March 19, 2010

CEPOS-Gate: Who in the Danish Government Knew? And When?

After the American Century

When did the Danish Prime Minister know that CEPOS was working to undermine the energy policies of the Obama Administration? When did the current government know about the CEPOS campaign against wind power, with its false accusations and mis-information? When did the Danish government first know that the "think-tank" it is closely associated with was being funded by American energy companies opposed to the adoption of green energy?  Should the current Danish government resign or be forced to hold an election because of this scandal?

On Feb 25 this Blog presented the case that CEPOS was either lying or incompetent in its smear campaign against the Danish windmill industry, launched in the United States. CEPOS intentionally spread false information, of that there is no doubt. But I suspected there was more to the story, and in that column, I asked:
"Why did Cepos take such an interest in attacking wind energy? What is their purpose? Why did they think they should spread misinformation about Denmark in the United States? Who are they really working for? This campaign of falsehoods would please Saudi Arabia, and it would be music in the ears of Fox News. Who is donating money to support Cepos? Any oil companies on the list?"

We now have disturbing answers to these questions, thanks to some good work by Ingenioren. CEPOS was paid to write and distribute the report by American oil and coal companies. Martin Ågerup, the Director of CEPOS has admitted that the money was given to them through the "Institute for Energy Research" a lobby organization funded by the American coal and oil industries.  Strangely, Martin Ågerup claimed that he did not know the Institute for Energy Research was a lobby organization, and thought it was, like CEPOS, a think tank. This confusion suggests that Martin Ågerup is not being entirely honest or that he is incompetent. CEPOS was not merely writing a report. It allowed itself to be used to undermine clean energy proposals before the US Congress, by distributing mis-information.

In short, CEPOS should be recognized as a lobby organization that works against alternative energies and seeks to sabatoge the Obama Administration. CEPOS is not a think tank, it is a gun for hire, perhaps one that is quite willing to work with groups that deny the existence of global warming. No one can any longer believe what they say about policy matters, because they are essentially a public relations arm of American coal and oil companies. 

CEPOS has a serious credibility problem. They are hopelessly compromised. The Danish media should stop calling them a "think tank" and certainly should not use them as responsible, disinterested spokespeople on the news. Rather, the Danish media should demand much more transparency, so that we know precisely who is funding CEPOS.

CEPOS also may have legal problems. A "think tank" presumably does not have the same tax status as a lobby organization. The payments from the Institute for Energy Research clearly are taxable as income for work.performed, indeed, for dirty work. They cannot be regarded as tax-free contributions to a non-profit organization.

The mystery is why this story is not front-page news in Denmark. Politiken gives it only a tiny corner of page 4 of the March 19 issue. Who in the Danish government knew about CEPOS's attacks on the Obama energy program? These attacks began in September 2009, well before the climate summit. Is it really credible that no one in the Danish Ministry of Energy knew anything about this? No one in the Foreign Office?

Well before the climate summit the Danish government almost had to know that CEPOS was working against the success of that very summit. It was doing its best to weaken Obama's position inside the United States, so he would have less to bring to the negotiating table in Copenhagen. With this new information, one must wonder: 

When did the Danish Prime Minister know what CEPOS was doing in the fall of 2009? Did he try in any way to stop the disinformation campaign? Was he really in a position to act as an honest broker at the Climate Summit?