Non-profit

Center for Climate Integrity (CCI)

Website:

www.igsd.org/initiatives/the-center-for-climate-integrity/

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax ID:

81-0616238

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $9,982,357
Expenses: $8,885,298
Assets: $3,432,497

Formation:

2017

Type:

Initiative of IGSD

Executive Director:

Richard Wiles

The Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) is a left-of-center environmentalist organization that advocates in support of left-of-center policy aimed at addressing climate change. CCI has claimed that the world has less than 15 years before facing consequences of “existential proportions” related to climate change and has estimated that the United States will have to invest hundreds of billions to build 50,000 miles of 30- to 60-foot seawalls to prevent cataclysmic flooding. [1] [2] [3] CCI is funded by English billionaire Christopher Hohn through his Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. [4]

CCI Executive director and environmental activist Richard Wiles operates several affiliated groups that seek to punish oil companies for supposedly creating climate change and working against the passage of left-of-center environmentalist legislation. One of these sites, the Climate Docket (formerly Climate Liability News), has been described as a “dark money news” outlet. [5] Wiles describes climate change as “the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced” and has attributed natural disasters including Hurricane Harvey, California’s wildfires, record snowfall, and record heat to man-made climate change. Wiles has claimed that the damage from 16 natural disasters in 2017 was exacerbated by conventional energy emissions and climate change, advocating for the complete abandonment of conventional energy sources. [6]

Data produced by the CCI was used as foundational evidence to convince 60 U.S. Representatives to oppose language in COVID-19 legislation that sought to grant oil companies immunity from prosecution on issues related to climate change. [7]

Background

In 2017, the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) founded the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI). CCI works to build environmentalist infrastructure and create campaigns to compel companies, especially conventional energy companies, to pay penalties for the damages incurred by climate change. With assistance from IGSD, CCI has created several advocacy strategies, including direct engagement with local government, lawsuits, a podcast, a news outlet, events, lobbying efforts, advertising, and research studies. [8]

Advocacy Reports

Center for Climate Integrity made its advocacy debut after publishing two reports that garnered great attention: the “High Tide Tax” and the “Smoking Gun.” In June 2019, CCI and Resilient Analytics published “HIGH TIDE TAX: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas.” Written primarily by Richard Wiles and CCI scientist Sverre LeRoy, the 27-page study’s conservative estimates predict that sea level rise will require building 50,000 miles of seawalls in 22 states that will cost $400 billion by 2040. Florida alone would face a cost of $76 billion. [9] The authors suggest that fortification costs should be funded by massive taxes on conventional energy companies, claiming that they caused the problem of sea level rise through climate change. [10]

The study was funded by left-leaning climate change activist institutions, including the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Tortuga Fund, Patagonia, and the MacArthur Foundation. [11]  Critics have accused “High Tide Tax” of being a “masquerade” produced by attorneys for the sole purpose of laying the foundations for litigation against oil companies. [12]

Media Reaction

Left-of-center media outlets, such as the New York Times, circulated the study’s conclusions and accused climate change of triggering storms that impacted the Midwestern United States. The New York Times also called for a tax on conventional energy companies for supposedly creating climate change. [13]

In 2020, U.S. Rerpresentative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) used the report as evidence in a letter that sought to prevent conventional energy companies from gaining legal immunity from climate change prosecution through COVID-19 legislation. 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed the letter, which claimed that climate change will cost trillions of dollars and demanded that conventional energy companies pay for the costs. 22 environmentalist organizations also signed onto the letter, including CCI, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Earthjustice. [14]

Local Government Reaction

The studies also triggered CCI efforts to convince municipalities to sue conventional energy companies for climate change damages. CCI participated in a series of roadshows in places like Minneapolis,[15], Boulder,[16] and Honolulu,[17] to garner support for lawsuits against oil firms for damages supposedly created by man-made climate change. [18] In conjunction with CCI’s efforts, its parent organization, IGSD, hired lobbyist Seth Platt to work to convince cities in Florida to file lawsuits. [19] CCI also joined with the Miami Climate Alliance to purchase five billboards in Miami in order to pressure lawmakers into shouldering conventional energy companies with infrastructure costs. [20]

