Exxon and Koch Funded Deniers Who Pushed Trump to Exit Paris Climate Agreement

The Money Behind Paris Agreement Opposition

On May 8th, 2017, forty four climate denying “free market” anti-government organizations wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, which he did three weeks later on June 1st.

On September 5th, 2017, Robert O’Harrow Jr. of the Washington Post wrote an exposé on the Cooler Heads Coalition and its leader, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Cooler Heads Coalition members, including CEI, made up a bulk of the signatories to the May 8th letter to Trump. As the Post story says, when Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in the White House Rose Garden, “Ebell was hot, sunburned and very pleased”.

Exxon invested nearly $6 million in the organizations that signed the May 8th letter from 1997 through the mid 2000s, when Exxon’s funding of climate denial voices was called out by Senators, scientists, shareholders and advocates.  The company dropped funding to CEI and others starting in 2006.  Exxon funding to the CEI alone totaled over $2 million. The same year the Cooler Heads Coalition was founded, CEI received a $95,000 dollar grant from Exxon titled “Global Climate Change Program”.

When Exxon scaled back funding under public scrutiny, the Koch brothers picked up the slack, spending more than $14,000,000 on these organizations through 2015, the latest year’s data available.

In addition to Exxon and Koch funding, our analysis shows funders linked to climate denial, including Donors Trust, Donors Capital Fund, the Mercer Family Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Scaife Foundation, State Policy Network and others provided a total of at least $158,000,000 in funding since 1985 to the organizations who signed the anti-Paris Agreement letter to Trump.

The graph below shows the total amount of traceable funding provided to the May 8th letter signatories by Exxon, Mercer Family Foundations, and the Koch brothers between 1997-2015.

Koch and Exxon Dash


For more information on this data, please contact us directly at [email protected]

Posted by Climate Investigations Center