EXPOSED: How a shadowy network funded by foreign millions is making our household energy bills soar – for a low-carbon Britain
Shadowy pro-green lobbyists working at every level of the Establishment
Organisations are channelling tens of millions of pounds into green policies
Elite lobby group linked to Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the WWF
Current energy policies shaped by the Green Blob will cost up to £400 billion
If continued, there will be further eye-watering energy bill rises for Britons
The ‘Green Blob’, a phrase first coined by former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, is a group of pro-green lobbyists working at every level of the British Establishment
By David Rose for the Mail on Sunday
26 October 2014
The Mail on Sunday today exposes how a ‘Green Blob’ financed by a shadowy group of hugely wealthy foreign donors is driving Britain towards economically ruinous eco targets.
The phrase the ‘Green Blob’ was coined by former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson after he was sacked from the Cabinet in July.
He was referring to a network of pro-green lobbyists working at every level of the British Establishment, who have helped shape the eco policies sending household energy bills soaring.
But investigations by this newspaper reveal the Blob is not just an abstract concept.
We have found that innocuous-sounding bodies such as the Dutch National Postcode Lottery, the American William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Swiss Oak Foundation are channelling tens of millions of pounds each year to climate change lobbyists in Britain, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
They have publicly congratulated themselves on their ability to create green Government policy in the UK – most notably after Ed Miliband steered through aggressive CO2 reduction targets in his 2008 Climate Change Act, and announced there would be no more coal power stations.
Yet the consequences of their continuing success are certain: further eye-watering rises in energy costs for millions of Britons and an increasing risk of blackouts.
According to leading energy analyst Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital, current UK energy policies shaped by the Blob will cost between £360 billion and £400 billion to implement by 2030. He said this will see bills rise by at least a third in real terms – on top of the increases already seen over the past ten years.
This bill dwarfs the EU’s £1.7 billion demand from Britain last week.
Lobbying by the Blob helped lead to a new European Union emissions deal announced on Friday, when EU leaders including the Prime Minister agreed to triple the current pace of emissions cuts.
Following earlier deals, EU-wide emissions of CO2 are supposed to fall 20 per cent over the 30-year period 1990 to 2020.
Under the new agreement, this reduction must be doubled in just a decade, reaching ‘at least’ 40 per cent by 2030 – a goal that could only be accomplished through further massive investment in wind and nuclear energy.
At the heart of the Blob is a single institution – the European Climate Foundation (ECF) – which has offices in London, Brussels, The Hague, Berlin and Warsaw.
Every year it receives about £20 million from ‘philanthropic’ foundations in America, Holland and Switzerland, and channels most of it to green campaign and lobby groups.
It refuses to disclose how much it gives to each recipient, and does not publish its accounts. But it admits that the purpose of these grants is to influence British and EU climate and energy policy across a broad front.
Many more millions are fed directly to British and European lobby groups from the same overseas foundations which also fund ECF.
In its last annual report, ECF said working towards a 2030 deal was ‘a big focus area for ECF as a whole’.
ECF managing director Tom Brookes told The Mail on Sunday he provides ‘a fact-base’ to help policy-makers make the ‘many complex decisions that are necessary to move towards a high-innovation, prosperous and low-carbon future’. He added: ‘The UK is a leader in many of these fields.’
The Blob and Red Ed
Friday’s EU deal contains a get-out clause: if the rest of the world fails to agree a binding global emissions treaty at a UN conference in Paris next year, then Europe’s targets can be ‘reviewed’ – or in other words, abandoned.
Giants such as China, India and Australia have insisted they will not sign such a treaty. It is also unlikely to be approved by the US Congress, which is Republican-controlled.
However, thanks to Ed Miliband and his 2008 Climate Change Act, the get-out will make no difference for Britain. The UK is the only country which already has a binding target for 2050. By then, the law says, UK emissions must be 80 per cent down on 1990.
Mr Miliband’s Act also created a mechanism for ensuring the country sticks to a path that achieves this target – the so-called ‘carbon budget’. The scale of the challenge that its latest version poses is not widely realised.
Over the next 15 years, the electricity industry has to cut the CO2 it emits for every kilowatt it generates by 90 per cent – an unprecedented transformation.
But the carbon budget also means the total amount of power generating capacity has to more than double. In order to meet the 2050 target, there has to be a massive shift towards electric vehicles and heating. While fossil fuel power plants will close, both their replacements and this vast additional capacity will have to be wind or nuclear – by far the most expensive types of power.
Remarkably, green lobby group Friends of the Earth not only conceived the Climate Change Act, but Bryony Worthington, the FoE official who came up with the idea and lobbied MPs to support it, later actually drafted it.
‘When you’re on the outside lobbying, you kind of hope that you are going to have an impact, [but] you’re never really very sure,’ she told a green seminar three years ago.
But she hit the jackpot. Her proposal was taken up first by the new Tory leader, David Cameron, and followed by the then-Labour Government. Worthington, who was seconded into the civil service, was asked to rewrite her lobbyist’s memo, this time as a law.
Once it was safely on the statute book, she left the civil service to form a new green campaign group, Sandbag, which presses the Government to adopt more stringent forms of carbon taxes. Like her previous employer FoE, it is now funded by ECF. Ed Miliband made her a Labour peer in 2011.
