The Green Blob Unveiled: How UK Energy Policy is Bought With American Billionaires' Cash

The Green Blob Unveiled: How UK Energy Policy is Bought With American Billionaires' Cash

When Owen Paterson was sacked from his position as Environment Secretary back in June, he blamed the ‘Green Blob’ – a conglomeration of “powerful, self-serving” environmental lobbyists. Now an investigation by the Mail on Sunday has given shape to that blob, identifying the foundations that give well over half a billion pounds a year to environmental lobby groups – who are targeting the UK as the country leading the way in green energy policies.

At the centre of the blob is just one organisation: the European Climate Foundation (ECF), which pulls in about £20million a year in funds donated mainly from America, Switzerland and Holland, and parcels it back out to green lobbyists such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Alliance and E3G (the elite lobby group which persuaded the government to set up the Green Investment Bank at a cost of £3billion) and others. Many more millions are donated to these groups directly.

“The projects we fund all fall within the overall mission of the Foundation to support the development of a prosperous low-carbon economy in Europe,” Tom Brooks, managing director of the ECF told the Mail.

He argued that the ECF merely provides “a fact base” to help politicians and policy makers make the “many complex decisions that are necessary to move towards a high-innovation, prosperous and low-carbon future,” adding “The UK is a leader in many of these fields.”

Indeed, so successful has the lobbying effort been in the UK, that their efforts have seen policies put in place that cost the British economy between £360 billion and £400 billion to implement by 2030, according to energy analyst Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital. He says that the cost will see household energy bills rise by a further third in real terms, on top of the rises already seen over the past decade.

The blob scored another victory this week when European Union leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The policy represents a drastic acceleration of climate change policy: the previous agreement was dubbed the 20:20 agreement as it consisted of cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent from a 1990 base level by 2020. T

his new policy aims to double the target in just one third of the time. To do so will mean massive investment in renewable and nuclear power, with a commensurate closing of carbon fuelled power stations. In its 2013 annual report, the ECF said that working towards the 2030 agreement was “a big focus area for ECF as a whole”.

Already Britain is facing the threat of blackouts this winter. Yesterday energy secretary Ed Davey confirmed in an interview that several disused power stations are going to be brought back online, whilst big businesses will be paid by the National Grid to generate their own power in the event of shortages. Other companies will be paid compensation and may be asked to reduce their working week.

“Some companies would change their behaviour, voluntarily, and be recompensed for it. Turning down their refrigerators by a degree, or changing a shift pattern for a week so staff come in earlier. The idea is to move factory production away from peak energy demand periods,” Mr Davey told the Telegraph. He was also forced to pledge that there “will be no blackouts this winter”.

The European deal does include a get-out clause: if other countries refuse to match the targets, Europe may be able to ‘review’ its target, or in other words, scrap it. With global powerhouses such as China, India and Australia refusing to sign up, and America looking likely to follow, that outcome is a marked possibility.

However, the option isn’t open to Britain thanks to the 2008 Climate Change Act which commits the country to reducing emissions levels by 80 percent from the 1990 base line by 2050. That Act was written by a Friends of the Earth lobbyist, Bryony Worthington, later Baroness Worthington thanks to Ed Miliband who made her a Labour peer in 2011.

Whilst working for Friends of the Earth she drafted a memo recommending the target, and outlining how it could be achieved by a massive shift to electric cars and heating, whilst investing heavily in renewable and nuclear energy.

Her lobbying efforts in promoting her memo paid off. First David Cameron, keen to rebrand the Conservative Party in a new green light, backed the proposals. Not to be outdone, the Labour government granted her a position within the civil service to redraft the memo as a Bill, which later became the Climate Change Act. Her job done, Worthington left the civil service to set up a new lobbying outfit, Sandbag, which lobbies for more stringent carbon taxes. Unsurprisingly, that organisation too has been granted funding from the ECF.

At the same time as the Act was passing through parliament, in 2007/8, ECF was also donating to Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid, and the World Wildlife Fund to coordinate a campaign against coal fired power plants. They also funded Client Earth, a group of lawyers who managed to secure court acquittals for the direct action protestors who scaled the chimneys of the Kingsnorth power plant in Kent and occupied it.

The action on many fronts prompted Ed Miliband, who was then energy secretary, to cancel a new unit planned at Kingsnorth and commit to no new coal fired stations in the UK. The success of the campaign prompted Jules Kortenhorst, president of the ECF to boast that Miliband’s actions were in response to “a complex, multifaceted effort over a year and a half, with grass-roots mobilisation campaigns [and] behind the scenes lobbying.

“All of this work, backed by substantial philanthropic investment, resulted in UK Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband announcing that no new coal-fired power plants would be built… This is an example of a policy that can be replicated, increasing its impact,” he added.

As powerful as the European Climate Foundation is, it pales in comparison to its parent body, Climate Works, which boasts a budget not in the tens of millions, but in the hundreds. Climate Works was born out of a paper entitled “Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming”.

Funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Energy Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Oak Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the paper drew global support. It’s Scientific Advisory team included Dr Robert Socolow of Princeton University, Professor Michael Grubb of Cambridge University, Dr Priyadarshi Shukla of the Indian Institute of Management, and Dr Adrian Fernandez of the National Institute for Ecology of Mexico, amongst others.

Penned in 2007, the paper argued that without radical action, “we could lose the fight against global warming over the next ten years,” and called for $600 million in funding in order to mount an effective campaign to change governmental energy policies. The next year, $500 million was donated by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which distributes the vast fortune amassed via the Hewlett-Packard computer company followed by another $100 million soon after. A further $60million was donated by the sister Packard foundation. One of the first tasks undertaken by US-based Climate Works was to set up the ECF as its European regional office. The ECF currently has offices in London, Brussels, The Hague, Berlin and Warsaw.

In July, a US Senate Committee report named the Hewlett foundation as a key part of a “billionaires club” which controlled the green movement by pumping more than half a billion dollars into the environmental industry each year.  The report claimed that “wealthy liberals fully exploit the benefits of a generous tax code meant to promote genuine philanthropy and charitable acts,” and were diverting money to “activists” to “promote shared political goals”.

In contrast, Europe’s only think-tank dedicated to promoting a sceptical viewpoint on man-made global warming and related energy policy has an annual budget of £300,000 and employs just three people.

Yesterday, its director, Dr Benny Peiser, said “At the end of the day, someone will have to be held accountable for us committing economic suicide. We are the only organisation that does what we do – against hundreds on the other side, all saying the same thing.”


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