As part of its strategy, CCI is actively seeking an employee to run the local and state elected champions program as of April 2021. The position includes finding prospective “champions” of left-of-center climate policy, establishing relationships with them to advocate for such policy, and educating public servants and offices in at least five states. [21]

Lawsuits

CCI’s ultimate goal is to pursue litigation against conventional energy companies to receive alleged “damages” for climate change in order to fund environmentalist projects. CCI lists BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and ConocoPhillips amongst the responsible parties for climate change threats like heatwaves, wildfire, flooding, and other extreme weather events. The lawsuits seek billions of damages from each company and claim that the companies engaged in decades of disinformation about the reality of the dangers of climate change. [22] Richard Wiles has argued that the suits will have great impact, as previous litigation advanced same-sex marriage, civil rights, and tobacco and opioid restrictions. Wiles has argued that establishing legal precedents in places like Honolulu will lead to legislative success against fossil fuel companies in establishing left-of-center environmentalist policies at the federal level. [23]

CCI has tried and failed to generate lawsuits in Fort Lauderdale, Oakland, San Francisco, and New York. [24] [25] Despite its initial failures, CCI has successfully pushed for litigation in Rhode Island, Baltimore, Boulder, Seattle, and Honolulu. [26] [27] [28]

Funding

The Rockefeller Family Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund are funders of Center for Climate Integrity. The two foundations have also financed the #ExxonKnew publications and climate lawsuits. [29] The Rockefeller Family Fund provided the $1 million grant used to launch CCI in 2017. [30]

Christopher Hohn, a British national, has financed Center for Climate Integrity through his Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Hohn provided $7 million to CCI, and $9 million more to other left-of-center climate activist groups, through the Foundation in order to support legal action against conventional energy companies for causing climate change. [31] Hohn’s other activities include supporting the radical Extinction Rebellion (XR), which rallies protests against American interests for supporting conventional energy sources. Critics have labeled XR a cult, and its founder believes humankind faces extinction. [32]

The Center for Climate Integrity has a number of related and interoperating groups linked by Richard Wiles or its parent organization, IGSD. Wiles runs complementary organizations separate from CCI including the #ExxonKnew social media campaign and newsletter, the dark-money news site Climate Docket, the Pay Up Climate Polluters group,[33] and the podcast Drilled. [34] Many of these groups share the same leadership and funding. [35]

#ExxonKnew and Exxon Knews

The #ExxonKnew social media movement and Exxon Knews weekly newsletter is a result of the “Smoking Gun” CCI study which alleged that oil companies like Exxon were aware 50 years ago that their products would cause disastrous climate change effects. [36] The campaign calls for an investigation into Exxon and other oil companies to prove they knew about purported damage from climate change and to establish the extent of the penalties they will face in left-of-center environmentalist lawsuits. [37] #ExxonKnew claims that conventional energy companies “robbed humanity” of time to correct climate change. [38]

The Climate Docket

Richard Wiles is the publisher of the Climate Docket (formerly Climate Liability News), founded four days before the first lawsuit against oil companies. [39] Other Climate Docket staffers include CCI legal counsel Alyssa Johl and Kert Davies, who is a director at the Climate Investigations Center (CIC). [40] Drilled host Amy Westervelt also contributed to the Climate Docket. [41] The Climate Docket was created as a project of Climate Communications and Law (CCL) for the purpose of popularizing lawsuits against energy firms. Richard Wiles created Climate Communications and Law in 2017 from his home address, and critics have claimed that it is a shell organization for funneling anonymous funding to the Climate Docket. [42]

Critics have labeled the Climate Docket as a dark-money media venture because of its alleged murky parentage and concealed funding. The Climate Docket is in the process of being consolidated under Drilled News, which some have claimed is a further move to avoid scrutiny or liability. [43]

Drilled News

Drilled News is a podcast produced by Richard Wiles and funded by CCI. The podcast spreads publicity about the climate change lawsuit movement. [44] Amy Westervelt started Drilled, which critics claim primarily uses material from the Exxon Knew campaign. While Drilled and CCI are not officially connected, CCI hired Beaconfire Red to assist Drilled with their publicity campaign, which resulted in the Drilled podcast engaging thousands of participants, including journalists and politicians, and making over one million impressions. Drilled is also fiscally sponsored by CCI’s parent organization, the IGSD. [45] Drilled recently changed its name to Drilled News to absorb the Climate Docket and the Heated newsletter. [46]

