This Mysterious Activist Is Doing A Lot Of The Heavy Lifting For The Climate Lawsuits

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A climate activist who has become a major media commentator in recent years is apparently moonlighting as one of the masterminds behind a series of climate lawsuits directed at ExxonMobil.

Environmentalist Richard Wiles frequently provides commentary on stories discussing aspects of citywide lawsuits targeting ExxonMobil, according to a report Wednesday from Energy in Depth. But his biggest contribution might be to the lawsuits themselves, the report notes.

Wiles heads Climate Liability News (CLN), a news organization created in 2017 to report on various climate lawsuits. One of CLN’s founding editors, Lynn Zinser, worked on a series of articles from InsideClimate News hashing out Exxon’s supposed history of hiding global warming.

LCN’s reports have gotten a lot of help from several billion-dollar philanthropists. Rockefeller Family Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, for instance, are crucial players behind the climate lawsuits and anti-oil investigations. CLN has a page on its website dedicated to anti-Exxon content.

The family uses various funds — including the Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brother Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation — to direct millions of dollars to green energy groups. Most of their efforts are directed toward creating public policy, but they’ve also been at the forefront of the campaign against Exxon, a descendant of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company.

Wiles uses a 501(c)3 organization called Climate Communications & Law to prop up CLN’s finances — the CC&L has no website and no apparent financial disclosures, EID reported. CC&L operates out of Wiles’s house and serves as a shell organization for CLN, the report notes, meaning the news group is a type of public relations firm for activists targeting oil companies.

Wiles is also the founder of Climate Central, another Rockefeller-founded group that researches on how fossil fuel production affects the climate. He served as Climate Central’s senior vice president for Strategic Communications and Research between 2008 and 2017. (RELATED: REPORT: Rockefellers Using ‘Covert’ Climate Crusade Against Exxon To Pad Wallets)

He supervised several of the studies cited by Sher Edling, a law firm handling six lawsuits filed by California cities and counties against oil companies, including Exxon, Chevron and BP. The firm handles these cases in exchange for a percentage of court winnings, called a contingency fee.

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