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The Green Economy as a Continuation of War by Other Means

CNS Web

February 2, 2016

by Alexander Dunlap

 

NO MEANS NO TO GREEN IMPERIALISM

 

The following essay has been modified from a speech given at the 10th Conference of Critical Justice in Latin America (X Conferencia Latinoamericana de Crítica Jurídica) on April 23, 2015 on a panel titled: “Rights, Dependency and Capitalist Accumulation in Latin America” (Mesa Derecho, dependencia y acumulación capitalista en América Latina). This speech was based on the paper, “The Militarisation and Marketisation of Nature: An Alternative Lens to ‘Climate-Conflict,’” (Geopolitics, 2014) while also building from it, discussing some examples from wind turbine development in the coastal area of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region in Oaxaca Mexico, known as the Istmo.

When we speak about “anthropogenic climate change,” we speak about climate change that is intimately linked to our modern or industrial lifestyles, ones that feel like a routine of jumping through and between boxes: The box shape of the house to the rolling rectangle of the bus, which leads us to work, back to the car, then to the bar, back home, to the computer before bed, and finally, to the rest that anticipates repeating this routine all over again, with hopes of something different for the weekend. In its most simple and basic form, this is the process of anthropogenic climate change. It reeks of the depressing problem of everyday social control and daily confinement within this box system.

What these lifestyles are dependent on are a series of systemic processes: those of industrial waste that result from mining, oil extraction, electricity generation, cars, concrete, asphalt, electronics, and the list goes on. And climate change is really just the result of needing to make this list of resource extraction and technologies grow for the last two hundred years, while intertwining this need with our daily lives.

So when we understand climate change as an issue that is bigger than us, it prevents reflection, inhibits agency, and sends the message that only governments, corporations and NGOs can stop this phenomenon. Yet these institutions’ mitigation and security practices only serve to reinforce global environmental degradation, for the mainstream framework of climate change, while acknowledging a cumulative problem, also projects submission to authority and governing structures that have created new “dystopian markets” with ideas of geo-engineering (see Simon Dalby’s “Geoengineering: The Next Era of Geopolitics?” Geography Compass, 2015).

As I hope to show in the lines that follow, we must acknowledge that climate change has been wielded as a neoliberal weapon to create the idea of the “green economy” in the hopes of maintaining the state and growing economies. These are processes that continue land conflict and pacification through climate change mitigation initiatives and an environmental ethic with various notions of sustainability.

“Green grabbing”

Mainstream notions that seek to address climate change are deeply intertwined with ideas of sustainable development that emerged in the 1970s with the Club of Rome and the 1987 United Nations’ (UN) report Our Common Future, where it was recognized that industrial development had to soften and change its course otherwise it would destroy itself and many of the people dependent on it.

The 1992 Rio+20 Earth Summit recognized climate change and biodiversity loss as critical issues, which would lead to the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It would then give way to the 1997 Kyoto protocol that decided market mechanisms would be the principle way forward to mitigate the problem of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Now enters the notion of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) that has sought to integrate market processes into the natural environment to dissect and quantify it, so that corporations and philanthropists can pay to keep forests standing and “natural resources” intact.

For businessmen and stupid environmentalists alike, these proposals have been called a “win-win” solution. These areas have been cordoned off on the false and historically genocidal premise of “pristine” or “wild nature,” which claims that humans but specifically indigenous peoples cannot live in forests if they are to be “saved”, conserved, and maintained as “pristine.” As I hope many know, this is contrary to the historical record as many indigenous people made the pristine forests of the Amazon and the world (see my previous work with James Fairhead: “The Militarisation and Marketisation of Nature,” Geopolitics, 2014.)

These are the same areas that are now the new frontiers of capital investment; these new measures and market mechanisms have now made new markets out of trees, plants, and animal life with notions of “carbon sequestration” and “biodiversity.” These novel and strange terms are used to measure and quantify the natural environment and support the commodification and transformation of larger and “exotic” wildlife into a spectacle for office workers and the wealthy with the rise of ecotourism.

Most recently we have the “green market” as the latest pretext to take over land, displace native groups, and create new sustainable development initiatives while powering the cities and factories with renewable energy, often in the name of slowing anthropogenic climate change. Journalist John Vidal has dubbed this capture of land through sustainable development using an environmental rational as “green grabbing,” gesturing to a shared logic of “land grabbing” Marx once termed to describe the systematic theft of communal property from the 15th to 19th centuries.

It is no surprise that these friendly and environmentally conscious ideas have continued the trajectory of the industrial economy, for there was never once a reflection about slowing this industrial cancer that has become so common.

The green economy as counterinsurgency

We should also remember that the history of state craft, development, and the market has been firmly rooted in waging a war for the submission and acquiescence of people and the natural environment into its organizational structure and growth. Nancy Peluso and Peter Vandergeest have shown how geographical landscapes and towns are built on campaigns of widespread terror against both people and the natural environment, whether in colonial, post-colonial or democratic countries (“Political Ecologies of War and Forests: Counterinsurgencies and the Making of National Natures,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2011).

Terrorizing unruly people into submission has always been a perquisite for all states to establish a territory and gain a grasp on, and make legible the people, forest, minerals and animals of “the nation”—after all, the kings, empires and states claimed it as their own and because we were their “subjects” this was never a problem, right? This means that if people are not revolting, they are submitting to a claim brought upon them, and this claim was always met with resistance.

The people and the forest worked together to wage every type of insurgency against the colonial, post-colonial and democratic regimes in different times and places in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In general, one can see a pattern that required all states to terrorize and traumatize people through campaigns of counterinsurgency warfare, resettlement campaigns into suburban style villages, cities, and factories with an overall goal to corral and integrate people into “modern” work, national culture and the demands of the economy. Indeed, all states have been at war to subjugate and colonize the people of their “territory” to the imperatives of its organization, which demarcated “Jungles” wild, from “forests” controlled, and forests from agriculture, regimenting every aspect of life and environment to the principle of separations inherent in scientific method. It is under this history of war that the economy and now the green economy stands.

Placing the green economy within the framework of counterinsurgency, the leading theory of state sanctioned pacification, is insightful in this regard. For example, David Kilcullen, Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army and a leading counterinsurgency strategist, defines counterinsurgency as “a competition with the insurgent for the right and ability to win the hearts, minds and acquiescence of the population” (“Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency,” 2006 [PDF]). Here, the term “hearts” is described as “persuading people their best interests are served by your success,” and the term “minds,” as “convincing them that you can protect them, and that resisting you is pointless.” The green economy is thus an advancement in capturing people to rally for the survival of the economy and business imperatives of the state and its corporate partners—and this in both the city and countryside.

Inclusionary control as pre-emptive pacification

By now, most people have formed their identities and habits around this industrial system, and are attracted to ideas about carbon and biodiversity offsetting, participatory conservation, and renewable energy that provide us with illusions that life and the economy can co-exist. But in many ways this is not true.

Taking the Barra de Santa Teresa near where I live as an example, Mareña Renovables/Eólica del Sur wants to build upwards of hundred industrial wind turbines (aerogeneradore), on a scared and rare ecological zone that took 10,000 years to form, but guess what? The Barra is made of sand and vegetation, which means they will have to pour around a kilometer or possibly more of concrete for their foundations—individually for around one-hundred industrial wind turbines. This is an insane amount of concrete that will no doubt destroy the water table, and create an excess of sand, which as I was told by coastal ecologist, Patricia Mora, “will be total ecological devastation.”

The green economy is advancing techniques of “inclusionary control,” which is a way to include more humans and non-human lives into state and market structures. However, the mid-to-long-term interest of people is to not take the money or questionable promises of jobs, but to get rid of these structures and rehabilitate the land with healthy soil, fruit trees, and animals so they can secure food, shelter, and work to build healthy environments.

Inclusionary control is counterinsurgency and the art of preemptive pacification, which is the art of including people to exclude and neglect their structural grievances—no/crap jobs, no/crap education, drinking toxic waste, police violence, and the standardization of life (the box system) and so on— that is inherent in states, economies and capitalism of every brand. It is why the importance of transforming one’s task into improving the environment is multiplied tenfold if people also value their cultures, land, and lifestyles not being entirely dependent on the economy.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent as Inclusionary Control

An interesting mechanism that is being deployed in the Istmo right now, in the struggle over the invasion of thousands of wind turbines, is the UN’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) procedure, which is mandatory for signatory nations to conduct when constructing development projects on indigenous lands and communities. This mechanism, a success after years of struggle for indigenous recognition, could be important for stalling and fighting megaprojects.

Nevertheless, if people are not conscious, if they are divided and fighting each other—the goal of all governments, corporations and drug dealers alike—then this mechanism can be used by corporate-state alliances to pacify people with the feeling that they are being heard, included, and consulted. It will then reaffirm the strong mythology of democracy that everyone wants to desperately believe in.

But for some reason, whether democracy or dictatorship, people are never really permitted the simple answer: No, we do not want these projects here. No we do not want a form of development that is our submission to factories, migration, and mechanized labor. Rights create constructs of illusion that will always mediate the power of people through states and as I am watching now, FPIC is in a way similar to a ceasefire that allows the deception and fragmentation of people in resistance, while the state, companies and unions can re-strategize and regroup their forces.

Likewise, as I have argued in another paper about UN-REDD+, FPIC is equivalent to an indigenous Miranda Rights (“The Expanding Techniques of Progress: Agricultural Biotechnology and UN-REDD+,”Crossmark, 2014). Miranda rights in the United States are your rights once you have been arrested—“you have the right to remain silent, seek legal counsel,” and so on. In the case with the FPIC in the Istmo, it tells people that you have the right to be consulted by experts, to voice your grievances, and fight for jobs, but while we talk 18 parks are being constructed, with more planned on top of Ejidos and communal land [Silvia Chavela Rivas, “Eólicas: ocaso o resplandor?” 2015 [PDF, Spanish]).

In short, people are being arrested to the imperatives of economic growth and industrial expansion that will destroy life, make alternatives more difficult and create the collective fate of shuffling papers, pimping plastic and flipping burgers—a fate that is already a reality for many, many who often do not care about wind turbines and whose desires and projectuality tend to mimic what is televised in soap operas and music videos.

FPIC is a way to implicate people and hang them with their own participation and rights, when really people have their best interest in rejecting all mediation by state and corporate structures and coming together to create alternative projects, perspectives and even ‘jobs’—since this is a selling point for wind turbines in the region—to improve their lives, but in the end, the hierarches supported by the state and the powers that they bear will not let them without a brutal fight.

War is complex and the green economy is advancing land acquisition and displacement, claiming to fight environmental degradation, while simultaneously advancing it. It is nothing short than crazy, and it is a type of psychosis built in the fantasies of the American or development dream that either are not true for many, hollow for those who achieve it, or maybe it is the answer to everything. Either way, regardless of the different trajectories everyone will still be working to propel the modern industrial system. Probably in an office or some type of building, losing your vision and breath to a computer, trapped in a toxic environments, when really humans should probably be working for healthy, happier and freer lives and we must acknowledge that freedom is disingenuous when it is capturing and killing the people around you, both human and non-human alike.

 

[Alexander Dunlap is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His current research focuses on the social impact of wind energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. He can be contacted at a.d.dunlap@vu.nl]

Human Rights vs. Right Based Fishing: The Ideological Battleground in Siem Reap

World Forum of Fishers People

April 28, 2015

By the international secretariat of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples – 26 April 2015

WFFP-679x1024

(2014) Photo courtesy of Masifundise 

On 23-27 March 2014, six representatives from the global fisher movements, the WFFP and WFF, supported by ICSF and a couple of researchers, participated in the UserRights2015 Conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Few in numbers, these delegates represents millions of people from indigenous and small-scale fishing communities. The additional 130 participants were from government, inter-governmental organisations, academia, big business, and international conservation organisations.

Even after the five days in Cambodia, it remains somehow unclear what the conference aimed at achieving. Bringing together 140 people from across the world – of whom only about 45 were women – should clearly aim at something more concrete than providing “… guidance on how to support appropriate rights-based systems in fisheries and thereby contribute to a sustainable future:”1

During the five days, it became clear that the dominant, hegemonic view brought to the fore by most speakers and delegates centred around ‘private property’ as a fundamental basis for user rights in fisheries. In fisheries governance this is also referred to as Rights Based Fishing, ITQs, Wealth Based Fishing or Catch Shares by various different players.

