The CO2 Coalition
The CO2 Coalition is a 501(c)(3) organization that arose from the defunct George C. Marshall Institute in 2015, taking over it’s work on energy and climate change. Its stated purpose is to make climate change a more evenly debated topic by questioning humans’ role, analyzing the limitations in climate modelling, and investigating the impacts of CO2 regulations.
So far, the CO2 Coalition has aggregated articles and research papers from other sites. It stated that its staff may engage in lobbying if legislation with “mistaken bias” comes before a legislative body.
One of their primary goals is to advocate for the role of science and the scientific process in policy making. In the process, its main argument is that “Higher carbon dioxide levels will be beneficial for the Developing World”.
The CO2 Coalition arose from the defunct George C. Marshall Institute, which received $495,000 from Koch foundations since 1997. The Institute also received $645,000 between 2001-2008 from ExxonMobil.
The CO2 Coalition, along with DonorsTrust, allows fossil fuel companies to anonymously pay them for “independent” research on the benefits of CO2 emissions, otherwise known as “academics for hire”. In 2015, Greenpeace UK reporters uncovered that Professor William Happer, who is also the Director and President of the CO2 Coalition, accepted $250 per hour to write about the benefits of carbon dioxide, as long as the money was paid to the CO2 Coalition.
Peabody Energy paid $8,000 to the CO2 Coalition for Happer's testimony at a state hearing about the environmental and socioeconomic costs of carbon dioxide. By donating money via Koch-funded conservative think tanks, Happer and other researchers can state that “the author received no financial compensation for this essay” when publishing research papers. This allows energy companies to manipulate scientific consensus while remaining anonymous. Moments before the hearing began, Greenpeace activists questioned Happer about payments from Peabody:
While the CO2 Coalition does not outright deny that climate change is occurring, their main goal is to advance climate change skepticism by promoting the message that increased CO2 levels will benefit the planet. They argue that “plant life will be enhanced”, and argument espoused by the Idso’s, a family of climate denialists who have produced decades worth of research promoting doubt over established scientific consensus. Craig Idso is a Coalition Member of the organization. Idso worked directly for Peabody as its Director of Environmental Science from 2001 to 2002, and Idso's organization, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, was revealed to be financed by Peabody Energy, according to the company's own bankruptcy filings from 2016.
Many of the arguments used by the CO2 Coalition are misleading or inaccurate, largely mirroring the arguments made by the Idso family. The Coalition argues that increased CO2 emissions would boost farm productivity and create a greener, lusher planet. The organization does not take into account increased temperature, rates of evapotranspiration, increased use of fertilizers, increased insect and disease vulnerability, and desertification when making these predictions.
After launching, the CO2 Coalition was promoted by Robert L. Bradley, Jr. of the Institute for Energy Research's "Master Resource" website, which frequently published commentary casting doubt on the validity of climste science or its implications for public policy, but infrequently publishes anything by scientists. Bradley, a former Enron executive, and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch co-founded the group that eventually became Institute for Energy Research in 1984.