General Motors has pulled its funding of the Heartland Institute, after an aggressive campaign targeted the company’s financial contributions.
Forecast the Facts, an advocacy group focused on increasing awareness of climate change, targeted GM after leaked documents revealed the Heartland Institute’s strategy to promote global warming denial in schools. The documents also disclosed the companies that fund the organization. Forecast the Facts collected more than 20,000 signatures — 10,000 of them from GM car owners — calling on the automaker to pull its funding.
Earlier in March, GM’s CEO Dan Akerson sat down for an interview at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco with Climate One founder Greg Dalton. Asked about GM’s Heritage funding, Akerson said he would look into it upon returning to Detroit.
Watch a clip of Akerson’s interview:
“We know that we’re not going to be able to stop Heartland from being Heartland. What we can do is make sure whoever is associated with them pays a price for that,” said Daniel Souweine, director of the Forecast the Facts campaign. The campaign also flooded GM’s Facebook page after the interview to ask about the status of its funding. GM contributed $15,000 in 2009 and $15,000 in 2010. Dalton penned a blog post on Wednesday that announced GM’s funding decision.
“We followed up with Climate One last week on our discontinuing funding of Heartland, and we’ve communicated that outcome to Heartland directly,” GM’s Executive Director of Global Communications Greg Martin told TPM in an email Friday. ”As Dan Akerson said at his Commonwealth Club appearance, we’ll continue to run our business as if climate change is real and believe we have a role to play in developing new cars, trucks and technologies that can make a difference.”
Forecast the Facts celebrated the company’s decision, saying that it’s a small, but important, step. “GM’s decision sends an important message,” Souweine told TPM. “While this one act on its own won’t shift the debate on climate change, the more that institutions like GM take this stand and say climate change is real and climate change denial is not OK, the more we push that outside the frame of what’s a reasonable position to take.”
Heartland confirmed GM’s decision on Friday, saying in a statement that the organization “regrets” the loss of their support.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com