Global Climate Coalition

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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.

Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was 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 included corporate giants such as Exxon, Du Pont and Union Carbide. Both Shell and BP Amoco left the GCC in an attempt to project a more environment-friendly image.

GCC employed E Bruce Harrison, one of the main US 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. The panel of 300 independent experts published several reports which concluded the earth is warming due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases and urgent action is needed to avoid the destructive impact of climate change.

The GCC successfully lobbied the US government to avoid or water down international 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 promoted the research of industry-funded scientists, and set up its own 'grassroots' campaign groups which promote 'wise use' of the earth's resources. Another tactic was the sponsorship of front organisations such as the National Wetlands Coalition which projects an image of environmental protection while promoting oil drilling in wetlands.

Although the GCC was officially disbanded in 2001 its members have continued to wield influence over international climate policy ever since according to a Climate Investigations Center (CIC) report published in April 2019. [1]

GCC - 'comprehensive research needed'

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. [2]

Global Climate Coalition ignored its own scientists

In a 2009 article in the New York Times entitled “Industry Ignored its Scientists on Climate” [3]. 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” [4]. 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” [5]. 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. Luke McGrath, The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Quietly Undermining Global Climate Talks, Bloomberg News, 24 June 2019, accessed same day
  2. GCC website
  3. Andrew Revkin, "[1]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009
  4. Andrew Revkin, "[2]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009
  5. Andrew Revkin, "[3]", New York Times Online 23rd April 2009, Accessed April 2009