New court filings illuminate academia’s deep role in climate industry

Guest Post by Chris Horner

You may have noticed the media cycle has subtly begun for next week’s House Oversight Committee climate change show-trial, as energy crises unfold worldwide and President Biden prepares to take 13 Cabinet members and no grants of legislative authority from Congress supporting his “climate” agenda to the annual “Conference of the Parties” in Glasgow (where, like President Obama before him, he will claim that while legislative authority would be nice, in its absence he will do what he wants anyway — not, in fact, how these things are supposed to work).

With that backdrop, see the attached opening trial brief and declarations of Lindzen, Happer, Horner and Walter which were filed on Friday in open records litigation in Los Angeles. The subject of the records at issue is the role of academia (specifically, plaintiffs’ tort bar consultants among UCLA Law faculty) in the climate litigation industry, and what they boast of to at least one major donor behind these efforts. You may recall one such email by UCLA Law faculty describing the AGs, activists, “prospective funders” and faculty gathering at the “secret meeting at Harvard” was “about going after climate denialism—along with a bunch of state and local prosecutors nationwide”. 

As context to the Regents’ behavior in this matter, the trial brief and declarations detail the climate industry’s Enron origins, and the role of academics supporting the plaintiffs’ effort (also noted is the spate of briefings of federal judges by the plaintiffs’ side, initiated after Judge Alsup dismissed litigation against oil companies in the Northern District of California, which briefings also trace back to UCLA faculty).

In another footnote, early in the attached Horner Declaration, you’ll find timely reference to a 1999 email warning of the consequences of seeking to rig the economics of the energy industry in the name of “global warming” (later, climate change). Cue the past few weeks’ headlines from around the world manifesting just those consequences:

Maybe Enron can dodge the macro problem and have our micro benefits, but then again I have to think that a politicized international energy market for any reason will create as much or more downside than upside. (April 1, 1999 memo to Lay)

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, as cynical as they were about it, Enron Knew.…a couple very important things*. Despite being the company that had bet the most on greenhouse warming and most wanted the alarmism to take root, Enron also knew the systemic economic risks from pushing the climate agenda. But, in the pursuit to “make [itself] rich,” plowed ahead. Others followed in Enron’s footsteps, with far too much success, and we all are now facing the consequences.

* PS See here for the other key point Enron knew, something that puts the lie to the very foundation underpinning the ongoing climate litigation tsunami — Enron knew and bitterly debated the uncertainties of the theory underpinning the climate agenda.

The excerpts from and links to emails and memos debunk the claims that, as one piece put it, “The Utilities Knew, Exxon Knew, Shell Knew, They All Knew” of catastrophic man-made global warming in the 1970s, or 1980s…showing there was instead intense and often bitter internal fighting over the risks of designing business plans around the theory when it was so laden with uncertainty. That was in the late 1990s.

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October 18, 2021 at 01:24PM

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