There is an irony in this almost fundamentalist belief in private property. On the one hand the FAO – the key host of the conference – and the World Bank aims at eliminating huger and reducing rural poverty. On the other hand, the World Bank – as one of the most powerful players in fisheries governance globally – admitted that the private property system is good for some and bad for many. If the very system aggressively promoted by the World Bank – and many other participants at the UserRights conference – is bad for many, how then can it contribute to eliminating hunger and reducing poverty?

For more examples on the devastating consequences of private property systems in fisheries – or Rights Based Fishing – see the Global Ocean Grab: A Primer.

The WFFP delegates repeatedly argued – from the floor, as panellists and in presentations – that small-scale fisheries must be governed by applying a Human Rights Based approach. The underpinning principles of such an approach include equality, indigenous peoples rights, food sovereignty, gender equity, poverty alleviation for all, customary and traditional rights, traditional low-impact fishing, and participation in governance. Yet, these arguments only gave rise to a minimal dialogue, and on numerous occasions the responses were degrading and unwarranted.

The form of the conference allowed for many short and long presentations but limited scope for real engagement and dialogue. As such, it took the shape of an ideological battleground, where the strongest voice may end up being the one that finds its way into a conference report. Considering that proponents of private property were stronger in numbers and were allocated the majority of slots – air time – at the conference, it is feared that the views of the WFFP will becomes oppressed in the outcomes of the conference. While we do not know what to expect in terms of concrete outcomes, it is speculated that the conference will produce a report that will be used by the FAO with respect to its future work on fisheries governance, including the International Guidelines on the responsible Governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests (Tenure Guidelines) and the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines).

Considering that the FAO recently endorsed the SSF Guidelines (2014) and the Tenure Guidelines (2012), it was expected that the FAO would use the guidelines to set the scene and inform the contents of the programme. Yet, aside from a couple of references on the official conference website and the mentioning of the guidelines in an opening speech, it was only the WFFP, WFF and ICSF who consistently made use of the guidelines to inform presentations and dialogue. Many participants seemed unaware of the guidelines – or outright ignored their existence – and the FAO officials showed disappointingly little interest in picking up on the linkages between the main theme of the conference – ‘user rights’ – and the Tenure and SSF Guidelines.

Considering that the FAO has invested huge amounts of human and financial resources in the development of the guidelines, this almost ignorant position is even more controversial.

The strategic use of language in Siem Reap

While many of the ‘usual suspects’ spoke openly about the need for private property, ITQs and similar terms in relation to fisheries governance, some adapted the language and thereby masked their underlying belief in private property as the one and only solution. This way of adapting the language is used to strategically persuade others – including fisher movements across the world – about their ‘honest’ and ‘sincere’ support and not only in Siem Reap but more generally so. At face value, it can be difficult to distinguish the good from the bad, but by looking just a bit deeper it’s not that difficult at all. One approach is to look where the funding comes from, and another is to do a bit of research on the political positions of the various actors and to find out who is serving on their boards. Too often, and in particular with international conservation organisations, we see a very close tie with multinational agri-businesses, super-market chains or other financial giants, and some are even governed by top-business people from the same funding corporations.

In the light of the above, it should come as no surprise that the overall impression of the WFFP is that the conference failed in ‘providing guidance’ – which was the only concrete objective of the conference mentioned on the website. Yet, the participation in the conference was crucial for a couple of reasons. Firstly, without the interventions of the WFFP and friends from WFF, ICSF and a couple of researchers, the conference would have been an assembly of neo-liberal thinkers and institutions who would have had an unhindered opportunity to develop their own plans for fisheries governance on the basis of private property regimes. Secondly, the knowledge and information about some of the key actors and their agendas, which we have gained by participating in the conference, is critical for developing and refining strategies on how to push for a Human Rights Based approach and the implementation of the FAO Guidelines.

A couple of facts about UserRights2015

Donors/partners: Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) Norad and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Participants: 95 men and 45 women

1 The only concrete reference to the objectives of the conference on the official website: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/user-rights-2015/en/

[Book Review] Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism?

The New York Review

Dec 4, 2014

by Elizabeth Kolbert

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein illustration by James Ferguson

Excerpt:

What would it take to radically reduce global carbon emissions and to do so in a way that would alleviate inequality and poverty? Back in 1998, which is to say more than a decade before Klein became interested in climate change, a group of Swiss scientists decided to tackle precisely this question. The plan they came up with became known as the 2,000-Watt Society.

The idea behind the plan is that everyone on the planet is entitled to generate (more or less) the same emissions, meaning everyone should use (more or less) the same amount of energy. Most of us don’t think about our energy consumption—to the extent we think about it at all—in terms of watts or watt-hours. All you really need to know to understand the plan is that, if you’re American, you currently live in a 12,000-watt society; if you’re Dutch, you live in an 8,000-watt society; if you’re Swiss, you live in a 5,000-watt society; and if you’re Bangladeshi you live in a 300-watt society. Thus, for Americans, living on 2,000 watts would mean cutting consumption by more than four fifths; for Bangladeshis it would mean increasing it almost by a factor of seven.

To investigate what a 2,000-watt lifestyle might look like, the authors of the plan came up with a set of six fictional Swiss families. Even those who lived in super energy-efficient houses, had sold their cars, and flew very rarely turned out to be consuming more than 2,000 watts per person. Only “Alice,” a resident of a retirement home who had no TV or personal computer and occasionally took the train to visit her children, met the target.

The need to reduce carbon emissions is, ostensibly, what This Changes Everything is all about. Yet apart from applauding the solar installations of the Northern Cheyenne, Klein avoids looking at all closely at what this would entail. She vaguely tells us that we’ll have to consume less, but not how much less, or what we’ll have to give up. At various points, she calls for a carbon tax. This is certainly a good idea, and one that’s advocated by many economists, but it hardly seems to challenge the basic logic of capitalism. Near the start of the book, Klein floats the “managed degrowth” concept, which might also be called economic contraction, but once again, how this might play out she leaves unexplored. Even more confoundingly, by end of the book she seems to have rejected the idea. “Shrinking humanity’s impact or ‘footprint,’” she writes, is “simply not an option today.”

In place of “degrowth” she offers “regeneration,” a concept so cheerfully fuzzy I won’t even attempt to explain it. Regeneration, Klein writes, “is active: we become full participants in the process of maximizing life’s creativity.”

To draw on Klein paraphrasing Al Gore, here’s my inconvenient truth: when you tell people what it would actually take to radically reduce carbon emissions, they turn away. They don’t want to give up air travel or air conditioning or HDTV or trips to the mall or the family car or the myriad other things that go along with consuming 5,000 or 8,000 or 12,000 watts. All the major environmental groups know this, which is why they maintain, contrary to the requirements of a 2,000-watt society, that climate change can be tackled with minimal disruption to “the American way of life.” And Klein, you have to assume, knows it too. The irony of her book is that she ends up exactly where the “warmists” do, telling a fable she hopes will do some good.

Read the full review: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/dec/04/can-climate-change-cure-capitalism

 

[Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer for The New Yorker. ?Her new book, The Sixth Extinction, was published earlier this year. (December 2014) ]

 

This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe

The following  contains excerpts from McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street | Part VII: The Wolves of Wall Street, to be published on Counterpunch.

September 15, 2014

By Cory Morningstar

Available formats: PDF | PDF – as double-sided A4 foldover booklet | EPUB

As the following information will demonstrate, The People’s Climate March and supporting discourse is about protecting capitalism, not protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from climate change.

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Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The People’s Climate March in New York City is a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront.

The oligarchs do not bankroll such a mobilization (via millions of dollars funnelled through foundations) without reason.

There is an agenda. The information that follows makes the agenda very clear and the only thing green about it is the colour of money. The term “green”, in reference to environment is, officially dead.

PURPOSE?

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”

 purpose-logoavaazlogo

 “Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than nine million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined….” [Source]

Background

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Above: Jeremy Heimans of Purpose at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference. | Photo: Taylor Davidson

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

From October 2011–October 2012 the“Managing Director of Partnerships” for Purpose was Marilia Bezerra. From 2006 to 2011 Bezerra held an integral position within the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) executive leadership. [1]

The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change. While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital.  Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

 “We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.Jeremy Heimans when asked how he was going to use the $100,000 he received from the Ford Foundation

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations, such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011), also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Purpose Action’s Board of Directors includes the former campaign director at Avaaz, Brett Solomon and brand strategist Douglas Atkin. Atkin is a Purpose Fellow and previously Partner at Purpose. He is co-founder of Yackit, Meetup Fellow, founder of The Glue Project (“Are they like me?” “Will they like me?”) and author of “The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers.” He’s helped relaunch such brands as Lipitor, Mercedes, BMW, Mastercard and many others. [Source]

“Once a brand achieves cult status, it becomes almost impossible for a competitor to dethrone it. The Culting of Brands will reveal the secrets of fierce customer identification and, most important, unbreakable loyalty.” The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers,” Amazon

Make no mistake, the Yale (for example, Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative *Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the “Avaaz boys” (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including those at the United Nations and the World Bank. Avaaz co-founder Andrea Madden works for the World Bank in Burma [Myanmar]. Her husband is Avaaz co-founder David Madden who has taken up residence in Burma. [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” – Parami website

[*Full profile on Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

One should note that in the case of many NGOs, on 990 tax forms it appears as though those at the helm are paid minimally, if at all. Rather than salaries, many founders of institutions make immense fees via consulting services where their names are not identified on 990 forms. In the case of Avaaz, co-founder Ricken Patel does take a salary (approx. $190,000.00 per year) plus consulting fees. Consulting fees must be considered the bread and butter of many “progressives” whose incomes rival CEOs of multinational corporations. The salaries and incomes are incredible when one accounts for the fact that many NGOs, such as Avaaz, rake in millions of dollars in donations from well-intentioned and hard-working citizens who are at or below the poverty line.

[Full profile of Ricken Patel: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

On the Rockefeller Foundation website under the article titled How to Scale Up the Impact? Heimans is identified as a panelist for “scaling community conservation solutions at the World Wildlife Fund’s Annual Kathryn Fuller Symposium.” (Incidentally, to illustrate the link between the faux green economy and its infusion with current consumer principles, Heimans is empanelled with an associate from retail giant, Costco Wholesale, at the symposium.) WWF’s subservience to Monsanto and the oligarchs as a whole – at a cost to vulnerable campesinos and all life on the planet – is well-documented in the eye-opening and explosive documentary  WWF – Silence of the Pandas.

The many facets of Purpose:

1) Purpose (tax identification number 68-0607622) is a for-profit certified B-corporation “that uses an innovative model to pool some of the world’s leading experts and practitioners in order to fund, launch and accelerate the growth of new social movement organizations.”

2) Purpose Action (tax identification number 45-2451509), the non-profit arm of Purpose, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization “focused on changing policy.” Purpose Action Board of Directors includes Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp! [2]

3) Purpose Foundation (tax identification number 27-3106760) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “focused on education and changing culture.” [3]

4) Purpose Campaign (tax identification number 68-0607622) “Develops social and consumer movements.”

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member“. [Further reading on The B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few,’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”

Stephanie McMillan Pupose Inc.

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan

In the video published on November 21, 2012, Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut” during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship.” He states:

“…how else could movement building and mass participation help transform society? And that’s what we’re working on at Purpose. We’re thinking at Purpose not just how you build political movements but now what are some of the insights from that, that can be used to do things like scale demand for the green economy? Right? Demand for the green economy is in a rut. There isn’t large-scale demand it. What if we tried to build a movement around that and organize people in a systematic way….”

In the following Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal and the campaign to achieve the goal is made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy,” in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

“…Well, the results of our research really have two main conclusions I want to share with you today, and the first is a little startling and it may create a little bit of a disequilibrium… and that is that I think we need to kill the language and imagery and green in order to have any real shot at scaling sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

It is worth repeating:

“Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

“So they like the idea of green, it’s kind of a value they are happy to cloak themselves in, you know it’s a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn’t there because as soon as it’s even slightly difficult they’re out the door. So what do we do? So here’s some things that I think we can do that might up-end this situation and as I said it does require starting with killing green as a friend. We can’t lead with green, because most of the green products that are out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying you know ‘We’re green, do the right thing.’ We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside.”

Heimans summarizes the methodology.

“… the answer we think is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly of the new forms of businesses that are green, but don’t knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger, we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

Heimans’ last remark is key: “If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

 

 

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Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan


Subservience to Empire and Hegemony

Disruption_New_School_Slide_2-REVISED

Above: A Disruption movie marketing poster (from The New School). “Green” is out. “New” is in. This is the strategy that is to change everything.

