DOE Grantee Directed to Remove References to Paris Agreement from Report

During the Obama Administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $1.3 million grant to Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University, for research on the links between climate change and extreme weather. Based on that research, Dr. Diffenbaugh authored a series of papers, including one examining how achievement of the Paris Agreement's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets would affect extreme weather events. In June 2017, Dr. Diffenbaugh submitted the paper to DOE for approval and was told that it would require additional review, because it included "some red flag words" that "have gotten [DOE's Biological and Environmental Research program] into hot water in the past." Following the review, in July 2017, DOE officials told Dr. Diffenbaugh that the "paper is solid on the science and will be an important contribution to the literature." However, officials expressed concern "about the strong framing in terms of the Paris Agreements," and suggested that Dr. Diffenbaugh "drop[] the Paris framing." Dr. Diffenbaugh was told that, if he did not reframe the paper, he could "not include an acknowledgement to [the DOE] grant." Since Stanford University requires full disclosure of funding in papers, this would have prevented Dr. Diffenbaugh from publishing his work.

Dr. Diffenbaugh ultimately decided to publish the paper as drafted and disclose his funding sources. He was later notified that funding for his project had been eliminated. 

An earlier report authored by Dr. Diffenbaugh was also subject to additional review by DOE staff because it included references to the Clean Power Plan, social cost of carbon, and other "concerning" words.