International Policy Network

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The International Policy Network (IPN) is a corporate-funded campaigning group [1] based in the UK set up in 2001. It originally had offices around the world in the USA, Chile [2] and India [3]. By 2003 all of the offices had closed down apart from the London one. (It is based in an office in Bedford Chambers in King Street, Covent Garden, London.)[1]

You can find a statement of the guiding principles of the IPN in their own words at [4].

The IPN is connected with the White House Writers Group, a for-profit corporate lobbying company (the senior director[5] at the White House Writers Group is also a trustee of the IPN).

The great majority of the IPN's income from donations is from corporations: in both 2003 and 2004 the proportion was about 85%.[6].

The UK branch disbanded in June 2011, with former chairman Linda Whetstone leaving the group.[7]

Origins

In 2001 the name was changed to the IPN and it expanded its operations with significant corporate funding. Its international Directors then were Roger Bate and Julian Morris, two people who have spear-headed the pro-corporate, anti-environmental debate for over a decade in the UK, whilst supporting controversial industries. Bate co-founded the European Science and Environment Forum in 1994, which arose from the concept for a pro-biotech / tobacco, chemical industry front group in Europe funded by Philip Morris. He also solicited money of the tobacco industry for a book on risk and smoking, and Julian Morris was a witness for the GM industry Life Sciences Network at the GM Commission in New Zealand. Some unknown industry / industries are now funding ESEF / IPN to counter the environmental movement on a global scale.

It also funds and has set up the websites of certain "partner "organisations which have all the appearances of being African or Asian NGOs, but seem little more than satellite front organisations whose true identity is also hidden. In 2004 it received funding from Exxon to work on climate and a book was published by the IPN edited by Kendra Okonski. Okonski and Julian Morris still deny climate change and the need for any action. Writing last month Morris wrote "There are no solid grounds for assuming, as Messrs Blair and Howard do, that global warming demands immediate and far-reaching action".

Okonski is a long-time libertarian activist and daughter of a US lumber industrialist. Okonski has a history of counter-protests against progressive and environmental organisations. She organised the pro-farmers counter-protests at the WSSD. She also co-founded and managed the website counterprotest.net and organised the Washington-area 'Walk for Capitalism' in 2001. Okonski still remains the contact for the "Sustainable Development Network", another guise of the IPN. Okonski also has set up a number of websites of IPN's affiliates organisations that raises questions about their true independence. What you have here is a first world corporate front organisation setting up websites for so-called third world organisations, who then attack western environmentalists for being Imperialists. These include

Issues

The IPN lists its areas of interest as:

  • Sustainable Development & the Environment
  • Health
  • Free Trade and Globalisation
  • Technology
  • Economics

The IPN is currently running a technology campaign, apparently to promote the use of software patents in Europe. [8]

It has also become involved in international pharmaceutical issues, seeking to defend the pharmaceutical industry from claims that it ignores the diseases of the developing world in favour of the more profitable lifestyle diseases of wealthy countries. Most of this work is conducted by its front group the Campaign for Fighting Diseases.

IPN is promoting privatization of water systems in third world countries, recently presenting their work at an American Enterprise Institute symposium on "Water Scarcity" in Washington DC on 3/22/06 broadcast on CSPAN. [9]

The IPN on Climate Change

In 2001, the IPN held a seminar on "Global warming - a European myth" [10] by Philip Stott who says that global warming is a "lie" [11].

IPN's executive director, Julian Morris, told the BBC:

"There are basically 3 groups that benefit from the global warming myth: government, scientists and environmentalists. Environmentalists benefit because they are able to present a scary scenario to the general public, and because of their desire to maintain revenues scary scenarios are good business for them, it means the general public are more likely to give them money." [12]

Journalist Mark Lynas says:

The policy network's "partners" around the world include Tech Central Station (funded by ExxonMobil, General Motors and McDonald's) and the Cambridge-based European Science and Environment Forum, an anti-environmentalist group originally set up for the Philip Morris tobacco company by a PR firm. Julian Morris often accuses environmentalists of inventing the global warming "myth" in order to generate cash." [13]

In November 2004, the IPN published a report claiming that climate change modellers were exaggerating the potential dangers of climate change:

"Climate modellers differ from aircraft engineers in another way: whereas most aircraft engineers are employed by the private sector and are rewarded according to the usefulness of their designs to the travelling public, climate modellers are funded primarily by governments, and are rewarded according to the extent to which their models are useful to politicians and their entourage. Since politicians seem more willing to fund research when the outcome might give them an excuse to impose regulations and/or taxes, we cannot be surprised that the modellers have responded to these incentives by generating models that exaggerate the impact of humanity’s impact on the climate."[14]