Clearly, the shift of emphasis is toward this “market share”. Note the following statement on the September 4, 2014 350.org press release, World Premiere of “Disruption,” New Climate Documentary with Van Jones, Chris Hayes, Naomi Klein, and More:

This is not a green issue, this is an all of us issue,” says Ricken Patel, executive director of the 38-million member civic organization, Avaaz. Avaaz is mobilizing its members around the world to take part in solidarity actions along with the march in NYC. [Emphasis added]

“Green” is out. “New” is in. This is the strategy that is to change everything.

Also from the press release:

“The world premiere of Disruption in New York City is the flagship for hundreds of screenings taking place around the country on Sunday. A panel discussion will follow the premiere.

“Panelists will include (more detail at base of email):

  • Ricken Patel – Executive Director – Avaaz.org
  • Eddie Bautista – Executive Director – New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
  • Keya Chatterjee – Director, Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach – WWF

“‘In the past, masses of people have taken the wheel of history and turned it,’ says author Naomi Klein in the film. ‘We have a responsibility to rise to our historic moment.'”

The film features Avaaz’s Ricken Patel, WWF‘s Keya Chatterjee and 350.org board member Van Jones. Note 350.org’s relentless co-opting of the civil rights movement leaders, who are utilized to market their campaigns at the beginning of the trailer. It is somewhat fitting is that at 12 seconds in CIA’s Gloria Steinem is featured. The trailer and film seeks to inspire the global mobilizations that Purpose has been funded to create.

It is incredible (as in, difficult to believe) that today’s biggest shills for the Empire of the 21st century double as the iconic symbols of progressive change and activism for the so-called left. Aldous Huxley often expressed a deep concern that citizens could become subjugated via refined use of the mass media. His fears were most prophetic. There is little doubt that if he were alive today, even he would be taken aback by the sheer “success” and madness of it. [Further reading: On the Eve of an Illegal Attack on Syria, Avaaz/350.org Board Members Beat the Drums of War]

Citizens who claim they wish to protect our shared environment must educate themselves on the role of foundation funding and the key NGOs (350.org, Avaaz, Purpose, WWF, etc.) being heavily financed to implement the illusory green new economy. Joan Roeloff’s exceptional book, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, is a good place to start. If we are unwilling to do this work collectively, perhaps we deserve everything the oligarchs are designing for us and intend for us in the future. There will be tears.

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right to access clean water, and turn it into a commodity market that the public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Anand Shah, CEO of Sarvajal, an initiative by the Piramal Foundation to find mass-market solutions to India’s water crisis. “They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20 % of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim ‘we have a water ATM.'” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right, rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. One must note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.

 

“Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting ‘new economy’ products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee.” – The Economist, The business of campaigning, Profit with Purpose, Jan 26, 2013

 

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

What you are about to witness is the global mobilization of “consumers” to be ushered into the green economy, without SAYING it is the green economy. The climate parade in NYC, coinciding with the release of 350’s Naomi Klein’s new book, is the launching pad.

The kings and queens of hegemony have rolled the dice and placed their bets on Avaaz, 350.org and Naomi Klein (350.org board member) to usher in the illusory green economy under the guise of a so-called “new economy.” Their winning bet is that author Naomi Klein’s latest book will be the vehicle that ignites their new economy, and thus “changes everything.”

It is not by accident that foundation-financed “progressive” media and those within the non-profit industrial complex are heavily promoting Klein’s upcoming book release with multiple side events. It is not by accident that Avaaz’s latest petition titled The Global People’s Climate March has strategically modified the This Changes Everything book title to “Join to Change Everything” and “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Note the similar language employed by WWF: “To change everything, we need everyone.”

The tragedy is that Americans appear incapable of building a legitimate movement on a foundation of knowledge and disciplined, resolute minimalism. There is no better example of this than the lifestyle of former left-wing guerrilla and current president of Uruguay, José Mujica. Rather, as a culture cultivated on greed and individualism, we swallow the illusion (lie) that the only way out of our suicidal economic system is through more consumption – with consumption this time around being branded with an ethical veneer. It’s as though consumption has devoured our psyche and we are unable to escape it. Like sadistic prisoners of our own doing, we have trapped ourselves in a cage as “consumers” (the term Purpose Inc. uses for citizens) and have chosen to throw away the key.

The goal must be to weaken and sabotage the existing power structures until they collapse. When we lend our voices to the non-profit industrial complex, by extension we strengthen hegemony, capitalism and imperialism, ensuring our continued enslavement and, ensuring the annihilation of most all life on our shared planet.

We need to start thinking, stop consuming, and start living.

+++

 

The Behavioural Change Dream Team:

·         Full profile of Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of David Madden: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of James Slezak: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III [link]

Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Endnotes:

[1] As Clinton Global Initiative director of commitments, Bezerra led the redesign of member engagement and commitments services into a year-round operation. From 2007 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of sponsorship manager of the Clinton Global Initiative where she directly managed five major sponsorship accounts, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Procter & Gamble, valued at over $2 million dollars. From 2006 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of Commitment Development Senior Manager for the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2009, Bezerra was Deputy Director of Commitments for the Clinton Global Initiative. Bezerra took a central role in building the Clinton Global Initiative from its start-up. The Clinton Global Initiative was integral to the creation and funding of the Rockefellers’ incubator project 1Sky, now merged with 350.org (which was also integral to the creation of 1Sky). The CGI is a partner to 350.org/1Sky. Bill Clinton is recognized as a notable ally.

Bezerra is the CEO and Founder of Aldeia Works, board member of Breakthrough and serves as an advisor to Inspiring Capital. In New York, Bezerra also served as the business and financial manager for AEA Consulting, “a management consulting company with a client base of leading nonprofit cultural organizations throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Bezerra is a board member of Rhize, (March, 2014 to present; http://www.rhize.org/) whose stated mission is “building a global community driving peoplepowered democracy around the world.” She also serves on the board of Atikus Insurance (January 2014 to present; http://www.atikusinsurance.com/) and as a “Strike Team Member” of the ForeSight Group.

[2] Purpose Action Board of Directors: Jon Huggett, founding chair of Social Innovation Exchange, former partner at The Bridgespan Group and Bain & Company; Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org and former senior director of media programs at GLAAD; Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp!; Douglas Atkin, director of community at Airbnb, former chief community officer of Meetup, author of The Culting of Brands; Andre Banks, executive director of Purpose Foundation, former strategy director at Purpose and former deputy director of ColorOfChange.org; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp! [Source]

[3] Purpose Foundation Board of Directors: Carla Sutherland, research scholar at Columbia University’s Gender and Sexuality Law Center’s Engaging Tradition Project, former program officer at Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp!; Michael Evans, president of Moynihan Station Development Corporation and former chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor of New York State. [Source]| Purpose Foundation’s organizational documents and annual reports on Form 990 can be found here.

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VI of an Investigative Report] [A Glimpse of Truth in a Sea of Liars]

The Art of Annihilation

September 9, 2014

Part six of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

 

Revolving Doors | Interlocking Directorate

Prior to her role of Ceres President, Mindy Lubber held various high level positions in government, financial services and the not-for-profit sector. In 1995 Lubber worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a senior policy advisor. In 2000 Lubber was named regional administrator under President Bill Clinton. Lubber was the founder, president and CEO of Green Century Capital Management and served as president of the National Environmental Law Center.

The Ceres well-oiled revolving doors glide seamlessly and effortlessly. Green “progressives” who share the Ceres climbing ladder include Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350.org, Nina Berger of 350.org and many more on the Ceres Board of Directors (as discussed prior, within this report).

Betsy Taylor (Ceres Board Member 2002-2009) is president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions. Taylor was a key player in the creation of Rockefeller’s incubator project, 1Sky, which officially merged with 350.org in 2011. Taylor continues to serve on the Board of Directors of 1Sky/350.org. As president of the Center for a New American Dream from 2002-2007, Taylor was present on the Ceres board of directors from 2002-2009, serving as chair in 2005 and 2006.

Nina Birger (Ceres Associate, Foundations, Development) interned with 350.org Massachusetts. Birger joined Ceres in 2012 as an Associate in Development. Somewhat ironically, in this role, Birger writes foundation reports and proposals, manages grants, and oversees foundation relationships.

The Earth Day Network global advisory committee is an excellent example of how America’s disturbing preoccupation and obsession with celebrity worship can easily cloud and make irrelevant what constitutes legitimate environmentalism. This particular global advisory committee includes individuals such as Bill McKibben, Ceres Mindy Lubber, Shaquille O’Neal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and many other US-manufactured and falsely glorified “celebrities.”

The professional “activists” are mostly all one big clique going back decades. For example, Taylor was doling out foundation funding decades ago. Obedient foot soldiers like Taylor rise to a level where they both receive funding and distribute it. They are the “strategists” trusted by funders to chart a course, to spend money and to anoint others to receive it. As a second example, McKibben has long had a deep friendship and camaraderie with Harriet Barlow, who doles out money for Adam Hochschild (HKH Foundation) and has done so for the last four decades. HKH Foundation grants funds to 1Sky/350.org. As a third example, Donald K. Ross started the PIRGs for Ralph Nader. Since the 1960’s, Nader has fought harder for consumer advocacy/protection than perhaps any other single person in America. Today, Ross has his own businesses in PR and online organizing. He was the chair of Greenpeace when the organization was under the direction of John Passacantando. During this time, Ross distributed many, many millions in Rockefeller money, etc.

One can best describe the liberal funding and professional activist circles as interlocking social and business circles. Those found within this circuit go back decades, working together in a myriad of ways. It’s very similar to a country club. The concept is known as an interlocking directorate, defined as the linkages among corporations created by individuals who sit on two or more corporate boards.

Obama Throws McKibben a Bone for Good Behaviour & Obedience

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Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

On July 8, 2013, the New York Times published an article titled Old Tactic in New Climate Campaign. The article centred on a lecture by President Obama who had spoken about climate change at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013. Within this advertisement article, the New York Time’s intent of highlighting the divestment campaign is no more subtle than a Marlboro cigarette ad promoting the commodified essence of cool. The portrayal of Obama as a noble president and leader delivering “crypto-radical” covert messages is beyond nauseating:

“It was a single word tucked into a presidential speech. It went by so fast that most Americans probably never heard it, much less took the time to wonder what it meant. But to certain young ears, the word had the shock value of a rifle shot. The reference occurred late in President Obama‘s climate speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, in the middle of this peroration: “Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.” That injunction to “divest” was, pretty clearly, a signal to the thousands of college students who have been manning the barricades for nearly a year now, urging their colleges to rid their endowments of stock in fossil-fuel companies as a way of forcing climate change higher on the national political agenda.

“‘The president of the United States knows we exist, and he likes what we’re doing,’ Marissa Solomon of the University of Michigan wrote soon after. Other students recounted leaping to their feet or nearly falling off their chairs when the president uttered the word. Chris Hayes, the host of a program on MSNBC who is young enough and smart enough to have caught the reference instantly, said on Twitter that “‘invest, divest’ is the most crypto-radical line the president has ever uttered.”

“Maybe it should come as no great surprise, though. Divestment as a tactic for social change holds a fond place in Barack Obama’s memory. Mr. Obama’s first foray into politics, as a student at Occidental College in the early 1980s, was in support of demands that the trustees divest from the stocks of companies doing business in South Africa under apartheid. In what he later called a piece of street theater, he was dragged off stage by two white students dressed up as oppressive Afrikaners. (He transferred to Columbia in 1981.) The White House is not elaborating on what the president meant at Georgetown by “divest,” but the smoke signals seem to suggest that he sees direct parallels between the movement of the 1980s and the one today…. Indeed, one way to read Mr. Obama’s speech is as a plea for help. He knows that if he is to get serious climate policies on the books before his term ends in 2017, he needs a mass political movement pushing for stronger action. No broad movement has materialized in the United States; 350.org and its student activists are the closest thing so far, which may be why Mr. Obama gazes fondly in their direction.”

Money simply can’t buy this type of false advertising and false hope that preys upon and manipulates the naïve. It is critical to understand that the divestment campaign is not a grassroots campaign. Rather, it is a choice vehicle to usher in and make palatable the illusory green economy (now being marketed/branded as the “new economy”), at a global scale: designed by Wall Street, made in the USA.

