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    HomeMilitaryPhantom Funding: The Stealth War Over Energy Policy and Climate Truths

    Phantom Funding: The Stealth War Over Energy Policy and Climate Truths

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    Oil pumps on sunset
    Oil pumps on sunset

    With the global conversation surrounding energy policy and climate change growing ever more urgent, it seems that everyone—from politicians to Ph.D. students—is weighing in on the matter.

    Fossil fuel power plant in operation, aerial view
    Fossil fuel power plant in operation, aerial view

    At the heart of the debate is a confrontation between the behemoths of the fossil fuel industry and the burgeoning renewable energy sector, with revelations emerging that dark money and misinformation are fueling a stealth war over the future of energy.

    Energy Sources
    Energy Sources

    On one side of the battlefield, the dirty energy sector, often seen as the proverbial ‘Goliath,’ is wielding its financial might to cast doubt on the science of climate change and influence political campaigns.

    As a Ph.D. student using the TikTok platform to debunk financial myths about clean energy points out, the profits of companies like Shell tower over the U.S. climate research budget, highlighting the disparity in financial resources between the two camps.

    In the first quarter of 2024 alone, Shell announced profits of $7.7 billion, while the climate research budget in the United States amounts to roughly $10-15 billion.

    heat and drought in a desert landscape, dry weather conditions
    heat and drought in a desert landscape, dry weather conditions

    As per a White House fact sheet, a total of $4.5 billion was allocated for climate research to agencies like NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation in the previous year.

    clouds in the blue sky, a big white cloud formation
    clouds in the blue sky, a big white cloud formation

    Additionally, approximately $9.5 billion was earmarked for climate finance initiatives.

    cloud formation in the sky, a weather phenomenon in meteorology
    cloud formation in the sky, a weather phenomenon in meteorology

    Rosh points out that this amount is “one-fifth” of the $68.9 billion designated for highway maintenance within the budget.

    Coal fired power plants, Hanau, Germany
    Coal fired power plants, Hanau, Germany

    This financial clout enables the fossil fuel industry to engage in extensive lobbying and political contributions, a practice often shrouded in secrecy.

    Lignite excavator in the Hambach opencast mine May 2021
    Lignite excavator in the Hambach opencast mine May 2021

    “You’ll quickly find that the fossil fuel industry spends millions of dollars directly influencing politicians and lobbying against climate action,” the student, Rosh, says in his TikTok video.

    Such influence is not only limited to lobbying; it also extends to the dissemination of misinformation.

    Renewable energy advocates face an uphill battle, not only against the financial influence of their opponents but also against a tide of misinformation.

    In a video on TikTok, Rosh addresses a claim made by an anti-environmental Canadian politician suggesting that renewables inherently depend on fossil fuels.

    Antique Light Bulbs
    Antique Light Bulbs

    He counters this by equating it to saying the lightbulb could never replace the candle because lightbulbs need candlelight for their production—a clearly flawed argument.

    Over 20% of the energy generated in the U.S. in 2023 came from renewables, with that number reaching around 35% globally, pointing to the undeniable growth and potential of the sector.

    Relevant articles:
    Ph.D. student debunks common financial myth about clean energy: ‘Millions of dollars directly influencing politicians’, The Cool Down
    Ph.D. student debunks common misinformation about renewable energy transition: ‘So many people don’t understand’, The Cool Down
    Unmasking Dark Money: How Fossil Fuel Interests Can Undermine Clean Energy Progress, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

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