Around the same time, The Observer reported that:

"Last week, the network's director Julian Morris attacked Britain's highly respected chief scientist. 'David King is an embarrassment to himself and an embarrassment to his country.' He criticised preparations by Tony Blair to use his presidency of the world's most powerful nations next year to lead attempts in tackling climate change. Morris described Blair's plans to use his G8 tenure to halt global warming as 'offensive'." [15]

The same Observer article noted that IPN had received $50,000 from ExxonMobil, which "list[ed] the donation as part of its 'climate change outreach' programme." [16] ExxonMobil also gave $115,000 to the IPN in 2004. [17]

The director of the IPN was attacked in the House of Commons for the fact that its view on climate change happens to concur with that of one of its major funders. Norman Baker MP said: "We may be able to deduce from the comments of Julian Morris that there is an ulterior motive behind his denial of climate change." [18].

How the IPN describes itself

The IPN describes itself on its web site at [19]

The IPN has been criticised for calling itself a thinktank. According to George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, the BBC should:

"stop describing [IPN and similar] as "thinktanks". This is unfair and partial. When, for example, someone from Friends of the Earth - which is rightly described as a "campaigning organisation" or a "pressure group" - is up against someone from the International Policy Network, which is described as a "thinktank" or an "educational charity", the person from the IPN looks like the more objective commentator, even though he is the one with a direct financial interest in the outcome of the discussion (IPN, for example, which argues that we should not seek to reduce our carbon emissions, has received $295,000 from Exxon). I think a better description would be "lobby group" or "corporate-funded campaigning group"." [20]

Failure of the the IPN

The IPN has been criticised for taking money from corporations and then producing counterproductive work:

"IPN gets almost no positive press coverage, most politicians have never heard of it, and no one takes it seriously. The only coverage it gets attacks it for being unethical. Journalists see through its “research”, dropping IPN’s press releases in the wastebasket for recycling because they are so transparently corporate propaganda." [21]

Links to other organisations

As well as supporting a variety of think-tanks, the IPN has particularly close links with the following groups:

Historically, the IPN can be seen as a UK-based version of the Atlas Foundation. It was founded by Antony Fisher in the UK as the International Institute for Economic Research (IIER) in 1971.

Fisher went on to found the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the USA in 1981, and from this point the IIER traded as Atlas Foundation UK. The organisation underwent a further rebranding in 2001, when its income increased 60-fold and it changed its working name to IPN (it is still officially registered as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (UK)). In the USA, the Atlas Foundation also provides training and funding to start libertarian think-tanks. Fisher also went on to found the influential Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a classical liberal think tank based in London.

The director of the IPN is Julian Morris, who once worked for Roger Bate at the IEA. Bate is also a fellow at the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a leading anti-environmental think tank, where another staff member, Kendra Okonski also used to work. Indeed, the addresses and switchboard number for the CEI and the US office of the IPN used to be identical. [22] IPN later moved down the hall to Suite 1032 and acquired its own phone and fax numbers. ce 2005]

The IPN is also linked, via its staff and web hosting arrangements, to the Sustainable Development Network. This is a coalition formed in 2001, just in time for the world summit on sustainable development, to back the pro-industry agenda. The coalition includes the US-based AgBio World Foundation, run by C.S. Prakash.

Funding

The site ExxonSecrets.org reports the following corporate donations to IPN:


2003
$50,000 ExxonMobil Foundation Climate Change Outreach Source: ExxonMobil 2003 Worldwide Giving Report[2]

2004
$115,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Climate Change
Source: ExxonMobil 2004 Worldwide Giving Report[3]

2005
$130,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Source: ExxonMobil 2005 Worldwide Giving Report[4]

2006
$95,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Source: ExxonMobil 2006 Worldwide Giving Report [5]

Staff

(Listed on website)

Trustees

Previous Staff

(prior to 2001 re-branding)

Members

SourceWatch Resources

External links

IPN publications

Note: The International Policy Network has disputed the accuracy and fairness of a previous version of this article: its rebuttal can be found here (78KB PDF).

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References

  1. International Policy Network website, undated, accessed March 2006.
  2. ExxonMobil Worldwide Giving Report (pdf) Public Information and Policy Research, 2003, at page 43
  3. ExxonMobil Exxon Mobil Corporation 2004 Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments Public Information and Policy Research, (pdf) at Page 5
  4. ExxonMobil Public Information and Policy Research: 2005 Worldwide Giving Report, (pdf) at Page 3
  5. ExxonMobil Exxon Mobil Corporation 2006 Contributions and Community Investments"!, at Page 4