Global Energy Monitor was launched under the name CoalSwarm in early 2008 and later that year was accepted as a project of Earth Island Institute, an incubator for innovative projects in ecology and social justice. Affiliation with Earth Island Institute gave access to logistical resources and 501(c)3 tax status, allowing the project to receive tax-deductible donations as well as foundation support. In 2018 CoalSwarm became an independent 501 (c3) organization, and in 2019 changed its name to Global Energy Monitor.