions to this text had been made in response to the objections of only one or two countries and of only a few industry lobbyists. (Manipulation: successful)
- February 1995, New York: At the 11th session of negotiations, the GCC releases a study by a weather consultancy, Accu-Weather, which claims that there was no convincing observational evidence that extremes of temperature and rainfall were on the rise. The temperature claim was based on three supposedly "representative" stations, all in the USA, and the precipitation claim - incredibly - was based on just one station. As though one, or three, stations could represent the whole USA. As though the USA could represent the whole world. A press conference for the print media goes badly, reportedly, when the journalists learn what the analysis is based on, but still significant damage is done via unquestioning television and radio news. (Distortion - disinformation at its very worst: partially successful)
- March 1995, Washington and Berlin: The Global Climate Coalition tries to bully the President of the Reinsurance Association of America into not attending the Berlin Climate Summit to discuss the financial sector’s emerging concerns about global warming. (Attempted manipulation: unsuccessful)
- March/April 1995, Berlin: At the Berlin Climate Summit, Der Spiegel reporters investigate Don Pearlman, and trap "the high priest of the carbon club," as they call him, in a lie. A Dutch climatologist tells them about the tampering Pearlman has organised, via the Kuwaitis, in the IPCC process. At a critical meeting, the Kuwaitis evidently tried to submit amendments, in Pearlman’s own handwriting, of otherwise undisputed statements. And at a vital late night session of talks in New York in February, where the carbon club had so blatantly ferried instructions to the OPEC delegations that UN officials had told the lobbyists to quit the negotiating chamber. Pearlman denied to Der Spiegel that such a thing happened. A UN official confirmed it, on record. (Lying: unsuccessful)
- Texaco’s head of communications, Clem Malin, heads the International Chamber of Commerce delegation to the Berlin Climate Summit, where he is supposed to speak for all industry sectors including those particularly threatened by climate change, such as insurance. Instead, he boasts to an audience of several hundred about his scale of his company’s capital expenditure on oil, saying "we are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution." (Unfair representation of the wider business constituency, tantamount to manipulation: outcome unknowable)
- The Global Climate Coalition says of the Berlin Mandate that "it’s clear the agreement gives the developing countries like China, India and Mexico a free ride," paving the way for their subsequent successful effort to whip up concern in the US Senate, and exert pressure on the Clinton Administration to make emissions-limitation commitments contingent on developing world action - the stance that could yet wreck the climate negotiations.
- November 1995, Madrid: At the final plenary of the IPCC scientific working group, as the crucial policymakers summary of the Second IPCC Assessment is drafted, Don Pearlman - a non-scientist - overtly issues instructions to oil-ministry officials from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (also non-scientists). So blatant is the manipulation, that one senior US climatologist asks if he can have his name removed from the final report.
- June 1996: The Global Climate Coalition orchestrates a campaign to discredit Ben Santer, a lead author of the Second IPCC Assessment. Santer had altered the text of the draft to reflect changes agreed in Madrid – as requested by the meeting. The GCC sought to cast this as scientific fraud, saying "the changes quite clearly have the obvious political purpose of cleansing the underlying scientific report." The IPCC’s leadership point out that Santer was merely following agreed procedures. (Distortion: outcome unknowable).
- October 1997: Exxon is prominent in a US Chamber of Commerce campaign to derail the Kyoto Protocol by casting it as a document that lets the developing world off any commitments on greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile Exxon’s boss Lee Raymond tells the Chinese at the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing that attempts to curtail fossil fuel use were "neither prudent nor practical."