Illusory Green Economy = Guilt Free Consumerism

Over and over again we can observe Ceres member organizations and Ceres Board of Directors members working together in united cohesiveness to “normalize” and promote the illusory green economy with “progressive” media echoing the repetitive messaging through the chambers. Consider the following:

“Consider this post a love letter of sorts. Last week I was at the Ceres conference where environmentalists, investors and corporations meet to discuss ways to work together to protect the environment…But before all that, back to my new love … Step It Up 2007 which was all the talk at Ceres.” — May 4, 2007

“Credit Card Charges Include Carbon Offset ‘Reward’ For $1,000 Spent, About 1 Ton of Carbon…Brighter Planet touts its environmental credibility. Its advisory board includes Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Bill McKibben, prominent environmental author and activist; and Gus Speth, dean of the Yale Forestry School and co-founder of the World Resources Institute and the National Resources Defense Council.” — Nov 29, 2007 [Note that all the aforementioned orgs are represented on Ceres Board of Directors with both McKibben and Speth affiliated with 350.org (founder of 350.org and US advisory council respectively).]

 

“British news website BusinessGreen reports the group, which includes high profile campaigners such as 350.org’s Bill McKibben, Mindy Lubber of sustainable investment group Ceres, and Friends of the Earth’s Erich Pica, praises Mr Obama’s assertion during the election campaign that ‘climate change is not a hoax.'” – Jan 9, 2013 [Note that Friends of the Earth has also been a key org. and are represented on Ceres Board of Directors]

Round and round we go. On the “Distinguished Advisory Board” of the Better Future Project, we can again find both McKibben and Massie with other “prestigious progressives” such as Junko Yoda, Managing Director, Shellingford Ltd.; former Asia Regional Treasurer, Deutsche Bank; former Vice President, Goldman Sachs.

Ceres “Principles”

“Corporate social responsibility remains businessmen’s preferred response to threats to corporate power.” — Neil Mitchell, The Generous Corporation: A Political Analysis of Economic Power (Yale University Press, 1989), pp.143-4

Ceres created a high-gloss veneer of legitimacy by creating “principles” to establish a said environmental ethic with criteria by which investors and others can assess the environmental performance of corporations. Corporations that endorse the Ceres principles pledge to go voluntarily beyond existing legislation. The small print, that the general populace is not meant to read, is as follows:

“The terms may and might in Principles one and eight are not meant to encompass every imaginable consequence, no matter how remote. Rather, these Principles obligate endorsers to behave as prudent persons who are not governed by conflicting interests and who possess a strong commitment to environmental excellence and to human health and safety. These Principles are not intended to create new legal liabilities, expand existing rights or obligations, waive legal defenses, or otherwise affect the legal position of any endorsing company, and are not intended to be used against an endorser in any legal proceeding for any purpose.”

Yet, in reality, the endorsers are “governed by conflicting interests” and any set of principles, no matter how much better, moral or safer they allow us to feel, will not make this fact any less so.

The “Ceres Principles” are comprised of the following: 1) PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE, 2) SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 3) REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES, 4) ENERGY CONSERVATION, 5) RISK REDUCTION, 6) SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, 7) ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION, 8) INFORMING THE PUBLIC, 9) MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT and 10) AUDITS AND REPORTS. [1]

Twenty-six Years Later: How to Measure the “Success” of the Valdez/Ceres Principles

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co2_trend_mlo

Above graphs: Monthly mean atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii [2] The red line represents the summer (lower, because all the greenery of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer takes up/absorbs so much CO2) and winter (higher, because the leaves are gone in the NH’s winter) CO2 levels. The black line represents the mean between the two. Note that even in such a short timeframe, one can observe the trend of exponential growth in CO2 concentrations (note: not emissions).

It is a bitter irony that the year 1987 would be the last time industrial civilization witnessed CO2 concentrations below 350 ppm (at Mauna Loa Observatory). The irony arises from the fact that Ceres was founded in 1989. Only in a world gone mad could an organization continue to boast success, voluntarily led by the world’s most powerful and destructive corporations, while simultaneously, emissions have been increasing faster than ever witnessed before. The fact is, the more “successful” Ceres has become, the more emissions and concentrations have continued to soar.

Global emissions have skyrocketed to an increase of approximately 40% since 1992. The BP oil spill has decimated the Gulf of Mexico. The Fukushima disaster (of which the media black-out continues) has contaminated the oceans with radiation. One could spend years citing incidents and facts that tell us unequivocally that these “principles,” launched 24 years ago, have not done a damn thing to protect Earth or life. As we sit on the precipice of complete ecological collapse and the probable eradication of our species, one can safely say in no uncertain terms that these principles have been an unprecedented EPIC FAIL. The “promise” to reduce, and where possible, eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards and promised disclosure of “potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations” is enough to make one put a gun to their own temple.

The only area where “success” has been achieved is in risk reduction – risk reduction for the corporation, that is. Exemption of liability is expanding for the corporate model with the pharmaceutical industry leading the way. In stark contrast, the environmental, health and safety risks to communities and the families within them have never been greater. The corporatocracy ensures that the corporation, defined by law as a legal person, is fully protected, as the living and breathing citizen and all other life forms/living systems are further exploited and decimated. All the “sustainability” reporting in the world will not make this fact any less so.

In the 1992 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Why Corporations Should Adopt the Valdez Principles, the many corporate advantages are outlined with refreshing clarity:

“There are four main advantages to a corporation that agrees to adopt the Valdez Principles. First is the positive publicity that substantially could help a corporation’s image in the eyes of its shareholders and consumers in this age of ‘green consumerism.’

 

“Second, corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.

 

“Third, corporations that voluntarily strengthen their environmental standards may avoid financially devastating environmental disasters.

 

“The fourth advantage to corporations adopting the Valdez Principles is favorable investment in that corporation by CERES members.

 

“Another factor that may encourage corporations to sign on to the Valdez Principles is the political, economic and media clout of the sponsor. Among CERES members are some of the country’s most influential environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the National Audubon Society, which collectively claim ten million members. [Emphasis added]

 

“Potential lost profits from boycotts, possible loss of investment money, and the public relations nightmare of dealing with negative publicity generated by CERES are problems that a company could avoid by voluntarily signing on to the Valdez Principles.

 

“Consumers often use the projected environmental image of a company to make decisions on what products to buy. This is the concept of ‘green consumerism.’ While some downplay this phenomenon as merely an attempt by the marketing industry to use a novel approach to sell the same products found on store shelves for years, a recent survey discovered that a large majority of consumers polled would be willing to pay more for products they viewed as environmentally responsible.”

As an example of how these principles created a discourse that allowed corporations to continue to “sustainably” plunder and “ethically” exploit, under a luminous green patina, we need to look no further than the second advantage as outlined above: “corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.” It is not by accident that for decades the global citizenry, with a focus on children via the standard educational curriculum, has focused on the “three R’s.” We all know them by heart: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The obvious word, which one can safely assume was purposely excluded, was/is “Rethink.”

The fact is, to nourish critical thinking in our youth would be to severely jeopardize today’s corporate capture in the future. Conditioned to accept a status quo “solution” like recycling, almost everyone has neglected to critically examine the root cause – which is the production of the waste in the first place. Not spoken of are real solutions such as cradle to cradle life cycle analysis and zero waste/zero emissions (ZERI) concept principles, coupled with legislation, principled and radical conservation, and ethical intelligence that would demand that we achieve zero waste. Rather, we are told to recycle. If we comply, we are as celebrated eco-citizens. Yet, even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to a mere 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. [3]

It is worth repeating this last fact: Even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to only 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. This is what happens when you have the world’s largest waste management system (Waste Management, Inc) financing and partnering with big greens, such as big oil’s WWF (which was founded by Shell and Rockefeller), and with organizations (and benefactors of the profit from waste) such as Ceres to highlight such societal failure as “success.” Of course, only if we evolve to a level of enlightenment where we are able to separate our wants from our needs while flat out rejecting consumerism and all forms of industrialized capitalism, even meticulously critiqued production will fail us.

The “Ceres 20•20” is the nonprofit vision for achieving a sustainable global economy by 2020. The plan has four key pillars: honest accounting, higher standards, scalable solutions and new policies. To suggest these voluntary pleasantries could possibly achieve a “sustainable global economy” by 2020 as the Earth continues to cross planetary tipping points is beyond delusional. It is madness.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese chief negotiator of the G77, represented a glimpse of truth in a sea of liars when he stated the following at COP15: “… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society – you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments…. Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].” [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Whitism

Pension funds benefit only a tiny minority of the world’s people. Consider that Canada’s first Old Age Pensions Act was not passed until 1927. Now consider that 90% of the world is excluded from old age pension schemes. Coverage and effectiveness of existing social protection schemes for retirement, invalidity and death in Africa – the richest continent in terms of natural resources – is weak in general, with few exceptions, due to imperialism and colonialism, which continue to destroy Africa and her people to this day.

But rather than dismantle the systems that keep such disparities and horrific conflicts intact, we instead ask our youth to focus on ensuring we keep the wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of others, many who live unbearably. Now consider on top of these gross injustices and inequalities the fact that this same minority (those who own the investments and pension funds) are the very ones creating the climate crisis. How many 350.org supporters understand that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population? [Source: page 77, Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)]

One could legitimately argue that with over 7 billion people on the planet, only this 1-25% of global populace has the capacity to slow down global warming – as they are the very ones creating it. This is true. And yet a critical distinction must be made: to simply move money from direct ownership of fossil fuel investments over to a “green” Wall Street portfolio is to essentially do nothing. It’s merely another empty gesture to be glorified by media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex. One that can easily be compared to the false solution of offsets – essentially little more than a green-sanctioned licence to continue polluting and destroying ecosystems, while simultaneously exploiting the world’s most vulnerable, in the rapid race to convert all natural resources, blood and sweat into capital. Far from calling these what they are – crimes against humanity and cultural acquiescence to global-scale progenycide – our society recognizes this as just another day on the New York Stock Exchange.

There is one message that the divestment campaign will never encourage: that all global citizens must sell all their shares in the corporations of the elites, redirecting the funds into simple collectives/co-operatives, with the intention of starving corporate power and domination into submission, with the ultimate goal being the dismantling of the existing power structures in their entirety. While it is true that powerful banks will be delighted to acquire these shares (only as long as consumer demand ensures continued growth), as author Jay Taber suggests, banks too can be brought to their knees and destroyed when citizens are united in their efforts in a global context. The system is not invincible. Yet, who would fund such a campaign/movement when it promises the most severe consequences and harsh repercussions for the victors (particularly harsh for the 1% creating 50% of the world’s emissions), even if the shared goal is a livable planet for tomorrow. Furthermore, why would citizens embrace a disciplined minimalist existence when the non-profit industrial complex promises everything and more via more energy (indeed “green” energy and biofuels), electric cars and “clean” aviation? (Promises targeting only those with privilege please note.) Such a movement is obviously of no use whatsoever to global elites who invest billions in the non-profit industrial complex. Rather, such a movement with lofty yet essential aspirations would represent a very real and direct threat to the hegemony that exists, which explains why such desperately needed aspirations, which inspire legitimate movements, will never be funded.

“There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period…” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

We refrain from looking at our reflection in the mirror to confront the truth in all its ugliness. Collectively, we throw our own children onto the altar, sacrificing them to the gods of Apathy, Gluttony and Consumption. In return, we are “blessed” with cell phones, electronics and air mile rewards. The ideology of heaven is replaced with grandeur delusions of renewable energy (for the privileged) in magnificent abundance, yet another industry full of promise for infinite growth and refinement – now presented under the auspices of a much kinder, so-called “green economy” or “new economy” (as our ecosystems continue to collapse). The fact that high tech business finances genocide, displaces Indigenous Peoples, and decimates the very life systems upon which we depend is simply unfortunate collateral damage for the things we deserve and must have. “After the Holocaust, the world united behind two simple words: Never Again. These words represent a promise to past and future generations that we will do everything we can to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated.” Yet when it comes to Euro-American privilege, it has been clearly demonstrated that, collectively, we are more than willing to walk over and ignore the bodies of the dead in order to have what we want – especially when those dead bodies happen to be black.

