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Weaponizing Economics

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Weaponizing Economics

Big Oil, economic consultants, and climate policy delay

Taylor & Francis Online,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Research shows that economists propped up the fossil fuel industry’s anti-climate change agenda.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


It’s common knowledge that the fossil fuel industry has long employed scientists to bolster its anti-climate change agenda. But less well-known is how economic consultants have also influenced energy policy discussions. In this eye-opening digest of US energy policy from the 1980s through the 2010s, academic Benjamin Franta delves into the role some influential economists have played in diverting attention from the urgency of climate action. Anyone with an interest in climate economics will find valuable information in this astute work.


Economists played a significant role in the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to oppose climate change action.

Fossil fuel interests frequently turned to scientists to help formulate arguments against climate change policy, but they also co-opted economists to play the same role. Some economists’ analyses have been influencing climate policy at the highest levels of US government since the early 1980s. Major national media have publicized conclusions from these reports, while failing to mention that the energy industry had paid for them. 

These misleading ideas quickly became mainstream thinking. But even by the early 1980s, the energy industry – Exxon, at least – already knew the truth: that the planet would suffer severe...

About the Author

Benjamin Franta is a PhD candidate at Stanford University, where he studies the history of fossil fuel producers and climate change politics. He also has a PhD in applied physics and a JD degree.

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    U. D. 1 year ago
    This extract reveals less than it promises calling out only CRA. What about others? It seems to avoid naming economists who were opposed to Kyoto and 3rd world.
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      1 year ago
      Hello, and thank you for your comment.
      Our abstract writers summarize reports into a concise format that is true to the original work and conveys its essential information. In this two-page summary of a report that is more than 20 pages long, they had to choose to include some topics over others. The report author explores the work of CRA in some detail, and so our abstract writer and editors opted to include it in our summary, along with another economist’s direct quotation from the report. We strive to give readers a good idea of a report's essence, and we appreciate your feedback.
      Best regards,
      Gaby Deponte, Managing Editor, Economics/Finance/Politics