Peabody, the world’s biggest private sector publicly traded coal company has a history of publicly rejecting climate science and action. But its funding of climate denial groups was only exposed in disclosures after the coal titan was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in April, under competition from cheap natural gas.
Recent analysis by the Guardian shows that the company has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations, which spans trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month.
Environmental campaigners said they had not known for certain that the company was funding an array of climate denial groups and that the extent of funding took them by surprise.
The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change.
“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.”
Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list.
The company agreed in November, 2015 to make fuller exposés about global warming risks under a settlement deal reached with the New York attorney general. Peabody had been under investigation for misleading investors and the public about the potential impact of climate change on its business.
Even so, the full extent of Peabody’s financial support for climate denial is unlikely to be revealed until the completion of bankruptcy proceedings.