Global Climate Coalition

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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.
Global Climate Coalition (GCC) is a coalition of the largest oil, gas, coal, car and chemical companies and trade associations, set up in 1989 'to coordinate business participation in the scientific and policy debate on the global climate change issue'. Members include corporate giants such as Exxon, Du Pont and Union Carbide. Both Shell and BP Amoco have recently left the GCC in an attempt to project a more environment-friendly image.

GCC employs E Bruce Harrison, one of the main anti-environment PR firms, to direct its campaign to discredit the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and undermine the global climate change treaty. This panel of 300 independent experts has published several reports which concluded that the earth is warming up due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, and urgent action is needed to avoid the destructive impact of climate change - flooding, extreme weather etc.

The GCC has successfully lobbied the US government to avoid or water down inter-national controls at climate negotiations at Rio, Berlin and Kyoto. Its strategies include questioning the scientific basis of climate change, shifting the blame of climate change to developing countries, and using the threat of US job losses. It promotes the research of industry-funded scientists, and sets up its own 'grassroots' campaign groups which promote 'wise use' of the earth's resources. Another tactic is the sponsorship of front organisations such as the National Wetlands Coalition which projects an image of environmental protection while promoting oil drilling in wetlands.

Scientists agree that the greenhouse effect is a real, naturally occurring phenomenon. Greenhouse gases trap the sun's warmth in the lowest layers of the atmosphere, keeping Earth warm enough to sustain life. Without the natural greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would fall to about zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18C). The earth's average temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (F), but in the natural greenhouse effect, atmospheric water vapor and clouds play a far greater role than other greenhouse gases. To put this in perspective, even if all man-made greenhouse gases were to disappear, water vapor and clouds would still leave us with almost all of the current greenhouse effect.

Scientists also agree that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases (such as CO2) are increasing as a result of human activity. But scientists differ on the rate and magnitude of the 'enhanced greenhouse effect' (warming) that will result due to the increase in the concentrations of these gases or warming of the planet, because the role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood.

The Global Climate Coalition believes that climate change is a long-term, global issue, and therefore policies to address climate concerns must also be designed for the long-term by all nations. The GCC believes that it is imperative that climate policies focus on responsible

voluntary actions, including further research, innovation and deployment of current and potential future technologies in developed and developing nations to address concerns about the climate. Unrealistic targets and timetables, such as those called for under the Kyoto Protocol, are not achievable without severely harming the US economy and all American families, wo r ke r s, seniors and children. A new approach to climate policy is needed.

The 21st Century Climate Action Agenda is intended to serve as a living document to help guide the Global Climate Coalition in its continuing partnerships with policy makers in the international community, in the Congress, and in the current and future Administrations to responsibly and effectively respond to global concerns about the climate.

Since its inception, GCC has been a leading voice for business and industry in the climate change debate both domestically and internationally. GCC has represented its membership at all international negotiations including those in Rio de Janeiro, Geneva, Berlin, Kyoto, Bonn and Buenos Aires. GCC is also involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), providing comments on and peer review of the IPCC's scientific assessment summaries.

The Global Climate Coalition is active in the debate on global climate issues because of the concern its members share about the potentially enormous impact that improper resolution of those issues could have on the nation's industrial base, our customers and their lifestyles, and the national economy. To respond effectively to those issues, and still avoid unnecessary social and economic disruptions, the Global Climate Coalition advocates the following principles as a reasoned approach to general climate change. 1 The issues relating to global climate change are serious ones that must be addressed comprehensively and equitably by all nations.

2 Science must serve as the foundation for overall global climate policy decisions and enhanced scientific research must be the first priority. 3 Even if all of the scientific uncertainties were resolved, sound policy decisions must consider the economic and social impacts of alternative policy choices. 4 The United States can make important contributions to improving the global environment and conditions for development by encouraging technology transfer to developing nations, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Scientific foundation

A bedrock principle for addressing global climate change issues is that science - not emotional or political reactions - must serve as the foundation for global climate policy decisions. Policy decisions, made without benefit of adequate scientific understanding of the complex global change phenomenon, could have far-reaching and unnecessary social and economic impacts, including altered energy use and employment patterns, and perhaps fundamental lifestyle changes. Indeed, strategies that provoke serious economic, social, environmental, or political dislocations could affect worldwide development as profoundly as any potential adverse climate change.

Existing scientific evidence does not support actions aimed solely at reducing or stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. GCC does support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to increase greenhouse gas sinks that are justified for other economic or environmental reasons.

International approach

Global climate change must be addressed comprehensively and equitably by all nations. The United States must not pursue a course of unilateral punitive measures to stabilize or reduce emissions: to do so would impose severe and inequitable burdens on our economy, our citizens and our competitiveness. Drastic reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions would not yield significant reductions in global emissions. Any US action must be part of an equitable multilateral agreement that minimizes trade and domestic economic distortions. The active cooperation of developing countries is essential for any effective global response to global climate change. Developing nations already account for a significant portion of total emissions, and their contributions are expected to account for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Comprehensive research

Sound policy decisions must consider the economic and social impacts of alternative policy choices. First, further research on global economic development is essential to help predict the potential growth of emissions and our technological ability to control those emissions. Second, economic analysis is essential to determine the likely costs of various actions, and the benefits that those policies would yield. Third, the economic impact of any particular strategy may vary significantly among different regions. Thus, regional impacts must be examined to ensure that burdens are equitably shared. from GCCwebsite

Global Climate Coalition Ignored its own scientists

In a recent article in the New York Times entitled “Industry Ignored its Scientists on Climate” [1]. Andrew Revkin points to new evidence concerning the Global Climate Coalition. It states that the GCC for more than a decade ‘led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases lead to global warming”. The coalition in that time pointed to uncertainty in the scientific world, fostering an argument against the idea that greenhouse gases were responsible. However, new documents have come to light which shows that even as the coalition worked to manipulate opinion, that its own scientists were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases was sound. In an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995, the coalitions scientists wrote “The scientific basis for Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied”. Stating that in 1997, the year that the Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated, that the budget of the GCC was, according to tax records, $1.68 Million, much of which came from the petroleum industry, Revkin continues “Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions ... By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about the consequential issue and delay government action” [2]. They didn’t have to win the argument it is suggested, only cause as much confusion surrounding the issue as possible, in order to divide public opinion. According to Revkin, documents in the shape of minutes, of a committee meeting, concerning a 17 page primer by advisors, reveal that the coalition knowingly excluded sections of the primmer which went against its agenda. One section states “The contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse emission-induced climate change” [3]. According to minutes, the committee gave its approval to the primer, but only after advisors agreed to omit the section above. The primer itself was never distributed publically. In essence the coalition had in the findings of its experts, evidence which supported the position of environmentalists at the time .Yet it knowingly decided to suppress this information. Although the coalition came to an end in 2002, lobby groups such as the American Petroleum Institute continue to take a stance against any law or policy to drastically cut emissions.

External Links


  1. Andrew Revkin, "[1]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009
  2. Andrew Revkin, "[2]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009
  3. Andrew Revkin, "[3]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009