Ethical Performance
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Heartland leak exposes US corporations to consumers' ire

April 2012

Leaks have detailed US corporate donors to one of the world's most influential climate change denying bodies. Some of the companies are now under fire from consumers for support that runs counter to their avowed environmental objectives.

During the past two years alone, the Heartland Institute, a libertarian US campaign group, has received more than $1m (£636,000, €764,000) from huge multinationals, including Diageo, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft and Pfizer. The donors intend to give more this year.

The NGO, which describes modern global warming theories as part of a 'liberal political agenda', has not confirmed the list but has apologised to 'donors whose identities were revealed' by the leak. Particular criticism is directed at General Motors and Microsoft, both vocal in supporting climate change solutions.

The computing giant appeared to excuse its $60,000 donation by claiming it could not keep track of its charitable giving. "We had 44,000 non-profits participate in the [software donation] programme last year and we donated $844m," it said. "We believe climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate worldwide action."

General Motors, which gave $30,000 to Heartland, has faced a consumer backlash, including a "10,000 GM Owners Demand the Company Stop Funding the Heartland Institute Immediately" campaign, signed by 20,000 US citizens. General Motors' policy director Greg Martin said: "We support a variety of organisations that give careful and considerate thought to complex policy issues, and Heartland is one of them."

The company has since said it will review its relationship with the organisation. Many of the other companies have said their affiliation with Heartland is now under review.

Heartland Institute | North America | Political donations

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