 

Next: Part VII

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[2] Graph: The carbon dioxide data (red curve), measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Keeling, 1976]. NOAA started its own CO2 measurements in May of 1974, and they have run in parallel with those made by Scripps since then [Thoning, 1989]. The black curve represents the seasonally corrected data. Data are reported as a dry mole fraction defined as the number of molecules of carbon dioxide divided by the number of molecules of dry air multiplied by one million (ppm). [Source]

[3] C & J Plant (1991). Green business: Hope or hoax. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part V of an Investigative Report] [A Thinking Person’s Nightmare]

The Art of Annihilation

September 4, 2014

Part five of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

Land Grabs, Green Illusions, and Privatization of Forests

As one example (of hundreds) of land grabs under the guise of conservation carried out by NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex, in December of 2011 Kenya’s Samburu people were violently evicted. The eviction occurred following the”purchase” of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The two US “conservation” NGOs “gifted” the Samburu’s 17,100 acres of ancestral lands to Kenya’s government (November 2011) in order to create a national park to be run by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

In the above video (1:58) Nakuru Lemiruni sends a message to those responsible for evicting the Samburu tribe from their land. AWF, using funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), claimed they purchased the land with the understanding that no one resided on it. When the Samburu protested and took legal action, the land was swiftly “gifted” to the government. Police officers carried out the vicious eviction/attack on a Friday market day, when the men were away, leaving women, elders and children alone in their homes. Fanning out across the 17,000-acre Eland Downs Ranch, the police burned the Samburu families’ homes to the ground, along with all their possessions. Identified in the Kenyan media as “squatters,” the evicted Samburu families then petitioned a regional court to recognize their ancestral claims to the land where they lived and grazed their cattle. The suit has been filed by the Samburu against the AWF and the former President. [Source]

Pension funds began investing in commodities (including food and farmland) only recently.Capital allocated to agriculture investment grew from approximately $6 billion in 2001 to $320 billion in 2011, with hedge funds accounting for a further $100 billion. In 2011, investors expected these numbers to double within a few years. By the end of 2012, this figure rose from $320 to $428 billion. [Source]

“Farmland values across the globe between 2002 and 2010 have risen up to 1,800%, according to the Global Farmland Index compiled by U.K.-based real estate firm Savil. The biggest upswings have been in emerging markets, such as Romania and Hungary.” Global farmland offers potential for asset deals, Sept 26, 2013

The broad gains in commodity markets seen during recent years – dubbed the commodity “super cycle” – have taken a hit in 2013. It was Calpers (California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Ceres Board Member, partner) that helped pioneer pension funds’ foray into indexes that track wheat, energy, metal and other commodities. The money flooded in from big institutions (pension funds and college endowments), turning the market on its head. Economists blamed these new “index speculators,” who had no stake in the underlying commodities, for creating a volatile market. [Source] As of August 2013, the funds decreased from $428 million (2012) to $363 million (Barclays).

Yet not all “commodities” are created equal.

“Timber has attracted $60 billion of institutional money, or almost double that of agriculture, as governments and mills sold “sizable” assets, he said. The lumber market is valued at $425 billion…” Bloomberg, Dec 5, 2012

 

“Farmland has become the darling of alternative investing, sending hedge funds and wealthy investors into bidding wars for plots of land once deemed ordinary. And it is not just big money getting in on the game. From Stockholm to Chicago to Vancouver, ordinary investor money is pouring into fields around the world.” – BBC Capital, June 6, 2013

 

“According to numerous surveys within the industry, pension fund managers are seeking to invest in farmland – a new asset class offering annual returns of 10–20% – as never before.” June 20, 2011, Grain, Pension funds: key players in the global farmland grab

Included in such “green” portfolios will be massive land grabs and the appropriation of natural resources under the guise of conservation. “Sustainable” plantations (biomass/biofuels/agrofuels; feed for industrialized livestock), REDD+, Carbon Development Mechanisms (CDM) and so-called carbon sink projects comprise a green façade to justify the long-term objective of acquiring control of communally owned territory in the global South. In the long term, the goal is unbridled corporate capture of fertile land with access to cheap and plentiful water and labour, for producing export food crops that will deliver guaranteed high profits. Geo-engineering will place a further emphasis on food gentrification and large-scale monoculture industrial plantations – undoubtedly playing a pivotal and leading role in the accelerating obliteration of Earth’s natural biodiversity. Sovereign nations, peasants, farmers, campesinos, Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures will be annihilated in the process – a feat of 21st century corporate colonialism.

 “Farmland investments are particularly attractive as prices are supported by solid long-term fundamentals that have little to do with the performance of traditional assets such as equities. In the long-term, farmland values rise as demand for food weighs against a limited supply of good quality land, with farmland prices having been shown to rise in line with population growth and economic expansion in developing nations. This effectively generates a return on investment in the long term, regardless of the performance of the wider economy.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

 

“They see in farmland what they call good ‘fundamentals’: a clear economic pattern of supply and demand, which in this case hinges on a rising world population needing to be fed, and the resources to feed these people being finite.” — Pension funds: key players in the global farmland grab, June 20, 2011

 

“Of a total $23 trillion of asset under management within the pension fund space, around $100 billion is believed to be invested in commodities, of which between $5 billion and $15 billion is invested directly into farmland investments. A majority of analysts project that institutional investments in farmland and commodities are expected to double by 2015.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

 

“The Global AgInvesting Conference hosted at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan in June attracted some 600 institutional investors representing agriculture investment assets under management of almost $11 billion, and with plans to expand those holdings to almost $20 billion by 2014, a rise of almost 70%. Over 200 attendees were from the pension fund sector, and the majority intend to invest in farmland as the mainstay of their agricultural investment strategy.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

According to Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management, agricultural land represents an $8.4 trillion market, of which institutional investors currently own approximately $30-$40 billion. This represents a fragment of the (monetary) value of farmland globally, estimated at about $8.4 trillion. Key regions targeted include Brazil and Argentina. Thus far, only 6 percent of institutional investment in primary agriculture has been in Africa due to geopolitical barriers. Yet, it is critical to note that investors perceive Africa as “having the most scope to open new areas of arable farmland.” [Institutions are blazing a trail in CIS farming, December 2, 2013, Source]

An industrialized economic system that voraciously consumes Earth’s natural resources, with zero regard toEarth’s replenishing cycles/laws of nature, ensures that agriculture is one clear and unmistakable source of pay-off for institutional investors. The new surge in money will push up global food prices (as we have already witnessed), hitting hardest those most vulnerable. As an example of investment driving up the market, food costs in 2012 came within 10 percent of the record set in February 2011 (United Nations Food Price Index). According to the World Bank, it is estimated that global food production will need to rise 70 percent to feed an additional 2 billion people on the planet. This will be a most miraculous attainment considering that as global temperatures increase beyond any temperature witnessed during the Holocene, agricultural yields will only further decline. Translation: food will be afforded, more and more, only by the wealthy.

“I see a massive change in agriculture coming … the returns on land over the long term equate to those received over the last 500 years by royal families… as food scarcity issues are likely to arise in the future, such land will rise in value too.” — Laguna Bay Pastoral chief executive Tim McGavin, Nov 18, 2013

Farmer loses farm. Investor or corporation now leases out farm (as well as related farming and irrigation infrastructure). Farmer now rents farm, etc. from investor or corporation while “the returns on land over the long term equate to those received over the last 500 years by royal families”.

Welcome to 21st century agro-colonialism.

And although Friends of the Earth knows full well that divestment does not address the finance of land-grabs (view Friends of the Earth endorsement in the civil society statementon the finance of land grabs, June 2012: Land grabbing by pension funds and other financial institutions must be stopped),they make no mention of it when promoting (one example) the divestment campaign led by 350.org.

 “Pension funds are, at present, reported to be the largest institutional ‘investors’ in farmland worldwide. Yet the money used here is workers’ retirement savings. This means that wage earners and citizens may be implicated in massive violations of the human rights of local farming communities, including their rights to food, land, water, an adequate standard of living, their cultural rights and their right to self-determination – in breach of international law.” — Friends of The Earth Press Release, June 2012

More and more tragedies involve land grabbing, which is happening at an unprecedented rate all over the planet under the guise of “conservation” and “green economy.” For example, Hundreds Left Homeless in Olkaria Eviction in Kenya due to a large-scale geothermal project that has attracted both multinational and bilateral donors, with the World Bank being the main financier of the project. (Another video of the July 26, 2013 attack on the Maasai village in Olkaria is here). The short documentary film, Seeds of Discontent, exposes how a Swedish investment firm, Dutch pension fund and Norwegian church endowment actively engaged in land grabbing in Mozambique.

In Canada, the Algonquin people are fighting threats to land and water from an open-pit mining project for hybrid car batteries. Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation, plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of the Kipawa First Nation. Rare earths are a group of 17 elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are used to produce electronics for cell phones, wind turbines, and car batteries. Rare earths are notorious for their environmentally costly extraction process, with over 90 per cent of the mined raw materials classified as waste. [Source: Toyota Prius Not So Green After All]

Welcome to the “green economy”: classist, racist and utterly disgusting.

Yet another example in Canada, the Alberta Conservation Association is just one of thousands of NGOs working with corporations (in this case Shell, Suncor, the Canadian Government – see partners below) to commodify Earth’s last remaining resources under the guise/greenwash of conservation. The newly acquired and named “Shell Forests” are just a few examples.

As with the Keystone XL oil pipeline campaign, one is wise to watch the stock market in order to gain a sense of where the economic growth is expected to boom. In addition to both Warren Buffett’s and Bill Gates’s fairly recent stock acquisitions (in addition to their newly acquired/built rail empire) of John Deere and GMO crops, amidst the global rush to control the planet’s water, Buffett has been “loading up on the agricultural giant” Archer Daniels Midland (a focus on soybeans and ethanolFebruary 20, 2013) while eyeing farmland in Africa with plans to expandMonsanto’s biotechnology for “drought-tolerant corn” onto the Saharan landscapes.

 “Brazil’s agricultural sector remains one of the most exciting markets around. Don’t take our word for it. George Soros, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, all major investors and farmers in the Bahia region of Brazil, believe Brazil to be the best location for their alternative investments…. The buzz around Brazilian farmland has sparked interest from a wide range of different institutions, from hedge funds to private investors, pension funds and even foreign government entities from China, India, Europe and Africa have been making agricultural land enquiries within Brazil.” — Brazil’s Farmland is Still Ripe for Investment, March 18, 2013

In stark contrast, what lies beyond “modern” industrialized agriculture mirrors what we left behind in our collective past – a simple, nourishing work and respect of the soil, the land, the plant, the crop. In fact, millions of farmers are already advancing agriculture for themselves utilizing the same methods that have worked to feed humans for the past 10,000 years. [Source]

There has been a steady, building backlash against pension funds investing in massive land grabs (that have increased and continue to increase food prices, displace peasant farmers, and increase poverty and hunger). Because of this backlash, pension funds have been “afraid to go into the field alone, and they want to spread their bet or their risk by having partners join them.” In some societies not yet absorbed into the (pathological and insane) industrialized western mindset, land is sacred and the sale of land in some societies is not acceptable. [March 6, 2013, Pension funds join forces to invest in farmland. Source]

A Future of Unprecedented Coups

Ukraine, the most recent state to fall to a US-backed coup, was/is not only coveted for strategic geographic/geopolitical position (aka control of oil/gas), but also for its rich black soil. Soil is the new oil of the 21st century. “Ukraine, formerly the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, is now a major crop producer for the world market. The country has over 32 million hectares (ha) of arable land, which is equivalent to roughly one third of the arable land in the entire European Union (EU). Its location on the Black Sea and its fertile black soil – it possesses 25 percent of the world’s so-called Chernozem – make Ukraine attractive to agricultural producers and investors. Moreover, agriculture is now considered as a main business opportunity in the Black Earth (Invest Ukraine, 2011).”Oligarchs and transnational capital have taken over the land with their share in the GDP at 42.3 percent, against 5 percent for farmers (Ministry of Agriculture, 2012). [Source]

Environmental Colonialism | So-called “Conservation”

“It is no secret that millions of native people around the world have been forced off their homelands to make way for oil, mines, timber, and agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a cause which is considered by many as much nobler: land and wildlife conservation. Indigenous peoples evicted from their ancestral homelands, for conservation initiatives, have never been counted; they are not even officially recognised as refugees. The number of people displaced from their traditional homelands is estimated to be close to 20 million – 14 million in Africa alone. These expelled native peoples have been living sustainably for generations on what can only be reasonably regarded as their ancestral land.” [Watch: Conservation Refugees – Expelled from Paradise (24:18)

One NGO at the helm of stealth land grab ventures is Conservation International. Since its inception in 1987, Conservation International has continued to use “its considerable financial resources, political influence and environmental sweet talk to quietly access, administer and buy biodiverse areas throughout the world and put them at the disposal of transnational corporations.” [Conservation International: privatizing nature, plundering biodiversity, October 2003] Not to be lost is the fact that Conservation International has utilized the same soft power strategies in their ecotourism ventures (also dependent on Indigenous knowledge/peoples) as they have in their land/big pharma exploits in partnership with Monsanto and Novartis. [Further reading: Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part I of an Investigative Report]

 “REDD+ is driven by profit interests and is structured to allow polluters to continue polluting while increasing profits and enclosing lands.” — A colonial mechanism to enclose lands: A critical review of two REDD+-focused special issues, Joanna Cabello and Tamra Gilbertson, June 12, 2012

21st century market-based climate mitigation strategies are merely business opportunities to further corporate power. By normalizing such opportunistic exploitation, rather than exposing/rejecting it, one is complicit in promoting, thus prolonging, the dominant development model that is unjust, unethical, genocidal and ultimately, suicidal. The WWF certification schemes are but one set of such false solutions and green illusions. At present, WWF et al are waiting for the windfall that is slowly beginning to come into fruition under the much sought-after market mechanism REDD (which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

It must be understood that REDD will not mitigate further ecological degradation and collapse (under the guise of so-called conservation). Rather, REDD will only serve to further strengthen corporate power as well as gained access and control of the Earth’s last remaining forests.

