DOCUMENTS from an organisation known to promote climate change scepticism have emerged which reveal it has high-profile backers, including Microsoft and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The leaked fundraising and strategy documents for the Heartland Institute, which have not been confirmed to be authentic, show that one anonymous individual donated $8.6 million (£5.5m) in the past four years.
They also spell out plans to roll out a programme of infiltrating school curriculums in the United States to spread doubt among teachers about the “alarmist” science behind climate change.
Among dozens more donors identified in the documents are Koch oil billionaires, PepsiCo, Pfizer, General Motors Foundation and RJR Tobacco.
Climate scientists in Britain said the documents reveal for the first time the sources and scale of funding for one of the most active US lobby groups that promotes the undermining of established climate change science.
Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London, said: “Assuming that the leaked documents are genuine, the most chilling revelation is the campaign to brainwash American children by commissioning an alternative curriculum aiming to undermine climate science.
“This strikes at the very roots of truth and freedom in a democratic society, something I would have felt the American people would find abhorrent.”
The documents spell out that the foundation will spend $100,000 spreading the message in schools that “shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science”.
The documents were revealed by DeSmogBlog, a blog that describes itself as focusing on “fact-based information regarding global warming misinformation campaigns”. It said it had received the confidential documents from an “insider” at the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago.
The institute, founded in 1984, has built a reputation for providing a forum for climate change sceptics and hosting conferences of climate science doubters in New York and Washington.
Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said: “Set out here in calm tones we have plans to spend millions of dollars spreading lies and creating the false impression of doubt to children, politicians and the media.”
The “2012 Fundraising Plan”, marked as “Confidential. Please Do Not Circulate”, spells out that the organisation plans to raise $7.7m in 2012, approximately 70 per cent more than 2011.
In a table, the US Chamber of Commerce is down for a $25,000 donation in 2010, Microsoft Foundation for $59,908 in 2011, while dozens of other businesses and individuals donated between $10,000 and $330,000.
Dave Reay, a senior lecturer in carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The suggested involvement of Microsoft as a funder is especially shocking given the excellent work the Gates Foundation currently does in addressing the impacts of climate change in the developing world.”
The Heartland Institute was not available to comment last night.