Naomi Klein is more interested in "waging ideological warfare" than tackling climate change, according to one of America's biggest green groups.

In a letter to the Guardian responding to the Canadian author's recent comments that big green groups were more damaging than "climate deniers" because of their relationship with big business and lobbying for market-based fixes to global warming, Eric Pooley, senior vice-president for strategy and communications at the Environmental Defence Fund, said that she was "promoting her new book with the time-honoured tactic of saying something so outrageous that media can't help but report it".

In an interview with US magazine Earth Island Journal, Klein argued that green groups' advocacy for partnering with business and adopting market measures had "steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results" and had "been more damaging than the rightwing [climate] denialism in terms of how much ground we've lost."

She added: "I think if we look at the track record of [the] Kyoto [protocol], of the UN clean development mechanism, the European Union's emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it's disastrous."

But Pooley said: "Klein rejects our [EDF's] strategy of building coalitions with businesses because she sees climate action as a way to reform or replace capitalism itself," adding: "when faced with the choice of making progress in our fight against climate change or waging ideological warfare, we will always choose the former".

He cited the EU carbon trading scheme as a success that has "driven significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions." The scheme, which launched in 2005, has struggled to put a high price on carbon emissions from industry, leading to a package of rescue reforms earlier this year. Global carbon emissions have risen rapidly since the Kyoto protocol was adopted in 1997, and are now more than 48% higher than 1992 levels.

Pooley added that while he thought Klein was right to recognise a rise in grassroots environmental activism, solutions to climate change would require "a broad circle of non-traditional allies" as well as core activists.

An EDF-funded study published this week found that leaks of methane from fracking wells – which would seriously undermine the climate benefits of burning shale gas rather than coal – were being effectively controlled. Pooley wrote in his letter that "natural gas is being used today, so EDF will fight for strong rules and enforcement that protect ecosystems and communities from hydraulic fracturing".

Klein is currently working on a climate change-focused book, which will also be made into a film, and is due to be published next year. © Guardian News and Media 2013