Guardian Hypes Anti-Energy Piece, Pushes Flawed Climate Research

Written by Spencer Walrath

oil wells rig drilling

One of the leaders of the infamous 2012 La Jolla conference has returned with more flawed climate attribution research published by The Guardian, whose reporters broke out their creative writing pens to cast major energy companies in the worst possible light while ignoring key flaws in the underlying assumptions made by the researcher.

Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute has updated his “Carbon Majors” report to allege that just 20 companies contributed to 35% of all carbon and methane emissions since 1965.

Energy In Depth reported earlier this month on Heede publishing a “training manual” so that others could replicate his work while he is “sipping rum at some beachfront on Bora Bora.”

Flawed Research, Biased Researcher, in Support of Litigation

It’s important to recall that CAI was a co-host of the La Jolla conference where activists designed a legal strategy against oil companies.

At the time, the gathering’s leaders formulated plenty of allegations of corporate wrongdoing but lacked substantive evidence.

Now magically, thanks to CAI, they’ve “discovered” the hard data they need to make the case for oil and gas companies to be sued for climate change.

Embarrassingly for The Guardian, which has taken the extraordinary step of directly allying itself with the activist group for the Keep It In The Ground campaign, the new CAI research suffers from the same flaws as the old research.

CAI’s research is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and other major anti-oil and gas funders, and its new research crucially admits that 90 percent of fossil fuel emissions can’t be attributed to these energy companies, but rather to consumers when they drive their cars, fly on airplanes, and heat their homes.

These are emissions that energy producers have zero control over, and indeed, are nearly impossible to account for, which is why the researchers had to base their entire project on estimating consumer emissions and then somehow attributing them back to energy producers.

Further undermining CAI’s credibility, Heede acknowledges in an accompanying op-ed they aren’t in pursuit of the truth, but to carry out a radical anti-energy agenda:

“The Climate Accountability Institute was formed in 2011 to confront fossil fuel companies. … We work with investigators, human rights commissioners, advocates and lawyers in an effort to curb the carbon industry’s enthusiasm for unabated fossil fuel development.”

As Energy In Depth previously reported, plaintiffs’ attorney Vic Sher, who represents several municipalities suing energy producers for climate change, revealed that he worked directly with Heede to fiddle with this research so it could be used to support his cases.

Serious Journalism, or Dime Novel Fare?

Of course, these facts don’t matter for The Guardian reporters who lather on the praise for Heede and his colleagues by calling them “world-renowned researchers,” despite the fact they admit their research is based largely on a guess.

The reporters also embrace a zeal for the dramatic by describing energy companies’ “relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas, and coal.”

That’s quite the rhetorical flourish to describe the companies that power our cars, homes, and businesses – including those of The Guardian and its staff.

The paper didn’t stop at merely sprucing up their writing with fancy (and biased) rhetoric. At the time of writing, The Guardian had published 11 pieces of content to promote this topic, including multiple articles, a video, opinion columns, and a timeline.

The Guardian reveals in the video that it actually commissioned the research by Heede and the Climate Accountability Institute, and its timeline suggests that donations to President Trump’s Inaugural Committee are somehow representative of recent efforts to promote climate denial.

The Guardian even pinned this series to the top of its homepage in a move that makes it abundantly clear that the paper is functioning as an accessory to anti-oil and gas activists.

Read more at EID Climate


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