Climate change deniers in search of their own Al Gore-like figurehead have an unlikely candidate: Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, who is touring the United States this week.
The author of such anti-global-warming treatises as Blue Planet in Green Shackles; What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom, Klaus has given the keynote address at events sponsored by The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Both think tanks vigorously deny the existence of global warming and, according to a new Center report, both were financed by ExxonMobil until 2006. (Klaus himself is no stranger to oil money: Lukoil – the Russian oil giant – paid for the printing of Blue Planet in Russian earlier this year.)
Klaus has used his platform, initially as his country’s first post-communism prime minister and now as its president, to gain attention for his views on climate change. Klaus is a conservative economist, but has not done environmental research himself, “I don’t think he [talks about climate change] for money. He truly believes what he says,” said Vojtech Kotecky, campaign director of Friends of Earth Czech, a Prague-based environmental group.
In his speeches Klaus uses his experience guiding the country away from its communist past as a reference point when talking about the efforts of climate change advocates.
“I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom,” he told the National Press Club in May. “In the past, [this was done] in the name of the Marxist or the proletariat. This time, in the name of the planet….It is very similar.”
Although called an “official state visit,” the Czech president is spending most of his time this week visiting and speaking at think tanks out west. Highlights include a speech Tuesday at the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, Oregon, the annual dinner of the Washington Policy Center in Seattle on Wednesday, and the Goldwater Institute’s 20th anniversary celebration in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday, where he will receive the Barry Goldwater Award for Liberty.
Check out a clip below of Klaus speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York, which was sponsored by The Heartland Institute. And also be sure to check back later this week for our upcoming report on global warming deniers.