“This is an effort to address the varying assumptions from the academic journals – that REDD+ can be fixed with more governance, finance and/or community engagement – through a critique of the wider neoliberal climate regime, issues of ‘governance’ as an unproblematised category, and by exploring, from de-colonialist and environmental justice perspectives, the issues of real participation and sustainability. We conclude that REDD+ is framed within an epistemological understanding of forests and lands which supports the domination of nature by humans for economic profit, regardless of financial input, governance and/or participation from communities, and therefore will not be a successful means of climate mitigation or forest protection.” — A colonial mechanism to enclose lands: A critical review of two REDD+-focused special issues, Joanna Cabello and Tamra Gilbertson, June 12, 2012 [Emphasis added]

[Further reading on REDD: Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part II]

Millions of hectares of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia have been grossly and violently exploited. Cleared for palm oil (to manufacture processed foods for the wealthy states plagued with obesity), the palm oil plantations have destroyed whole communities, cultures, and thriving living ecosystems along with the flourishing wildlife within them. The degradation and pillage that have resulted are so severe that palm oil investors are now turning to the west coast of Africa as the industry’s next frontier. A recent forest burning in Sumatra resulted in one of Southeast Asia’s worst air-pollution crises in history, blanketing neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with record levels of smog. As a result, in May 2013 Indonesia extended a moratorium on the issuance of new plantation and timber concessions in primary forests and peatland. Desperate to ensure growth of the vile industry, Norway has agreed to provide the country with up to $1 billion in financing to “help reduce deforestation.” [Source]

Everything Changes. Everything Stays the Same | Green Colonialism and Forest Policies in South India, 1800-1900

“Going green” has become a popular slogan in the discourse of environmental conservation, and one that has been gaining wider popularity as global warming begins to threaten the very existence of the biotic world. The global environmental crisis has created a context in which the protection of forests has become a top priority in environmental conservation strategies. The preservationist and restorationist discourses advocate forest conservation as a means to save the Earth from environmental disaster. However, in spite of this strong emphasis on the preservation of forests, their destruction continues. In most of the present-day developing countries of Asia and Africa, this contradiction between advocated preservation and effective destruction of forests is a legacy of British colonial rule.

In a bid to expand the knowledge frontier on forest conservation, the British government appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. H. Cleghorn in 1851, which produced a report on the condition of Indian forests. It’s the main point was that the process of deforestation was due to the irrational exploitive methods of the natives, most notably the shifting cultivation practised by the tribes. The committee strongly advocated state intervention to restore the forest cover, as the very welfare of the country depended upon its existence. The preservation and expansion of green cover, they argued, was necessary to save India’s climate and irrigation systems.

Dr. Cleghorn, first conservator of forests in the Madras Presidency, brought out his classic book, Forests and Gardens of South India, in 1861. It hardly discussed desiccationist ideas (the notion that cutting down a tree reduced the amount of rainfall on the spot where the tree had stood), but rather concentrated on silviculture and plantations. Nevertheless, again Cleghorn identified the shifting agricultural practices of tribes as mainly responsible for deforestation and the consequent ecological changes. It is important to note that this desiccationist discourse was informed by a presumption of racial superiority, where the colonizers branded the native farmers as destroyers of forests. Thus, desiccationist discourse was used not only as a justification for colonial forest policies, but also as a means to control the access of natives to forests.

The history of desiccationist discourse in South India shows how the British imposed scientific and moral hegemony over forests by blaming deforestation on the forest utilization pattern of the Indians although it was actually the colonial state that was responsible for the severe deforestation of South India. The desiccationist discourses of colonial scientists emanated from a context of anxiety over the wood requirements of the colonial state. Existing studies on desiccationist discourse in India project it as a moral reflection of the colonial scientific community. The history of colonial forest policies, however, indicates that it was rather a means to spread alarm and thereby facilitate the expansion of state control over forests. Desiccationist ideas were articulated not by scientists alone, but also by different sections of the colonial bureaucracy and policy makers. The narrative of the climatic influence of forests was a contested issue within the colonial bureaucracy at one level, and by the local people at another. The desiccationists advocated the protection of forests mainly on mountain slopes, where rivers originate. Their ideas, however, were used as a justification for the expansion of state control over most of the forest landscape in South India. The alarmist narratives were used as a catalyst for the imposition of the state’s administrative and legislative control over forests, but the main guiding force of colonial forest policies was the seeking of revenue and resources.

This legacy has had an explicit influence on the forest policies of independent India. Most policy interventions since independence – including social forestry, joint forest management and community forest management – have been justified with desiccationist discourse. [1] [Source: Green Colonialism and Forest Policies in South India, 1800-1900]

In 2013, the song remains the same.

Just as South India demonstrates how the British imposed scientific and moral hegemony over forests by blaming deforestation on the forest utilization pattern of the Indians (rather than those responsible: corporations and capitalism), today’s industrialized nations impose scientific and moral hegemony over Earth’s forests with the ultimate goals being 1) the implementation of REDD 2) the commodification and corporate capture of the Earth’s last remaining forests, and 3) the continuance of an ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples. And just as the British empire was responsible for the degradation they blamed on the Indians, today this transfer of responsibility is undertaken by NGOs. NGOs as key instruments of empire are utilized to manipulate the Indigenous Tribal peoples by convincing them that their ancient methods of burning are the primary drivers of climate change and destroying the planet, thereby guilting (and bribing) Indigenous Peoples into signing away their rights for their ancestral land, thus imposing REDD, thus imposing moral hegemony. In South India, the history of colonial forest policies indicates that it was rather a means to spread alarm and thereby facilitate the expansion of state control over forests. Today, climate change (very real) is grotesquely exploited by the elites as the ultimate catalyst for the commodification of Earth’s remaining resources.

 

 

The colonial scientific community’s discourse on the climatic importance of forests continues to this day, as does the underlying racism that attempts to pardon the colonizers’ greed, self-centeredness and voracious pillage.

It is critical to recognize that the push towards the illusory green economy is not driven by the vital necessity for the privileged to live within their means, rather it is serving as a driver for the infinite expansion of industrial production. This must be achieved by producing more raw materials to supply more sweatshops/factories, hence requiring more energy supplied by so-called “green” biofuels/biomass. The key words being “more”: more, more, more and more. The call of scientist Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) for a required and planned recession by developed states goes ignored.

Blue Gold

 major investment banks think the number of people served globally by investor-owned water companies is expected to rise 500% over the next 10 years.” — Energy & Capital, A Background and Primer for Water Investments, Source

 

“Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.” — Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s top economist, 2011

WaterShutOffsinDetroit

Photo: July 18, 2014.Water shut-offs continue in Detroit

“A major international conference in Edinburgh aimed at conserving wildlife is coming under fierce attack from campaign groups for trying to sell off nature to multinational corporations. The first ‘World Forum on Natural Capital’ later this month is due to attract business and conservation leaders from across the globe to debate how to give natural resources a monetary value in order to try and protect them. ‘The presence of big business, such as RBS, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto and KPMG, at the World Forum on Natural Capital exposes the event’s real purpose – putting a price on nature so that a small minority can profit…. [B]illions of people around the world depend on free access to forests, rivers and fertile soils for their survival. Putting a price on these common resources leaves all of us more exposed to the forces of the global economy.'” — Nick Dearden, Bid to ‘sell off nature’ to companies under fire, Nov 13, 2013 [Emphasis added]

Water investments represent yet another “sustainable”/green fund responsible investment that would be considered a “green” alternative to fossil fuel investment. Such investment funds are also marketed as “clean technologies.”

“They transform water from a resource openly available to all into a private good whose access must be negotiated and is often based on the ability to pay. Water grabbing thus appears in many different forms, ranging from the extraction of water for large-scale food and fuel crop monocultures, to the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity, to the corporate takeover of public water resources. It also inheres in a model of development which is underwritten by a trade in virtual water.” [Source]

The December 21, 2012 article titled The New “Water Barons”: Wall Street Mega-Banks and the Tycoons are Buying Up Water at Unprecedented Pace, published by The Market Oracle, must be considered essential reading. Author Jo-Shing Yang observes:

“A disturbing trend in the water sector is accelerating worldwide. The new ‘water barons’ – the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires – are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace. Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world….

 

“Now, in 2012, we are seeing this trend of global consolidation of water by elite banks and tycoons accelerating. In a JP Morgan equity research document, it states clearly that ‘Wall Street appears well aware of the investment opportunities in water supply infrastructure, wastewater treatment, and demand management technologies.’ Indeed, Wall Street is preparing to cash in on the global water grab in the coming decades. For example, Goldman Sachs has amassed more than $10 billion since 2006 for infrastructure investments, which include water. A 2008 New York Times article mentioned Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and the Carlyle Group, to have ‘amassed an estimated $250 billion war chest – must of it raised in the last two years – to finance a tidal wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas….

 

“In 2008, Goldman Sachs called water ‘the petroleum for the next century’ and those investors who know how to play the infrastructure boom will reap huge rewards, during its annual ‘Top Five Risks’ conference. Water is a U.S. $425 billion industry, and a calamitous water shortage could be a more serious threat to humanity in the 21st century than food and energy shortages, according to Goldman Sachs’s conference panel. Goldman Sachs has convened numerous conferences and also published lengthy, insightful analyses of water and other critical sectors (food, energy).

 

“Goldman Sachs is positioning itself to gobble up water utilities, water engineering companies, and water resources worldwide. Since 2006, Goldman Sachs has become one of the largest infrastructure investment fund managers and has amassed a $10 billion capital for infrastructure, including water.”

 

Many pension funds have forayed into the water investment sector. As an example, Canadian pension funds CDPQ (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages public pension funds in the province of Québec) and CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board) have acquired England’s South East Water and Anglian Water, respectively. [Source] There are also several water indexes, index funds and hedge funds. Credit Suisse partnered with Ceres partner General Electric (GE Infrastructure) in May 2006 to establish a U.S.$1 billion joint venture to profit from privatization and investments in global infrastructure assets. [Source]

The 2011 Ceres report Aqua Gauge is telling. All definitions within the paper are sourced from “Water for Business: Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector” (WBCSD, IUCN, 2010). The paper also notes thatBloomberg has announced plans to launch a water-focused data service that would provide supply-and-demand models, water data, and news and briefings on water scarcity. [“Our research notes, analyst reactions and market outlooks enable investors to identify upcoming changes and validate opportunities for growth.” [Bloomberg’s once-launched water-focused data service has since been removed: http://about.bnef.com/markets/water/]

The list of corporations that Ceres is strategically aligned with is far more telling. Goldman Sachs (Ceres Financial Services Companies), JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS (Bruno Bertocci of UBS serves on the Ceres 21CI Advisory Committee, acronym for The 21st Century Investor), Deutsche Bank (Ceres INCR member), Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays (Ceres financial backer), Allianz, HSBC, Bank of America (Ceres Company), Morgan Stanley, the very water barons highlighted by Yang in the above article, are all associated with Ceres funders / associates / partners / members / prominent conference speakers.

It is of interest to note that Ceres highlights many of these same banks, Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Fortis, Merrill Lynch, Mitsubishi UFJ, and Morgan Stanley as the “carbon trading leaders.” [Source: Ceres 2008 Banking Sector Report.] At this point you may wish to remind yourself that many trusted NGOs are partners with Ceres and many have served on the advisory board since its inception.

Note that in 2013, “Morgan Stanley created the Institute for Sustainable Investing with the goal of mobilizing capital to address sustainability challenges at scale, building on the firm’s existing efforts. The Institute focuses on developing sustainable investing products and solutions, thought leadership and cross-sector partnerships. As part of the Institute’s launch, Morgan Stanley announced a five-year goal of $10 billion in total client assets in investments that seek to deliver market-rate returns and positive environmental and social impact. Ceres President Mindy Lubber serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, which is chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman.” [Emphasis added] [Source]

The Ceres president serving on Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing advisory board is yet another fine example of the interlocking directorate – a contagion that thrives in the non-profit industrial complex. (The Rebecca Adamson example will follow.)

