Turning Point USA
Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

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What you need to know about the climate deniers speaking at Turning Point Action's annual convention and their affiliated groups

In addition to the marquee names, the conference’s lineup of right-wing speakers includes a smattering of lesser-known but influential figures

Right-wing youth organization Turning Point USA's political advocacy arm Turning Point Action is hosting a convention this weekend in Detroit, which will feature an array of seasoned climate deniers and conspiracy theorists as speakers.

The People’s Convention will run from June 14 to June 16.

For his part, TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk has repeatedly claimed that climate change is a hoax and spread false claims about extreme weather and climate change initiatives. He has said that “climate change [as a] political issue” is “the biggest threat to our civilization” and pushed the Great Reset conspiracy theory to his TPUSA audience. Kirk recently lashed out at another conservative organization, the Young America’s Foundation, for taking issue with the GOP's non-existent climate platform.

The headliner at this weekend’s event is former President Donald Trump, who (in addition to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and rolling back nearly 100 other environmental protection policies during his term) has repeatedly minimized or denied the threat of climate change, most recently saying that sea level rise would be a good thing because it would create more beachfront property. He has also gone after renewable energy, claiming at one rally last September that “windmills are causing whales to die” and “driving them crazy.”

Other speakers at The People’s Convention — such as Candace Owens, Jack Posobiec, and Benny Johnson — have also spread climate denial or made misleading claims about climate change and the policies attempting to address it.

But the conference has some lesser-known speakers — including those who head major right-wing institutions — who have also promoted some outlandish claims about climate change and climate policy.

  • Aubrey Shines

    • Aubrey Shines, a Florida-based minister, falsely claimed in a video posted to his Facebook page that the Democratic National Committee is promoting “climate control,” saying, “They’re going to have to go into third-world countries and make sure abortions are happening on a regular basis.” Shines wrote that the “DNC’s oxymoron agenda all in the name of climate control” is “targeting Blacks in America and Africa.” The rant was in response to comments from then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In reality, Sanders had replied to a question about climate change and “curb[ing] population growth” by expressing his support for reproductive freedom for women who don’t have it. [Facebook, 9/12/19; The Washington Post, 9/5/19]
    • In a 2015 interview with right-wing radio host Steve Gruber, Shines said incorrectly that the science that establishes man-made climate change “just isn’t there.” He then claimed that “you have a very diverse scientific community that don’t even adhere to and subscribe to this alleged global warming piece.” [WJIM, The Steve Gruber Show, 8/27/15]
    • Shines also has a show on the far-right network Real America’s Voice, and in March, he joined TPUSA as a member of its advisory council. The announcement that Shines would join the council also praised his show, America Shines, which includes episodes such as “Homosexuals tried to create a fraudulent gay holocaust.” [Turning Point USA, 3/14/24; Real America’s Voice, America Shines, 6/14/24]
  • Rebecca Weber

    • Rebecca Weber, the CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens, a right-wing member advocacy group, has attacked climate policy. In a February episode of her podcast, Better for America, titled “The Climate Cartel Running the White House”, Weber spins efforts to update energy efficiency standards for some household appliances as Biden’s “war on your home appliances.” She interviews Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) who also falsely claims that the Biden administration “went after” chocolate milk and hot showers. [AMAC, Better for America, 2/7/24]
    • Weber has repeated the debunked claim that the country is no longer energy independent. Speaking with the president of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Weber said her members “recognize that under Donald Trump, that America was energy independent, and it was looking good. … It makes no sense that we have a president today who does not want to really get us back to where we — or improve things.” In 2023, the U.S. produced more crude oil than ever. [AMAC, Better for America, 2/28/24; Media Matters, 3/7/24]
    • AMAC regularly pushes climate change denial on its website. One article claims that “experts say ‘climate change’ is a hoax.” Another amplifies a letter from a group of climate deniers claiming that the “assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuel and requires immediate action” is “unsupported.” The website has also featured an article from Fox contributor Tammy Bruce, who wrote that “Democrats are feverishly whipping up hysteria about global warming in an effort to induce a national panic attack and frighten us into surrendering more of our freedoms” while the world was being plagued by extreme heat during the summer of 2023. [AMAC, 8/18/23, 12/29/23, 7/28/23; Media Matters, 8/7/23]
  • Thomas Klingenstein

    • Thomas Klingenstein, the Claremont Institute's chairman and a Republican mega-donor, is a major contributor to Club for Growth Action, a right-wing super PAC that has “dabbled in climate denial,” according to The Guardian. Club for Growth has opposed even the most meager climate policy, such as the package that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy put forward in 2020 that included the expansion of a tax credit for carbon capture and storage technologies and the initiation of a global effort to plant 1 trillion trees. Club for Growth was founded by Stephen Moore, a former Trump adviser who publicly pushes climate skepticism and energy misinformation and co-wrote the treasury chapter of Project 2025’s Mandate for Leadership. [The Guardian, 8/4/23; Politico News 2/13/20; Media Matters, 2/27/24, 9/15/23; Forbes, 3/11/15; DeSmog, accessed 6/14/24; Project 2025, Mandate for Leadership, 2023]
    • The Claremont Institute, a California-based think tank, received funding from the Scaife and Bradley foundations, which also fund many other climate denial think tanks. Climate scientist Michael Mann told Observer that Claremont “is a number of these lofty sounding institutions that is essentially a front group for the Koch groups and the Scaife foundations.” [Observer, 2/8/19; E&E News, 6/26/20; Rolling Stone, 1/12/22]
    • Claremont fellows include climate deniers who have launched bad-faith attacks against climate policy, as well as scientists and activists. Claremont Institute senior fellow Jeremy Carl “accused the environmental movement of a ‘religious fervor’ and said the decision ‘to halt and reverse global warming’ must ‘be considered apart from the research of environmental scientists,’” according to Observer. Former fellow Raheem Kassam is also the former editor-in-chief of Breitbart London and was an adviser to right-wing U.K. politician and climate denier Nigel Farage. Claremont senior fellow Christopher Caldwell complained at length about climate activism delegitimizing climate science and insisted that scientists could not be political activists. “The authority of science wanes in equal measure as the political engagement of the individual scientist deepens,” he wrote. Another Claremont fellow, Joel Kotkin, referenced the idea of climate policies causing a “green Jim Crow.” (In reality, pollution and extreme weather often disproportionately impact communities of color as a result of systemic racism and the legacy of Jim Crow.) [The Atlantic, 6/5/17; Observer, 2/8/19; DeSmog, 8/1/19, 6/4/24; The Washington Post, 11/2/21; Claremont Review of Books, accessed 6/13/24; The American Mind, 6/12/24]