While the Act was going through Parliament, the ECF, which was launched in 2007-8, was giving money to Greenpeace UK, FoE, Christian Aid and the WWF to mount a campaign against coal-fired power plants. Also funded was Client Earth, a group of lawyers who secured court acquittals for ‘direct action’ protesters who broke into the Kingsnorth plant in Kent, climbed its chimneys and occupied it.
The campaign persuaded Mr Miliband to announce the cancellation of a planned new generating unit at Kingsnorth – and that there would be no new coal plants built in Britain.
Afterwards, the ECF president, Jules Kortenhorst, boasted that Miliband had acted in response to ‘a complex, multifaceted effort over a year and a half, with grass-roots mobilisation campaigns [and] behind the scenes lobbying’.
He added: ‘All of this work, backed by substantial philanthropic [sic] 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.’
Follow the money
The most significant source for the ECF’s millions is a body called Climate Works – a private foundation which channels colossal sums to climate campaigners worldwide.
The Climate Works manifesto was set out in 2007 in a document entitled ‘Design to Win: Philanthropy’s [sic] Role in the Fight Against Global Warming’. It said that to be effective, a campaign to change government policies on energy and emissions would need at least $600 million from donors.
It was driven by the belief that without radical action, ‘we could lose the fight against global warming over the next ten years’.
It advocated the giving of generous grants to local campaigners in countries such as Britain who had detailed knowledge of the way their political systems operated.
As well as better energy efficiency, carbon taxes and emissions caps, they must ‘promote renewables and low emission alternatives’. Utility companies must be given ‘financial incentives’ – in other words, enormous subsidies from tax and bill payers – to make this happen.
Climate Works soon achieved its ambitious fundraising target, with a grant in 2008 of $500 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which spends the fortune amassed by the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard computer firm. This was followed by further grants of up to $100 million, and donations of $60 million from the sister Packard foundation. In July, a report by a US Senate committee named the Hewlett foundation as a key element in a ‘billionaires’ club’ which effectively controlled the environmental movement, pumping more than half a billion dollars a year into green groups around the world.
It claimed these ‘wealthy liberals fully exploit the benefits of a generous tax code meant to promote genuine philanthropy and charitable acts’, but instead were transferring money to ‘activists’ to ‘promote shared political goals’.
One of the US-based Climate Works’s first acts was to set up and fund ECF as its European regional office. All ECF’s main funders are represented on ECF’s board, including Charlotte Pera, who is also Climate Works’s CEO. Susan Bell, ECF’s vice-chairman, was formerly the Hewlett foundation’s vice-president.
Another director is Kate Hampton, an executive director at the Children’s Investment Fund, a UK charity with assets worth £324 million.Others come from finance and business. ECF’s chairman is Caio Koch-Weser, vice-chairman of Deutsche Bank, whose contacts in Brussels could not be better: from 2003–5, he chaired the EU’s Economic and Financial committee. Yet another director is Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland.
It is hard to assess the ECF’s full impact for a simple reason – although it publishes the names of some of the organisations it funds, it does not state how much it gives, nor exactly how this money is used.
The ECF’s Tom Brookes said: ‘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.’
He would not explain why no amounts were stated, saying only that ECF’s annual report ‘describes the objectives of each ECF programme area and its significant grantees.
‘We are confident that this is a sufficient level of detail to provide insight into the work of the Foundation… Our policy on the information we publish reflects our responsibilities to our grantees and donors.’
Nevertheless, it is clear from the information that is available that the list of ECF funding recipients is a Who’s Who of the green movement, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the WWF, Client Earth, Carbon Brief, the Green Alliance, and E3G, the elite lobby group that persuaded the Government to set up the £3 billion Green Investment Bank.
The 2013 ECF report sets out its priorities for Britain, praising its ‘leadership on the climate front’ – thanks to the Climate Change Act.
It also boasts that its grants had an impact on this year’s Energy Act: ‘ECF grantees such as Green Alliance, E3G, and Greenpeace helped secure important milestones such as an emissions performance standard for new power stations.’
To ECF’s dismay, however, the supposed UK ‘consensus’ on climate and energy is now in jeopardy: ‘Household energy bills have shot to the top of the political agenda, and progress on decarbonisation is tangled in competing visions of the country’s energy future… A growing number of media and political voices are casting doubt on the climate science and the economic case for action.’
Against this opposition, ECF’s 2013 report says it intends to work with British greens to ‘rebuild confidence in the low-carbon transition’, by ‘fact-checking the UK media’s coverage of climate and energy issues’.
It says it will ‘establish a new unit that will promote evidence-based discussions in the media and mobilise authoritative voices on the low-carbon economy’.
Since the report was published, this unit has come into being, run by former BBC environment correspondent Richard Black. How effective it will be remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the sheer scale of this lavishly funded lobbying effort dwarfs that of its opponents.
The Global Warming Policy Forum in London, Europe’s only think-tank which is sceptical about climate science and energy policy, has an annual budget of £300,000 and employs just three people.
Its director, Dr Benny Peiser, said yesterday: ‘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.’