Pay Up Climate Polluters

Richard Wiles operates Pay Up Climate Polluters (PUCP), which is a CCI public relations project. PUCP is part of the movement to use billboards, host events, and lobby elected officials to drive lawsuits against conventional energy companies and their supporters. [47]

Pay Up features snapshots of climate change damages on their website for target cities. Pay Up has claimed that polluters should be responsible for damages from natural disasters, including $120 billion in Houston for Hurricane Harvey, $500 million in Miami Beach to combat rising sea levels, and $230 billion in Hoboken for its floodwall and levee system. [48]

Pay Up Climate Polluters features evidence from the “Smoking Gun” report that allegedly “proves” oil companies knew decades ago of the supposedly catastrophic ramifications of fossil fuel use. [49] This evidence was used in the lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, but U.S. District Court Judge William Aslup debunked the evidence and criticized its use in court. [50]

Partners

CCI worked with Resilient Analytics to produce its “High Tide Tax” report. [51] Resilient Analytics is a Boulder, Colorado-based engineering company that focuses on climate change, specializing on the impacts of climate change on infrastructure and the associated financial ramifications. Resilient Analytics has been engaged in projects for groups including the United Nations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the World Bank. [52]

The Resilient Analytics staff is comprised almost entirely of graduates or students at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Paul Chinowsky is the president of Resilient Analytics and also the director of the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado, Boulder. [53] Chinowsky has been in the news for his failed attempt to have a right-of-center professor formally censured for alleged hate speech. [54] Chinowsky was also published by the New York Times warning that road construction must be adjusted for much hotter temperatures to accommodate climate change. [55]

CCI also works with the Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) on climate cases against energy companies. [56] EDLC seeks and represents people in emerging nations that need assistance protecting the environment on a pro bono basis. EDLC finds private lawyers willing to represent these environmentalists and connects them with clients to pursue left-of-center energy policy abroad. [57]

Leadership

Richard Wiles is the executive director of CCI. Allies have portrayed Wiles as a well-intentioned climate change expert, though critics have described Wiles as controversial and secretive in his climate change activism. [58] Critics have accused Wiles of structuring his environmentalist organizations to intentionally conceal their intent and orchestration. [59] Wiles’ influence is widespread throughout his organizations, as he works on every level from supervising research, to synchronizing the social media campaigns, to meeting with elected individuals to persuade them to participate in litigation. [60]

Wiles has demanded that President Joe Biden take immediate and substantial steps to stem the alleged impending disasters of climate change. His demands include directing attention to those who are culpable as the root cause of climate change, namey conventional energy companies that he argues should be financially penalized for damages. [61]

Prior to his work with CCI, Wiles launched Climate Central, a climate change advocacy that is funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund. He was the senior vice president for strategic communications and research for Climate Central from 2008 until 2017 when he became founding executive director of CCI. While at Climate Center, Wiles oversaw research studies that were later used as the foundation for lawsuits against polluters. [62]

References

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2004

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Jun Form 990 $9,982,357 $8,885,298 $3,432,497 $658,167 N $9,982,184 $0 $173 $444,472 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $7,370,688 $7,036,384 $2,955,366 $1,278,095 N $7,370,590 $0 $98 $420,104 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $3,922,156 $3,747,405 $1,490,576 $147,609 N $3,922,052 $0 $104 $375,623 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $3,139,087 $3,131,095 $2,244,818 $1,076,602 N $3,125,847 $13,200 $40 $245,104 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $2,666,372 $2,669,328 $1,310,255 $150,031 N $2,639,952 $26,400 $20 $222,820 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $3,504,238 $3,332,763 $1,311,390 $148,210 N $3,430,023 $73,200 $15 $373,609 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $3,241,902 $3,236,945 $1,054,241 $62,536 N $2,775,964 $458,858 $80 $358,848 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $2,991,978 $2,908,540 $1,298,912 $312,164 N $2,602,191 $389,355 $432 $322,943 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Center for Climate Integrity (CCI)

    2300 WISCONSIN AVE NW STE 300B
    Washington, DC 20007-1869