Global Warming Front Groups
Various front groups have been formed to oppose measures to prevent global warming, particularly in the US. Many of these groups have been funded by corporations such as ExxonMobil, foundations such as the Koch foundations. They share common spokespeople, board members and scientific advisors. In this way a small group of people can have a much larger presence in the public mind.
Front groups enable corporations to appear to be taking a responsible approach to global warming whilst undermining measures to prevent it behind the scenes through the activities of front groups. "Moreover, so-called 'astroturf' organizations and campaigns are designed to appear as spontaneous and popular grassroots efforts". Several corporations, such as General Electric, Alcoa, and Caterpiller, fund groups that support climate change measures and those that undermine them.
In the negotiating sessions leading up to the Kyoto Conference, industry representatives made up most of the observers, under a provision that enabled organizations “qualified in matters covered by the Convention” to attend. They did not represent their firms at these meetings but corporate front groups such as the Global Climate Coalition and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association.
In 1997 The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) held a sweepstakes to encourage grassroots lobbying against a global warming treaty. TASSC was funded by corporations such as 3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, Philip Morris, Procter and Gamble and General Motors. To be eligible for the $1,000 prize, contestants had to visit the Junk Science web site – where global warming science is portrayed as junk science – and email President Clinton to either sign or not sign the Kyoto treaty. A sample letter urged Clinton not to sign because of the harm it would do to energy prices and “our standard of living”.
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” and that carbon dioxide is good for the planet. It also produced a video that is available on YouTube.