Around the globe, a large number of neoliberal and paleoliberal, frequently social conservative think tanks belong to the self-described (economic) freedom movement of the Atlas network. The network was founded in 1981 by (Sir) Anthony Fisher to expand and – to some extent – coordinate neoliberal think tanks under the roof of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia (USA). Following the global financial crisis, the network expanded from about 120 think tanks to about 500 organisations (see Djelic und Mousavi 2020 for a historical overview and geographical distribution). The network includes the hard core of climate change denial organisations like the Heartland Institute, but also features many organisations that did not and do not engage in climate denial, yet advocate a range of other reasons to oppose ambitious climate action. The talk will provide an overview and attempt to explain the variety of business-civil society advocacy coalitions in opposition to (global) climate policy with reference to transnational civil society and class formation theory. The close empirical study of activities of the network allows the observation of strategic campaigns developed to prevent climate policy mobility, and thus also attempts to give due consideration to global policy contestations that have not been frequently tackled so far in the policy transfer and diffusion literature.
Djelic, Marie-Laure and Reza Mousavi (2020). 'How the Neoliberal Think Tank Went Global: The Atlas Network, 1981 to the Present' in: Nine Lives of Neoliberalism, ed. Dieter Plehwe, Quinn Slobodian and Philip Mirowski (London: Verso, 2020), 257-282.
Dieter Plehwe is a senior fellow at the Berlin Social Science Center and Privatdozent at University of Kassel in Political Science. He has co-edited several volumes on the history, theory and politics of organised neoliberalism including 'Road from Mont Pèlerin' (Harvard University Press 2009), 'Nine Lives of Neoliberalism' (Verso 2020) and 'Market Civilizations. Neoliberals East and South' (Zone Books 2022). He has founded the repository and blog Think Tank Networks and currently co-directs the Global Survey Group of the Climate Social Science Network.