Sean Hannity's Bogus Russian Climate Scandal

| Tue Dec. 22, 2009 7:50 PM EST

Late last week, Fox's Sean Hannity sent global warming skeptics into their biggest tizzy since ClimateGate when he announced that "a major Russian climate change organization dropped a bombshell:

The Institute of Economic Analysis now claims that much of its climate data was tampered with by a leading British research center. In fact, they say that any of their data that could help disprove global warming was simply ignored. Not exactly the news that all the alarmists in Copenhagen were now hoping for.

The conservative media has seized upon Hannity's "bombshell" as apparent confirmation that ClimateGate was but the tip of a solidly frozen iceberg. "Climategate goes SERIAL," crowed a blogger for the UK Telegraph, joining a chorus of triumphant skeptics in the Washington Times, the Investors Business Daily, and the Examiner.com, which described the IEA as a "key Russian ministry." What none of them mentioned is that the IEA is actually a libertarian think tank that has no scientific expertise in climatology but numerous ties to industry-backed climate change denial groups in the United States. (Needless to say, British scientists never tampered with the IEA's "data" or any other climate data)

As Media Matters first noted, IEA president Andrei Illarionov is a fellow at the US-based Cato Institute, a champion of climate change skepticism. The IEA is itself a member of the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, a group formed by the ExxonMobil-backed International Policy Network "as a response to the many biased and alarmist claims about human-induced climate change;" the DC-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation's Freedom To Trade Campaign, which circulated a "Petition Against Green Protectionism" in advance of the Copenhagen talks; and a network of global warming denying think tanks overseen by Canada's Fraser Institute, which is in turn backed by ExxonMobil and the oil-funded Koch family foundations. Illarinov has a long history of parroting the fossil fuel industry's climate claims. In 2004, he told the Moscow Times that the Kyoto Treaty will kill off the European economy like "an international Auschwitz."

Illarionov isn't alone. The IEA is part of a loose network of some 500 similar organizations in dozens of countries that are often bankrolled by American foundations that are, in turn, backed by carbon-spewing American industries. For a complete take on how they're working to end the modest progress made in Copenhagen, read today's story, Deniers Without Borders.