UPDATE - Since this posted, Heartland has now removed the logo for Fidelity Charitable from their list of event sponsors.
The annual gathering of climate deniers, organized by the Heartland Institute, is due to take place Thursday this week in Washington D.C..
The 13th “International Conference On Climate Change”, named to resonate (or confuse) with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is being held at the Trump International Hotel.
The listed sponsors for the event are predictably small in number, and all themselves promoters of false and misleading information about climate science.
All except one: Fidelity Charitable, listed as a gold level sponsor.
Fidelity Charitable is a giant donor advised fund. It was the first such organization in the U.S. when it opened in 1991. It was founded and is managed by Fidelity Investments. The giant multinational investment firm reports $2.7T in assets under management as of March 2019.
Fidelity would be an incredible if unlikely sponsor for the Heartland Institute.
Unfortunately for Heartland, Fidelity Charitable isn’t sponsoring the event, not according to the company itself. Reached for comment by email, a media spokesperson for Fidelity Charitable: “I want to confirm that we are not a sponsor of this event.”
Contrast the sponsors of the Heartland Institute event - minus Fidelity Charitable - with that of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), another organization that promotes climate change denial. CEI held its annual fundraising gala in D.C. on June 20, 2019. Its sponsors included big firms like Google, Amazon, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Uber.
In past years Heartland had received substantial funding from ExxonMobil. It received a total of $676,500 between 1998 and 2006 according to Exxon Secrets, a project of Greenpeace. But that funding eventually dried up as Exxon moved to distance itself from many climate denial organizations.
The Heartland Institute is probably best known for its failed billboard campaign in 2012, in which it compared climate scientists to terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and the Unabomber. That campaign proved to be disastrous, as corporate funders publicly announced they would no longer back the group. According to the Guardian, “about two dozen insurance companies, including US giant State Farm, announced an end to support for Heartland because of the billboard.”
One consistent funding source for Heartland has been the Mercer family, which has donated millions to climate denial groups including Heartland. According to the Andrew Perez of Maplight, the Mercer Family Foundation have given Heartland $6.7 million since 2008. The Mercers were also major financial backers of the Donald Trump campaign in 2016.
Heartland events in recent years have been sparsely attended, low on sponsors and exhibitors.
Tickets for this week’s event are not sold out.
Photo of Trump Hotel during DC Climate March 2017. Taken by Mark Dixon. Used under Creative Commons license.