Did the Russian Secret Service Mastermind 'Climategate'?

UN officials say the computer hackers were paid by well-funded operatives bent on undermining a climate treaty in Copenhagen

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Were Russian spies behind the hacking that kicked off the Climategate scandal? Suspicions are swirling following a statement by Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a vice-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), alleging that 'Climategate' was engineered by sophisticated, well-funded operatives attempting to "destroy public confidence" in the science of climate change. He argued that because the e-mails "were first uploaded to a skeptic website from a computer in Russia" it indicates the hackers were paid. The British press in particular has latched onto the issue, accusing Russia of engineering Climategate to jeopardize a global climate treaty in Copenhagen. The putative motive? Global warming might paint Siberia green. But many are calling the accusation baseless and irresponsible:

  • Not the Work of Amateurs, writes Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs: "I don’t know if Russia was responsible, but this has never looked like a simple case of computerized vandalism to me. After looking through the stolen data, it’s very clear that whoever did it spent a lot of time picking out the bits that would look the most incriminating, specifically to sabotage the Copenhagen summit."
  • A Nefarious Russian Plot, suggests Shaun Walker at The Independent: "This... could be part of a ploy to delay negotiations or win further concessions for Moscow. Russia, along with the United States, was accused of delaying Kyoto, and the signals coming from Moscow recently have continued to dismay environmental activists." The UK's Daily Mail adds that Russia is one of the world's largest oil producers and has a "vested interest in opposing sweeping new agreements to cut emissions."
  • Pure, Unsubstantiated, Speculation, writes Richard at EU Referendum: "The fact that the material was placed on a Russian server gives no clue whatsoever as to the identity of the person (or persons) who uploaded the material, or of their location. The newspapers, therefore, have to invent a connection and a 'motive' in order to forge a link."
  • An Attempt to Discredit Climategate, writes James Delingpole at The Telegraph: "The fact that Climategate was tactically planned and politically motivated doesn’t suddenly make it a spy-story, or a crime-story, or – as the IPCC would so dearly love to pretend, a non-story. We shall see a lot more of this in the coming weeks: desperate attempts by various interested parties to pretend that Climategate is something that it is not."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.