In recent months, a new controversial climate activist has surfaced in the media. Richard Wiles has quickly become the go-to commentator for news stories surrounding a series of copycat lawsuits seeking to hold fossil fuel companies liable for the effects of climate change. On the surface, Mr. Wiles appears to be a well-meaning climate expert. But an Energy In Depth investigation reveals his involvement in the larger coordinated scheme to attack energy companies and force the industry to pay for global warming.
Wiles is involved in all aspects of the climate litigation campaign – from running a news outlet dedicated to promoting the lawsuits and coordinating a social media effort to attack the industry, to overseeing the research utilized in many of the lawsuits and pressuring additional cities to bring cases of their own.
Richard Wiles heads Climate Liability News (CLN), a dark-money “news” site set up in 2017 to promote climate lawsuits across the country. Though CLN doesn’t disclose its funders, its founding editor is Lynn Zinser, a transplant from InsideClimate News who worked on the original #ExxonKnew articles, which were paid for by the Rockefeller Family Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The Rockefellers are key players behind both the #ExxonKnew and climate litigation campaigns. Coincidentally, CLN just happens to have a unique page on its website dedicated to advancing this fringe environmentalist effort.
Kert Davies and Alyssa Johl, a former attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), serve alongside Wiles on the CLN board of directors. Davies and members of CIEL attended a secret meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund in January 2016, which sought to “delegitimize” ExxonMobil and portray it as a, “corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm.”
Behind the scenes, Wiles facilitates this “news” site through a 501(c)3 organization called Climate Communications & Law. Established in 2017, the organization has no website and no publicly available financial disclosures to the IRS (form 990s). It appears to serve as a shell organization for other powerful players to funnel undisclosed funds to CLN, which means it serves as a de facto public relations component of #ExxonKnew. CC&L is operated out of Wiles’ own home.
Wiles also directs the Center for Climate Integrity, a project that “supports meritorious climate cases aimed at holding fossil fuel companies and other climate polluters liable for the damages they have caused.” This support includes coordinated social media posts with #ExxonKnew, an initiative by 350.org, and a PR campaign that is pressuring other cities like Houston and Miami to bring lawsuits of their own. These tactics seem to stem directly from the agenda at the aforementioned Rockefeller Family Fund meeting in 2016:
Not only is Wiles leading a PR campaign in support of these lawsuits, he also oversaw the research utilized in many of the cases seeking damages from fossil fuel companies. Wiles is the founder of Climate Central, a Rockefeller-funded organization that researches and reports on the impacts of climate change. Between 2008-2017, Wiles served as the organization’s Sr. Vice President for Strategic Communications and Research, where he supervised numerous studies cited in the lawsuits represented by Sher Edling.
Climate Central has been involved in the conspiracy to delegitimize the fossil fuel industry from the very beginning: Claudia Tebaldi, a climate statistician for Climate Central, attended the now infamous La Jolla conference on behalf of the organization in 2012.
Portrayed by the media as a dispassionate expert, Richard Wiles is a deeply ingrained collaborator in the climate conspiracy against the energy industry. He is facilitating a coordinated PR campaign and running a “news” organization to further these baseless attacks, alongside some of the most well-documented #ExxonKnew conspirators. He even oversaw research conducted after the La Jolla Conference that was later used in the very lawsuits he continues to promote.
Wiles has managed to operate multiple facets of the campaign to undermine the industry, while maintaining a public perception as an outside expert. It’s unclear if Mr. Wiles has any other notable affiliations with the climate litigation campaign, but additional investigation may yet reveal more to this story.