WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01:  U.S. President Donald Trump concludes his announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. President Donald Trump concludes his announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:09
Who influenced Trump's climate thinking?
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
00:57
Draft study warns of severe climate change
PHOTO: pool
Now playing
01:09
Pruitt (still) won't say what Trump believes
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01:  U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:54
Staff mum on if Trump believes climate change
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump walk together during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
PHOTO: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump walk together during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Now playing
01:36
Trump has said often climate change isn't real
al gore trump paris agreement climate crisis town hall sot_00001017.jpg
al gore trump paris agreement climate crisis town hall sot_00001017.jpg
Now playing
01:47
Gore: Trump surprised me on Paris Agreement
panelists spar over climate deal
PHOTO: CNN
panelists spar over climate deal
Now playing
02:38
Panel erupts: Stop using fake stats
PHOTO: pool
Now playing
01:25
President Trump withdraws US from Paris accord
Now playing
01:44
Haley: Trump believes the climate is changing
india react trump withdrawl ravi agrawal_00010121.jpg
india react trump withdrawl ravi agrawal_00010121.jpg
Now playing
01:46
India standing by Paris climate deal
PHOTO: ABC
Now playing
01:08
Late night mocks Trump's decision
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26, 2017 in Sicily.
The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and Italy will be joined by representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia during the summit from May 26 to 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Tiziana FABI        (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26, 2017 in Sicily. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and Italy will be joined by representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia during the summit from May 26 to 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Tiziana FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:01
Macron to US: Make our planet great again
CA GOV Jerry Brown ISO CNNI
PHOTO: CNN
CA GOV Jerry Brown ISO CNNI
Now playing
01:42
California governor: Trump's decision is crazy
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
02:46
Zakaria: US resigned as leader of free world
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29:  People gather near the U.S. Capitol for the People
PHOTO: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: People gather near the U.S. Capitol for the People's Climate Movement before marching to the White House to protest President Donald Trump's enviromental policies April 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Demonstrators across the country are gathering to demand a clean energy economy. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:18
Thousands protest Trump's climate policies
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:15
Trump Admin guts Obama-era climate regulations

Story highlights

Small non-profit played a major role in Trump's climate agreement decision

Myron Ebell served as the head of Trump's EPA transition team

(CNN) —  

Myron Ebell hadn’t met President Donald Trump until Thursday at the White House following the President’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

But Ebell, the head of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, likely had as much influence shaping Trump’s decision as any single individual.

As director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-profit policy center that was in favor of withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Ebell had direct and indirect influence that might have helped change the political and environmental direction of the US.

Following news that Trump was waffling on whether or not to uphold his campaign promise of withdrawing the US from the pact, Ebell’s CEI put out a TV ad with video montages of Trump promising to do just that during the election.

Speaking to CNN, Ebell said the point was to remind the President what promises he had made to his voters – and Ebell believes it worked.

“There’s a large wing of people who probably identify as part of the ‘basket of deplorables’ in the Trump administration and there are a bunch of people who are much more comfortable identifying as part of the swamp,” Ebell said. “So there was a debate, a real debate in the White House and in the Cabinet. So we just wanted to remind the president which side he’s on.”

Ebell is proud of what his relatively unknown group has been able to accomplish. But exactly who funds CEI is a mystery.

A review of IRS forms shows several large individual donations, including one for more than $1.5 million, and others for hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The non-profit is not required to identify its donors, and when asked by CNN, Ebell declined to say where his organization’s money comes from.

“It’s a small organization. We have been very persistent. We haven’t given up. And I think we have, to a large extent, finally prevailed through the actions of President Trump and his administration,” Ebell said.

Ebell, though not a scientist, has emerged as one of the world’s foremost climate deniers.

A few months before the Paris pact entered its final stage in 2015, he wrote in a blog post that President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” was “illegal” and lamented the gains likely to be incurred by “renewable energy producers” at the expense of coal and natural gas.

Activists have called Ebell a “climate criminal,” and he has said that climate change is “phony” and a bogus “pretext for expanding government.”

He suggested in an action plan during the transition that Trump rescind six Obama-era executive orders aimed at curbing climate change and regulating carbon emissions. Trump followed those suggestions after taking office.

CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report