Climate Disinformation

ISD identifies, monitors and analyses online information operations targeting the climate policy agenda.

For nearly fifteen years, ISD has been at the forefront of analysing and trialling innovative solutions to the rising tide of extremism, hate, populism and polarisation. ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit has developed advanced tools and methodologies to monitor and expose the dark influence operations of a range of state and non-state actors seeking to sow division and undermine democratic processes. 

Our research has shown how the forces of disinformation and division are organising and aligning in an unprecedented manner around the world. We are seeing intensive international coordination in order to mainstream extreme positions and undermine, distort and co-opt public opinion.

Most global efforts to research and tackle disinformation at scale tend to focus on safeguarding elections from foreign state interference. Yet we know that efforts to address some of the most pressing transnational challenges of our time – climate change, migration, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health – have come under consistent attack by bad actors. These threats encompass government-sponsored entities, organised hate and extremist groups and corporate lobbies, in an attempt to influence both public opinion and shape policy agendas at the domestic or multilateral level. If left unchecked, manipulation of the information space poses a systemic threat to democratic dialogue and may well derail the action so urgently needed in these issue areas.

To combat malign influence campaigns, disinformation and broader anti-climate efforts, the sector requires in-depth and ongoing data from the digital space, which to date has been sorely lacking.  In collaboration with our technology partners CASM, LSE Arena, and a range of climate partners including the European Climate Foundation, Greenpeace UnEarthed and DeSmog, ISD is developing cutting-edge tools tailored to audiences across the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, the UK and the United States.

The objective of this work is to:

  • Build a system for data collection and analysis which can support key stakeholders in their advocacy, public education, policymaking and strategic communications around climate
  • Provide live trend analysis on anti-climate narratives and influencer networks, particularly in the run-up to key events (e.g. COP26, national elections)
  • Develop and drive execution of strategies to expose, disrupt and mitigate coordinated influence campaigns around climate.

Latest Climate Disinformation posts from Digital Dispatches:

In Hungary, government-affiliated media is critical in shaping public opinion. This dispatch looks at how national and local government-affiliated media outlets on Facebook have portrayed the issue of climate change over the past two years.
In Poland, climate change is largely absent from the online discussion around coal mining and the energy sector, which is instead dominated by economic and security arguments in favour of, and in opposition to, the coal industry. This dispatch highlights the key trends in such discussion, as well as the types of messaging different actors employ.
The far right has stoked up fear of immigration, elites, and multiculturalism. Now, extremists are turning their attention online to the alleged threat of the green agenda – with an eye to discrediting COP-26.

ISD’s Climate Disinformation team

Sasha Havlicek
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Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

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Sasha Havlicek
Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

Sasha Havlicek is Co-Founder and CEO of ISD, having spearheaded ISD’s pioneering research and data analysis, digital education, policy advisory, training, tech and communications programmes. With a background in conflict resolution and an expertise in extremism, digital information operations and electoral interference, she has advised a range of governments at the highest levels and has spearheaded partnerships with the UN, EU Commission and Global Counter-Terrorism Forum. She has also worked with the private and civil society sectors to promote innovation, including developing major programmes run in partnership with Google, FB and Microsoft. Sasha serves as an expert advisor to the UK Counter-Extremism Commission and the Mayor of London’s counter-extremism programme, and is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Sasha previously served as Senior Director at the EastWest Institute where she led conflict resolution programming. Sasha has testified before US Congress, the UK Parliament and is a regular commentator in the media (CNN, BBC, Channel 4 News and other networks).
Jennie King
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Jennie King

Head of Civic Action and Education

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Jennie King
Jennie King

Head of Civic Action and Education

Jennie King is Head of Civic Action and Education, leading efforts to translate ISD's digital research into frontline programming and response. She co-authored the current 'Be Internet Citizens' curriculum, formally accredited for UK schools, and provides regular briefings for UK government departments and regulators, UNESCO and parallel European/US bodies on systemic approaches to media literacy. Jennie also oversees ISD's growing portfolio on Climate Mis- and Disinformation, supporting a coalition of 30+ organisations worldwide to identify, analyse and counter related harms. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News, Tortoise Media and NPR, amongst others. Jennie previously served as MENA Regional Director Arts, Assistant Country Director Egypt and Country Director Hungary for the British Council, the UK’s international body for cultural relations. She read Arabic and Spanish at Pembroke College, Cambridge, receiving a Foundation Scholarship and the Marie Shamma’a Frost Prize for Oriental Studies.
Jasmine El-Gamal
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Jasmine El-Gamal

