No, the government has not given billions to the Climate Council. Image by Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS

Climate funding claim way off the money

William Summers March 22, 2024

The Climate Council has received $41 billion in funding from the Australian government.


False. The Climate Council does not receive government funding. Its annual revenue is about $8 million.

There are claims the Australian government has given the Climate Council a staggering $41 billion of taxpayer money.

This is false. The Climate Council is a non-profit environmental advocacy group funded from public donations and philanthropy. 

The council’s total annual income is about $8 million, less than 0.02 per cent of the $41 billion figure cited in the claim.

The claim was made by Pat Mesiti, a former church pastor turned “income acceleration coach” and self-described “Australian icon”.

A screenshot from the Facebook video.
 Pat Mesiti makes some eye-popping funding claims in the video. 

In a Facebook video posted on March 18, Mr Mesiti listed several advocacy groups he claims received government funding, including the Climate Council.

“I didn’t realise the high cost of activism that governments actually spend. Do you realise that you right now, the people of Australia, are spending over $3 billion to climate change activism? …Do you realise that the Climate Council got awarded $41 billion?” (video mark 1min 55sec).

To put the $41 billion figure in context, it equates to about three-quarters of Australia’s $53 billion defence budget and about 30 per cent more than the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water‘s entire funding allocation for 2023/24 (page 24).

The claim is disproved by looking at the Climate Council’s annual reports, which show the organisation’s total annual income is far less than Mr Mesiti’s figure of $41 billion.

In 2022/23, the council reported revenue of $7,881,784 (page 43), while in 2021/22, its total income was $8,292,165 (page 43).

A Climate Council report (file image)
 The Climate Council’s annual revenue is about million. 

As a registered charity, the Climate Council is obligated to report its annual finances to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Those financial reports show the majority of the organisation’s funding comes from donors and fundraising.

The council’s 2023 financial report, for example, shows $6.9 million of its $7.9 million total income (88 per cent) was derived from donations (page 14).

A further $83,261 (one per cent) came from fundraising and $831,472 (10.5 per cent) came from grants.

Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Climate Council, confirmed that the claim is false.

“The Climate Council is a proudly community-funded, independent organisation, and it has been from day one,” she told AAP FactCheck.

“We don’t receive government funding for core business, including producing research or undertaking analysis.”

She said that several years ago the independent government agency Arena supported a particular Climate Council program. However, this represented just two per cent of the total income received by the organisation in that particular period.

Mr Mesiti also claimed in the video the ‘Yes’ campaign in the 2023 voice referendum was given $450 million in taxpayer funding (video mark 2min 31sec).

Neither the ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’ campaigns received government funding.

Mr Mesiti has previously made false claims related to the United Nation’s COP26 climate summit and federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen.

The Verdict

The claim the Climate Council was awarded $41 billion by the federal government is false.

The climate advocacy organisation has an annual income of about $8 million, which is mostly derived from donations and fundraising.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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