As the Wonk Room has extensively documented, nearly all of the Republican candidates for Senate — both incumbents and challengers — dispute that the United States must take action to fight global warming pollution, while many of them deny that global warming exists in the first place. “There is much debate in the scientific community as to the precise sources of global warming,” claims Pat Toomey, the GOP Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. “Global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,’” says Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
It remains to be seen if that stance will pay off at the polls, but for many of these global warming deniers, it already has paid off in the form of sizeable donations from overseas polluters. A new analysis by Climate Action Network Europe has found that large European companies that are among the continent’s biggest greenhouse gas polluters have been dumping large amounts of money into U.S. Senate races, almost exclusively to candidates that oppose the idea of taking action to stop global warming.
ThinkProgress has already documented how money from foreign oil companies is being directed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is running a $75 million ad campaign against Democratic candidates, and these direct candidate contributions from European polluters exceed the amount that oil billionaires Charles and David Koch have donated to Senate campaigns.
Through U.S. subsidiaries and employees, large European polluters like BP, BASF, Bayer and Solvay have donated $240,200 to candidates who have either voiced opposition to addressing global warming, or who have actively blocked legislation that would do so. For example, Bayer — which emitted 2 million metric tons of CO2 in Europe last year — gave almost 73 percent of its donations to such candidates, like the $5,000 it gave to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to limit global warming pollution. The donations largely favored Republicans, but — demonstrating that stopping progress on addressing global warming was the key goal of these companies — select Democrats were given donations as well. Bayer gave even more money to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who has been a key swing vote in the Senate and also opposes EPA action on global warming pollution.
Many of these companies are involved in the debate over controlling global warming in Europe, and perversely, often cite inaction in the United States as a reason that serious efforts shouldn’t be made in Europe. Most of these companies are members of Business Europe, an influential trade group that recently release a position paper saying the group was “convinced that at this point in time, i.e. in the absence of an international deal securing equally strong action from other economies, any further increase of the EU’s unilateral 20% emission reduction target would be premature and even counterproductive.”
The strategy for these companies is clear: stop progress on global warming in the United States by supporting these candidates, and then blame that inaction when arguing that nothing should be done in the rest of the world to address global warming.