While water investments continue to skyrocket, Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc., a Ceres coalition member, and Allianz (Ceres associate)represent two of the “best” recognized water-focused mutual funds: The Calvert Global Water Fund [Class A (CFWAX)] has returned a whopping 27.65 percent over the past year; 15.98 percent over the past three years; and 16.06 percent over the past five years. [Source] The same fund (CFWAX), having held $42 million in assets in 2010, now holds assets of $564.86 million as of July 4, 2014. [Source] The Allianz Global Water Fund [Class A (AWTAX)] has had a staggering return of 25.12 percent over the past year; 11.10 percent over the past three years; and 14.34 percent over the past five years. [Source] The same fund (AWTAX) having held assets of $54 million in 2010, now holds assets of $348.3 million as of June 30, 2014. [Source] These two Ceres associates hold positions number two (AllianzGI ) and number five (Calvert) for “Best Mutual Funds” under the fund category of “Natural Resources” by U.S. News.

It is critical to note that Calvert has held a position on the Ceres Board of Directors from 2001*-2006 via Julie Fox Gorte.Gorte’s background is extensive and not limited to the following:

“Gorte serves as Chief Social Investment Strategist and Vice President at Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP Small Cap Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series, Inc.- Calvert Social Small-Cap Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Ameritas Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series Inc – Calvert VP SRI Equity Portfolio, and Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP SRI Balanced Portfolio. She served as Vice President and Chief Social Investment Strategist at Calvert Group, Ltd., Calvert Variable Series, Inc – Ameritas Small Company Equity Portfolio and Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP Mid Cap Value Portfolio. She served as a Vice President and Chief Social Investment Strategist at Calvert Investment Management, Inc. and Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc. Prior to that, Dr. Gorte served as Director of Calvert Asset Management’s social research department, where she managed its team of social and environmental analysts as well as shareholder advocacy.” [Source] [*Several requests to Ceres for annuals reports prior to 2001 have been unsuccessful.]

Today Gorte serves as the Senior Vice President of Sustainable Investing at Pax World Management Corporation. Under Pax, Gorte has continued her board member status on Ceres from 2006 to present. “Gorte oversees environmental, social, and governance-related research on prospective and current investments as well as the Pax’s shareholder advocacy and work on public policy advocacy. She serves as Portfolio Manager of Pax World Funds Series Trust III – Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund.” [Source]

Not to be outdone, Rebecca L. Adamson, President, First People’s Worldwide, serves on the Board of Trustees of Calvert. In the March 13, 20123 article, The Corporate Buy-In, the author writes:

“As I wrote in Too Good to be True, Rebecca Adamson’s value to energy extraction corporations is that of broker, helping multi-national corporations to corrupt tribal leadership through corporate buy-ins. By making grants to tribes through investments in Adamson’s international NGO First Peoples Worldwide, Shell Oil and other notorious corporations pave the way for industrial development in the Fourth World.”

At this juncture it must be noted that Calvert has given financial support to Ceres since, at minimum, 2001, and possibly from inception.

One of the world’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase, has been at the helm of those aggressively pursuing water and infrastructure investment worldwide. JPMorgan’s own analysts estimate that the emerging markets infrastructure is approximately U.S.$21.7 trillion over the next decade. [Source] Ceres works closely with JPMorgan Chase and many other powerful banks and financial institutions in achieving their goals:

“Stakeholder engagement: Ceres, working with our coalition of investors and advocacy groups, engages with a number of financial services firms including Bank of America, State Street, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan [sic] Chase and Citi to help them assess their performance on environmental and social impacts and risks, and identify opportunities for improvement.” [Source]

In the June 16, 2014 article titled Wasted Energy: Fossil Fuel Divestment, author Jay Taber notes that “divestment won’t change a thing environmentally. It will only change ownership of some shares from public institutions to private ones – like the banks we bailed out with our tax dollars. Given the money to be made on the booming fossil fuel industry, I’m sure the banks will be delighted to acquire these shares, and in turn leave the public with no voice at future shareholder meetings.” It is more than likely that Yang (author of the aforementioned Water Barons article) would agree. In the 2008 article, Why Big Banks May Be Buying up Your Public Water System, Yang astutely notes:

“I detailed how both mainstream and alternative media coverage on water has tended to focus on individual corporations and super-investors seeking to control water by buying up water rights and water utilities. But paradoxically the hidden story is a far more complicated one. I argued that the real story of the global water sector is a convoluted one involving ‘interlocking globalized capital’: Wall Street and global investment firms, banks, and other elite private-equity firms – often transcending national boundaries to partner with each other, with banks and hedge funds, with technology corporations and insurance giants, with regional public-sector pension funds, and with sovereign wealth funds – are moving rapidly into the water sector to buy up not only water rights and water-treatment technologies, but also to privatize public water utilities and infrastructure.”

Yang’s words will serve to be prophetic as the divestment campaign unfolds.

Ceres has done a formidable job in serving the corporate interests that fund their work. With skillful precision, Ceres strategically and effectively exploited and continues to exploit the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced in order to secure and further all “climate wealth” opportunities for the oligarchs. In the wave of urgent reports published in November of 2012 [Oligarchy Sends Signal for Green Economy], Ceres promptly seized the moment. On November 20, 2012 the Guardian published the articleInfluential Investors (CERES) Call for Action on ‘Serious Climate Danger’:

“A coalition of the world’s largest investors called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies. In an open letter, the alliance of institutional investors, responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets, said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally. The group called for dialogue between investors and governments to overhaul climate and energy policies.”

Author Yang perhaps summarizes Cere’s work best:

“The elite multinational and Wall Street banks and investment banks have been preparing and waiting for this golden moment for years. Over the past few years, they have amassed war chests of infrastructure funds to privatize water, municipal services, and utilities all over the world. It will be extremely difficult to reverse this privatization trend in water.”

The Thinking Person’s Nightmare

TarSandsCoalitionImage5

 

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

As it has been clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that the Euro-American Left, collectively, far prefers fiction over reality, perhaps it is futile to explain that the Tides Foundation also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres. In 2010, TIDES granted $100,000 to Ceres, specifically earmarking the funds for a “tar sands campaign.” [TIDES 990, 2010] In 2008, Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign. [***Further information on the relationship between the Tides Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, Ceres and NoVo’s stocks in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway is disclosed in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.]

Tides 990 2010 Donation to Ceres Tar Sands Campaign

And all while, Warren Buffett built an entire 21st century American Rail Empire with absolutely no dissent. “Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation is the parent company of the BNSF Railway (formerly the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway). The railroad is now wholly owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is controlled by investor Warren Buffett.” [Source] As the crude-via-rail industry (ignored by the NGOs) continued to skyrocket, the non-profit industrial complex continued to declare glorious victories while key segments of the KXL pipeline (much of the pipeline having already been built before the campaign even began) quietly went into operation. And while a theatre performance worthy of the Palau de la Música Catalana was playing to a sold-out audience (quite literally), Ceres was expanding its tentacles throughout the globe.

Ceres GICCC

 

Next: Part VI

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] http://www.globalenvironment.it/Kumar.pdf

 

 

 

Energy Crisis and Social Crisis: The So-called “Energy Transition”

March 13 2014

by Miquel Amoro?s

Energy crisis and social crisis – Miquel Amoro?s

An essay calling attention to the crucial importance of energy resources and technologies in modern society and the looming energy crisis that the author predicts will be the opportunity for real social renewal based on libertarian and ecological principles.

Energy Crisis and Social Crisis – Miquel Amorós

Every sector of the economy depends on it: energy of one kind or another. Energy makes the world go round and the power that rules the world is linked to the way energy is produced and consumed. The capitalist regime did not really gain momentum until the steam engine and the energy produced by the combustion of coal could be harnessed to industry. The initial dependence on coal was the cause of the vast size and appalling filth of the first industrial factories and cities; as the basis of the productive process, this dependence was responsible for the centralization of the entire system and the intensive exploitation of labor power. The internal combustion engine and the turbine put an end to the rule of coal, but not to the basic characteristics of society that had been created by it. Although the generalized use of electricity and gasoline made production more flexible and extended the range of consumption, facilitating the decentralization of factory production and the unlimited geographical expansion of the cities, social development continued to proceed within the framework that had been established by “carboniferous” capitalism: not only was the model of concentrated and hierarchical power maintained, but it was further reinforced by the new technologies. The refinement of machine production only reduced the role of the workers in the productive process, intensified exploitation and stabilized the class order. The new technologies consolidated class society and reinforced the foundations of domination.

Petroleum and electricity allowed productive activities to be relocated far from primary energy sources, that is, they capitalized the world. The extreme separation between the production and consumption of energy made transport the main strategic factor and at the same time the weak link of the system. Any serious disruption in the energy supply would cause all of society to collapse very quickly. Capitalism cannot exist without an extremely robust privatized distribution network to connect energy sources, which are under the control of financial enterprises or state-based mafias, with their consumer hostages. The expropriation of energy resources is a most instructive characteristic of social inequality: the proletarian from this perspective is the person who does not have unrestricted access to free energy. This explains why the ruling class strives to maintain the private ownership of energy resources and thus to keep the population in the most complete dependence. By fighting against the socialization of energy resources, locally controlled power generation and distribution networks and consumption, the ruling class is simply defending its social status.

Without cheap, inexhaustible and easily accessible energy, industrial society cannot continue to grow. The ruling class became aware of this “energy reality” when oil prices spiked after the creation of OPEC in 1973. The response was two-pronged: on the one hand, massive investments in nuclear power; on the other, the arms race of the great powers that was required by geopolitics, that is, the art of controlling of the world’s main oil and gas fields. The militarization of the world became indispensable for the system’s survival. This was a deliberate choice: it was the only way that power and servitude could be maintained.

During the 1970s and 1980s the market economy was subjected to an intensive restructuring process. The new type of capitalism, based on major technological breakthroughs and the deregulation of the labor and financial markets, displayed the special characteristic, unlike previous types, of not being susceptible to self-management. Although the spectacular development of the forces of order and the methods of population control render the prospect of victorious popular revolts quite improbable, even if such a thing were to occur, these new developments make it likely that the new society would inherit the worst kind of situation. The expropriation of the means of production would not accomplish anything, since the system cannot be socialized, because those who would have to implement such a program would be compelled to reproduce all its features and all its defects. They would be forced to reproduce the social relations that such a system necessarily entails. Authoritarianism, bureaucracy, waste, techno-party-ocracy, division of labor, and the dependence and artificiality of a lifestyle based on the private automobile would remain intact if only the developmentalist tendencies and the form of property are changed, without changing the very nature of the system. The latter must be completely dismantled and reconstructed on new foundations. This will be the main goal of future revolutions.

In a context like the current one, so favorable for control and militarization, the state has become more necessary than ever, since absolute obedience to the ruling interests is no longer an option—it has become compulsory. The limited supplies of energy resources, entering into conflict with the unlimited demand unleashed by an expanding economy, resulted in an “energy crisis”, understood by those in power in terms of “security”. From that point on, any protest on this terrain would be interpreted as a serious threat and therefore it would be quickly suppressed. Energy security became the condition sine qua non of the globalized economy, and as a result, planning with regard to this question would not be subjected to any kind of debate. During the 1990s the world energy market became the pillar of globalization. Guaranteeing a sufficient energy supply, regardless of the social cost this might entail, defined the “sustainability” of the capitalist economy.

The developmentalist solution of the energy crisis was, first: the creation of international energy markets, which led to the expansion of supply and transport infrastructures; second, an across-the-board increase in the prices of fuel and electricity; and third, a whole package of policies: continuation of the nuclear power program, subsidies for industrial renewables, bio-fuel plantations, and the exploitation of shale gas. The destructive impact on the territory and the concomitant repercussions on people’s lives are the most important results of this crisis. A free life in a balanced geographical space will require not just a libertarian communist model of production, but an energy model based on the same principles.

