As 2023 comes to an end, we reflect on the victories and challenges in the ongoing fight for climate progress. Many of us experienced, firsthand, the increasing extreme weather events caused by our warming climate; meanwhile, meaningful climate progress has been slow.
Here at CSLDF, we assisted a record-breaking 54 researchers this year – more per year than we’ve ever helped, and a 26% increase over 2022 (our previous record). More clients than ever came to us seeking help with defamation suits or threats of such suits, thanks largely to the spread of disinformation by fossil fuel-funded bad actors. We also saw a greater risk of attacks and harassment in specific areas of climate research, including policy solutions, greenwashing and misinformation, and the connections between human activity and climate change.
We also had many accomplishments that give us hope in the face of such challenges, including: successfully defending a methane scientist subpoenaed by an oil and gas company seeking to discredit her research, helping a climate researcher expose corporate greenwashing, and advising scientists on how to safely and effectively engage in climate activism.
Other researchers we helped include:
- Scientists concerned about defamation risks from a paper on climate misinformation
- An ecologist sued for defamation by a pesticide company
- A climate blogger facing a lawsuit by a climate denier
- An environmental studies professor facing an invasive open records demand for a grant proposal
- A state university professor facing censorship attempts over his climate policy research
These cases covered a wide variety of topics, as shown in the chart below:
This year, we also published op-eds on the risks facing climate researchers and submitted public comments on federal scientific integrity policies. We added several new and updated resources to our library of free educational materials, including the fourth edition of our report on open records laws in all 50 states and our latest pocket guide for scientists, Creating an LLC and Other Legal Strategies for Consulting or Expert Witness Work, for those interested in engaging in scientific consulting.
In addition,we unveiled our new Climate Litigation Toolkit, another tool in the ongoing fight for climate progress. This toolkit includes our new pocket guide on scientific consulting, as well as guides to serving as an expert witness in climate litigation cases, our guide to participating in rulemaking at state and federal agencies, and other resources that may be helpful to researchers who wish to push back against anti-science efforts. It is critical that scientific voices be part of the conversation not only in the growing number of climate litigation cases but also in the upcoming election cycle, and that researchers know how to participate safely and effectively.
In preparation for the upcoming U.S. election season, we also educated hundreds of researchers at the annual conferences of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) on how they can safely engage in political advocacy and activism. Panels included Best Practices for Scientific Advocacy, Understanding the Legal Risks of Advocacy and Activism, and Getting Involved in the 2024 U.S. Election. CSLDF attorneys were also available for confidential meetings with anyone who had legal questions related to their work, meeting with nearly two dozen researchers at the AGU conference.
We are able to accomplish all of this and more thanks to you, our fervent supporters in this ongoing fight against fossil fuel companies with very deep pockets. Please, if you can, consider making an end-of-year donation to help us prepare for 2024. Your support makes it possible for us to arm climate researchers with the tools and knowledge they need to engage in the political process, at a time when anti-science forces are hard at work trying to silence them.