Senior Manager, AMEA

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Jasmine El-Gamal
Jasmine El-Gamal

Senior Manager, AMEA

Jasmine is a Senior Manager for Africa, Middle East and Asia (AMEA) at ISD, where she is responsible for overseeing prevention of violent extremism (PVE) research and programming. From 2015-2020, Jasmine was a Senior Fellow with the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council, where she focused primarily on U.S. policies in the Middle East. From 2013-2015, Jasmine served as a Special Assistant to three consecutive Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, where she advised on national security issues. From 2008-2013, Jasmine served as a Middle East advisor at the Pentagon, where she served three Secretaries of Defense. During her tenure, she prepared and staffed the Secretary of Defense on foreign trips and during Congressional briefings. She covered issues related to Iraq, Syria, the Arab Spring and ISIS, among others, and served as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy. From 2014-2016, Jasmine served as a translator and cultural advisor to the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants (OARDEC) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she provided briefings on Islam and Arab culture to incoming military officers in advance of their participation on the Review Boards. She conducted over 100 detainee interviews during her time at GTMO regarding their background and journey to Afghanistan and ensured the integrity of their testimony during their review boards, many of which resulted in the illumination of their unjust detention. In 2003, Jasmine served as a translator with a U.S. Civil Affairs team responsible for reconstruction in Southern Iraq, helping to facilitate communication and cooperation between U.S. forces and the local population in rebuilding the area. Her commentary has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time Magazine, CNN, Al Jazeera, Al Hurra, L’Orient du Jour, Sawt al Azhar, Al Masry Al Youm and other international outlets.
Łukasz Janulewicz
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Łukasz Janulewicz

Analyst

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Łukasz Janulewicz
Łukasz Janulewicz

Analyst

Łukasz Janulewicz is an Analyst at ISD, focusing on climate disinformation in Poland and Germany. He previously worked at the Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM) in Warsaw, the Central European University in Budapest and the Bavarian State Parliament in Munich. Łukasz graduated in Political Science from the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich and holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent. At ISD, he has co-authored the research report: “Kalter Wind von Rechts: Wie rechte Parteien und Akteur:innen die Klimakrise zu ihren Gunsten missbrauchen Eine Analyse über falsche Fakten, Feindbilder und Desinformationsnarrative im Umfeld der Bundestagswahl 2021.”
Paula Matlach
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Paula Matlach

Analyst

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Paula Matlach
Paula Matlach

Analyst

Paula Matlach is an Analyst at ISD. She studies the spread of disinformation and propaganda in German and English-speaking countries. Prior to her work at ISD, she worked as a researcher at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, where she published articles on network regulation and foreign influence, among other topics. At ISD, she has co-authored the research report „Fluchtwege. Wie das Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz auf etablierten sozialen Medien durch die Verlinkung zu alternativen Plattformen umgangen wird“. 
Christian Schwieter
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Christian Schwieter

Project Manager, Policy and Research, ISD Germany

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Christian Schwieter
Christian Schwieter

Project Manager, Policy and Research, ISD Germany

Christian Schwieter is a Project Manager at ISD Germany, leading the German-language research project on far-right activity on alternative and emerging online platforms. At ISD, Christian also co-led the pilot phase of the Digital Policy Lab, a new intergovernmental working group focused on charting the online policy path forward to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech and extremism. Previously, Christian worked as a researcher for the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, where he co-authored reports on state-backed information operations relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Christian was the Specialist Adviser on Disinformation Matters for the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee at the House of Commons. Christian holds an MSc in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford and a BA from Leiden University College The Hague.
Cécile Simmons
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Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

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Cécile Simmons
Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

Cécile Simmons is a Research Manager at ISD, specialising in malign influence operations targeting elections, public health and climate disinformation, far-right extremism and conspiracy theories. Her research includes social media network mapping, data analysis and ethnographic monitoring of closed online spaces. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Wired, among others. She previously worked in publishing and journalism, and holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics.