Starting in July 2009, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists fielded an eight-country team of reporters to uncover the special interests attempting to influence negotiations on a global climate change treaty.
Relying on more than 200 interviews, lobbying and campaign contribution records in a half-dozen countries, and on-the-ground reporting from Beijing to Brussels, our team pieced together the story of a far-reaching, multinational backlash by fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters aimed at slowing progress on control of greenhouse gas emissions.
Employing thousands of lobbyists, millions in political contributions, and widespread fear tactics, entrenched interests worldwide are thwarting the steps that scientists say are needed to stave off a looming environmental calamity, the investigation found.
The project fielded reporters in eight of the major economies deemed essential to a successful treaty: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union. The eight are all members of the 17-nation forum of major greenhouse gas emitters that are meeting to generate ideas to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries, and to spark greater success in the larger climate talks involving as many as 192 nations. Together, the eight economies selected for this in-depth report account for 65 percent of all current global emissions of greenhouse gases.
The project relied on more than 200 interviews with lobbyists, representatives of business associations and environmental groups, and key climate negotiators to explore what interests will be pushed in Copenhagen — and who’s behind them. In addition, the team made use of lobbying and campaign contribution records in four countries and the European Union, as well as on-the-ground reporting from Beijing to São Paolo.
Editorial Director: David E. Kaplan
Deputy Director: Marina Walker Guevara
Web Editor: Andrew Green
Deputy Web Editor: Multimedia: Erik Lincoln
Deputy Web Editor: Social Media: Cole Goins
Fact-Checking: Peter Newbatt Smith, Paulette Garthoff
Communications: Sue Dorfman, Steve Carpinelli, Jeanne Brooks, New Partners
Data Editing: M.B. Pell, Aaron Mehta, Dan Ettinger
Additional Editing: Susan Headden
Information Technology: Tuan Le
Australia: Marian Wilkinson, Ben Cubby, Flint Duxfield
Brazil: Fernando Rodrigues, Marcelo Soares
Canada: William Marsden
China: Christina Larson
India: Murali Krishnan
Japan: Akiko Kashiwagi, Mitsuhiro Yoshida
United States: Marianne Lavelle, project director; Te-Ping Chen; Kate Willson
European Union: Brigitte Alfter
Interactive Maps and Graphics: Stephen Rountree
The Global Climate Change Lobby is an ICIJ project supported by the Adessium Foundation and Deer Creek Foundation.
Support for this and other Center for Public Integrity projects is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, Greenlight Capital LLC Employees, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, theJohn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Park Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and many other generous institutional and individual donors.
About the Data
The Australia, Canada, and U.S. stories drew in part from lobbyist records. In these three countries companies are required to file reports for their lobbying activities, but filing requirements vary widely from country to country. Lobbying data were also utilized from the European Union, but there reporting is voluntary by companies and therefore limited.
For more information on the U.S. data, click here.
ICIJ compiled its Canadian climate lobby database using disclosure reports filed with Canadian authorities from 1996 through August 2009. ICIJ researchers scraped records from the Canada’s lobbyist registration website, making it possible to accurately search them by keywords. The climate change lobbying database includes records for lobbyists registered to represent clients on “climate,” “global warming,” as well as relevant bills.
While the selected records show that clients lobbied on the climate change, clients frequently hire lobbyists to work on multiple issues. Thus, the data do not reflect how much time or money clients spent on specific issues.
Each lobbying record was categorized to identify the industry sector (manufacturing; mining and coal; agriculture) or group of interests (environmental and health) that best reflects the company or organization being represented. Because many lobbyists represent more than one sector, the total number of lobbyists per sector adds up to a figure greater than the number of overall lobbyists.
Australian data were compiled from state and federal official lobbyists registers. ICIJ team members from The Sydney Morning Herald analyzed the lobbying records for firms working with the 20 companies estimated to receive the most government assistance under that nation’s proposed emissions trading scheme.