That Time When a Koch-Funded Washington Lawyer Made a Secret Plan to Derail the Kyoto Protocol in Europe

This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the transatlantic effort by the European sceptic Benny Peiser and Washington lawyer Chris Horner to bring down the Kyoto Protocol.

Prior to teaming up with Lord Lawson at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Benny Peiser was working with Julian Morris at his free market think tank, the International Policy Network (IPN). But, at the same time, Peiser was an advisor of the IPN’s rival British sceptic organisation, the Scientific Alliance.

The Scientific Alliance worked closely with the Virginia-based George Marshall Institute, an ExxonMobil-funded free market think tank that can claim to be among the first to attack the science of climate change.

In 2004, the British and American groups collaborated on a booklet they called Climate Issues and Questions which, once again, attacked climate science and strongly emphasised the uncertainties.

The following year, the Scientific Alliance put out the pamphlet Apocalypse No: Assessing Catastrophic Climate Change, with contributions from the usual suspects, including Peiser, Richard Lindzen, senior fellow at the Koch-funded CATO institute, and Fred Singer, head of the sceptic Science and Environment Policy Project.

The publican claimed to “raise awareness about scientific uncertainties surrounding the supposed consensus on climate change, and produce a challenge to the international process behind the Kyoto Protocol, by raising a number of pertinent questions.”

First Meeting

In January 2005, this small group of sceptics met at the Royal Institution in London, which the Guardian identifies as the UK’s “first dedicated meeting of climate sceptics.”

Peiser was among the speakers and bemoaned the fact that climate change was blamed for everything since the fall of the Mayan civilisation to the 2003 heatwave.

It is important for people to know there are eminent scientists who don’t share this viewpoint,” he said at the time.

By “eminent scientists” he was perhaps referring again to Singer and Lindzen, who were also speaking at the Scientific Alliance meeting. Singer used the opportunity to attack the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for scaring people about CO2.

Carbon dioxide is a plant food and makes them grow faster,” he said without a hint of irony.

The following day, Chris Horner, a Washington lawyer and senior fellow at the Koch and Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), with Myron Ebell, the CEI’s director of energy and global warming policy, and CEI founder Fred Smith, set out plans for a new climate sceptic European policy think tank and drafted a funding proposal for the energy giant RWE.

Leaked Emails

Horner believes that this private printed email and PowerPoint presentation were stolen from his trash. The memo was faxed to the Guardian in London by Greenpeace US activists, with a cover sheet exclaiming: “US Republican lobbyists’ secret plan to derail Kyoto, dirty tricks campaign planned for Europe”.

Horner detailed his plans to establish a European Sound Climate Policy Coalition and argued: “In the US an informal coalition has helped successfully to avert adoption of a Kyoto-style program. This model should be emulated, as appropriate, to guide similar efforts in Europe.”

The Washington lawyer appears to have been making the case for RWE, a German utility company, to fund the think tank. He explained that industry associations were not the best weapon in the war against Kyoto, so a cross-industry coalition of six companies – each paying €10,000 – was the prescribed modus operandi.

Europe was an “opportunity” Horner enthused, adding that it “would be like Neil Armstrong, it’s a developing untapped frontier” and that “US companies need someone they can trust, and it’s just a den of thieves over there.”

RWE confirmed they had met with Horner, but claimed that they had not taken his bait. Horner, after his email and presentation was leaked, would have to abandon or seriously revise his plan for a European think tank.

Perhaps Peiser reflected on alternative words for “climate” and “coalition” in founding his new global warming policy group.

The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with Lord Lawson commanding the admiration of the sceptic cause when he raised the economics of climate change in the House of Lords.