The new sociological concept of “energy poverty”, coined during the 1990s, reflects the situation of a growing part of the population that cannot pay its utility bills despite the overproduction of electricity. This is due primarily to the constantly increasing price of electricity, an outcome of the peculiarities of the “liberalization” of the markets inaugurated in 1995, the subsidies for renewables and the costs of the “transition to competitiveness”, all of which encouraged speculation and indebtedness, leading to prices per kilowatt-hour far in excess of any reasonable level. We must not, however, overlook the fact that the peak of oil and gas production is a constantly looming threat that pushes prices ever higher, even without taking into account the price gouging of the utility corporations. What is taking place is not merely a simple problem of oligopolies that are illegally fixing outrageous prices by making the consumers pay for their reconversion costs; it is also a problem of the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, a circumstance that these same oligopolies are exploiting to their advantage. However, in order to exorcise the horrifying specter of an economy without enough electricity, or, which amounts to the same thing, an economy with electricity that is too expensive, because there is not enough oil or gas, the world’s leaders have conceived of a new strategy, that is, the “energy transition”.

This energy transition does not consist in a return to the nationalization of the energy sector, but rather, on the one hand, in financial incentives for investments in nuclear power plants utilizing a pseudo-renewable pretext, and, on the other hand, in the resort to the extractive technology of hydrofracking. The only kind of nationalization that is being contemplated is that of the costs incurred by the construction of nuclear power plants and new energy infrastructure. This is a kind of partial eco-capitalism, vigorously supported by the green parties, who put their faith in industrial renewables, and even more so by international institutions, whose goal is to reduce the share of fossil fuels in world energy consumption, or at least to control their prices, while maintaining high rates of economic growth. The key to this conception appears to be the free market in energy, energy savings, efficiency plans, energy deposits that have yet to be discovered, and expected technological innovations, all of which are very speculative and uncertain. The alleged effectiveness of fracking has helped to hold down prices during a favorable economic conjuncture characterized by declining demand. The profitability of energy resources, however, is undergoing an even more precipitous decline. Just to get an idea of how much it is falling, we can refer to the Rate of Return for Energy, the RRE—the relation between the quantity of energy obtained on average and the energy used in the extraction process—for conventional oil the RRE is currently 20 to 1 (in 1930 it was 100 to 1), and for non-conventional oil or gas it is only 1.5 to 1. In comparison, the RRE of traditional agriculture, without machinery, was 10 to 1. Since the RRE will continue to decline as the exploitation of new deposits proceeds, the energy crisis will continue to get worse and prices will continue to rise even in a stagnant economy, resulting in “energy” poverty and exclusion for increasing percentages of the population, until the time arrives when this crisis converges with other crises and becomes a social crisis.

The energy question is therefore an element of the greatest importance in the anti-developmentalist critique, since a reconstruction of society without either Market or State must herald a decentralized and efficient production of renewable energy, preferably of communally owned resources, if we do not want separate power to re-emerge in association with fuel sources. Above all, however, because this society will arise from a struggle over energy that will not take long to arrive.

Miquel Amorós

Notes for presentations delivered on January 12, 2014 at the C.S.O. La Gatera, in Tavernes de Valldigna, and on January 24, 2014 at the Hegoetxea de Irala (Bilbao).

Translated in March 2014 from Spanish text provided by the author.

The CERE$ Network

ceres sachs mckibben

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” 

 

Intercontinental Cry

March 11, 2014

by Jay Taber

In Climate Wealth Opportunists, Cory Morningstar presents part two of her investigative report on the non-profit industrial complex, and on the oligarchs that own it. In this part of the series, Morningstar examines CERES, “the clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance.”

Creating complacency in a populace that embraces environmental protection required corporate investment in marketing a caring corporate image. As Morningstar observes, through corporate underwriting of mega NGO campaigns, “Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.”

Thus perpetuating the commodity culture that is currently devastating the planet and indigenous peoples worldwide, the corporate-financed crusades co-opt the innocent and corrupt the opportunists. What Wall Street masterminds might call a win-win situation.

 

[Jay Taber Jay is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as director of Public Good Project. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part III of an Investigative Report] [McKibben: Red, White, Blue & Gold(man Sachs)]

The Art of Annihilation

March 11, 2014

Part three of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Preface: A Coup d’etat of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

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Poisonous Apples and Agent Oranges

In the explicit plan by the fund portfolio managers to consult with universities to continue investing in the market albeit in “divested” portfolios [Document: Do the Investment Math: Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio], Patrick Geddes, Chief Investment Officer of the Aperio Group, compares apples and oranges, presenting two separate arguments, masquerading as one: 1) Is it worth investing in “environmentally sound” funds from a financial standpoint? and 2) Are “environmentally sound” funds environmentally sound?

In the document, the first question trumps the second. In fact, the paper, in its entirety, is framed in these terms. The fact that there is no such thing as an “environmentally sound fund” is moot. Rather, it’s all about whether a fund makes profit.

The webinar “Do the Investment Math—Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio” explores in detail the risk impact of divesting from a range of carbon-intensive companies, from the Filthy 15 to the Carbon Tracker 200. The panel, moderated by Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, features Geddes (who explores the risk impact of divesting from carbon), and Dan Apfel, Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, who highlights the trend of students calling for divestment and college interest in responsible and sustainable investing.

Activist Robert Jereski wrote to Apfel of the Responsible Endowments Coalition and asked what the “clean tech” that Apfel speaks of actually is, in precise terms. Apfel’s response is as follows: “We interpret clean tech broadly so that investors can find solutions, but also work hard with students so that we can make sure schools avoid things that we consider to be false solutions – fracking, clean coal, as well as trying to figure out what is a good way to do other investment in clean tech. We’re also trying to bridge the gap to more local investments that are not always seen as investable.” The interpretation is so broad that they are apparently unable to actually define it.

In both the webinar and the Q&A period, the word “equity” arises over and over again. Yet in this divestment campaign, brought forward by the oligarchs’ appointed “leader” on climate change, the meaning of equity is that of finance, accounting and ownership. The word equity, as in fairness, does not exist in this patriarchal paradigm: white privilege harnessing climate wealth, as the solution to our global accelerating ecological crisis.

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May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

McKibben: Red, White, Blue and Gold(man Sachs)

Saturday Keynote Address by Bill McKibben at the Guiding Lights Weekend 2011.

“What can our ‘socially responsible’ investment managers say when they invest in the stocks of banks, like Citibank and JP Morgan-Chase, and government contractors, like IBM and AT&T, who are running critical parts of government as these manipulations occur – including the disappearance of $4 trillion from government bank accounts and the manipulation of the gold markets and inventory in a silent financial coup d’etat?” — Catherine Austin, March 14, 2006

McKibben opens his 2013 Ceres presentation (McKibben was also a Ceres guest speaker in 2007) with some welcome honesty, speaking of his long-standing friendships/relationships with many Wall Street darlings. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” [Source]

In the same 2013 Ceres presentation, McKibben furthers his irresponsible and negligent lie, basing it on the illusion of staying below a deadly +2ºC within an economic system dependent upon growth and the further allowance of burning fossil fuels. In reality, we’re committed to far past 2ºC today, not including feedbacks, [+2.4ºC, Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper] and looking at a +6ºC future void of most all life.

“[But] we should accept the fact that we have actually written off some of the southern hemisphere communities as a consequence of sticking to 2 degrees centigrade.” — Kevin Anderson

McKibben Promotes 2C

 “No scientist believes the 2 degree limit is safe, just corporate NGOs.” —Chris Shaw, writer/researcher | Note that the red square highlighting “2 degree Celsius” and the arrow appear in the original image/presentation.

McKibben proceeds to cite his long-time friend/associate, Bob Massie [1], an integral supporter/promoter of the 350.org divestment campaign.

Global Reporting Initiative

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In 1994, Bob Massie won the statewide primary election and became the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He served as Executive Director of Ceres from 1996 to 2003, and was on the Ceres Board of Directors from 2001-2009. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] During his tenure as executive director of Ceres, Massie increased the Ceres organization’s size and revenue ten-fold. Massie also “proposed and led the creation of the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a major gathering of public and private sector financial leaders held every two years at UN Headquarters in New York City. In 1998, in partnership with the United Nations and major U.S. foundations, he co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative with Dr. Allen White of the Tellus Institute, and served as its Chair until 2002.” [Source] [Dr. Allen White is also founder of Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) – a joint project of Ceres and Tellus Institute.]

“‘Working increasingly with the business sector as a partner, we in the UNDP welcome the Global Reporting Initiative as a critical effort to strengthen the practice of monitoring and measuring corporate sustainability.’  —United Nations Development Programme” (in Ceres 2001 Annual Report)

The Global Reporting Initiative website outlines the timeline and key events as follows:

GRI’s inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach was established early, when it was still a department of CERES. In 1998 a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was established to develop GRI’s guidance. A pivotal mandate of the Steering Committee was to “do more than the environment.” On this advice, the framework’s scope was broadened to include social, economic, and governance issues. GRI’s guidance became a Sustainability Reporting Framework, with Reporting Guidelines at its heart.

 

The first version of the Guidelines was launched in 2000. The following year, on the advice of the Steering Committee, CERES separated GRI as an independent institution.

 

The second generation of Guidelines, known as G2, was unveiled in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. GRI was referenced in the World Summit’s Plan of Implementation. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) embraced GRI and invited UN member states to host it. The Netherlands was chosen as host country.

 

In 2002 GRI was formally inaugurated as a UNEP collaborating organization in the presence of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and relocated to Amsterdam as an independent non-profit organization. Ernst Ligteringen was appointed Chief Executive and a member of the Board.

It is of interest to note that the GRI Secretariat is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands while “Ceres continues to serve as the U.S. advocate for corporate and investor use of the GRI, and Bob Massie from Ceres serves on the GRI board of directors.” [Ceres 2003 Annual Report] The GRI’s Board of Directors [2] met for the first time on April 3, 2002. The directors included, but were not limited to, representatives from Deutsche Bank Group, Royal Dutch/Shell, Bob Massie for Ceres, and American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations.

GRI is financed by its global network; corporate and governmental sponsorships, Organizational Stakeholders, revenue from GRI products and services and its core support and grants from governments, foundations and international organizations including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Australian government. Previous institutional supporters include the European Commission, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, UN Foundation, World Bank, International Finance Cooperation (IFC), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation, United States Environment Protection Agency, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Soros Foundation, and governmental bodies from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Australia.

“With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things. Lots of other things. He became an ordained Episcopal minister; he was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in his native Massachusetts (in a bad year, up against the Gingrich contract-with-America GOP groundswell). And he took up the global warming fight, bringing his expertise to bear as president of Ceres, a national coalition of environmental and investor groups. He went on to found the Global Reporting Initiative, one of the first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions.” — Bill McKibben, Nov 2012

In the above quote, McKibben states “With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things.” McKibben either failed to recognize that the transition was from racist apartheid to economic apartheid or, perhaps, simply viewed/views the transition to the hegemonic nature of neoliberalism as a “success.” [Video source: John Pilger, Apartheid Did Not Die. An analysis of South Africa’s new, democratic regime.] It is also imperative to acknowledge that the “attempt” by Massie (as cited by McKibben above) and others within the non-profit industrial complex with their “first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions” has proven to be an epic fail of unparalleled proportions. Despite relentless rhetoric and marketing of such schemes/collaborations/partnerships as success stories, emissions since the launch of the Ceres (1987) and GRI (2000) guidelines have skyrocketed, having increased over 40%; atmospheric CO2 has been pushed to its highest in 15 million years, at an unprecedented rate; ocean acidification has increased 30% with the oceans being acidified faster than at any time in the past 800,000 years and soon, faster than in the past 300 million years. All the marketing and hype will not make this fact any less so. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Failure is success. George Orwell lives on.

In 2002, Massie was named one of the 100 most influential people in the field of finance by CFO Magazine. In 2008, Massie was awarded the Damyanova Prize for Corporate Social Responsibility by the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, and in 2009 he received the Joan Bavaria [founder of Ceres] Innovation and Impact Awards for Building Sustainability in Capital Markets.

In January 2011, Massie declared his candidacy for the United States Senate and began actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination for that office. McKibben actively supported Massie’s campaign utilizing his brand 350.org. [Fundraiser with Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org: “Mark your calendars: Thursday, June 2nd, Bill McKibben, a founder of the grassroots organization 350.org, is coming to Massachusetts to speak at a fundraiser for Bob’s campaign for US Senate.”]

In March 2012, Massie became the president of the New Economics Institute.

“Ceres and GRI pursue an innovative approach to corporate responsibility which relies on transparency and reputational incentives as opposed to traditional bureaucratic regulation alone. Initially considered impractical, this approach has proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone. More than two thousand major corporations and institutional investor groups now voluntarily participate in Ceres and GRI corporate disclosure standards.” [Emphasis added] [3]

If the voluntary approach as described above has “proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone,” it is hard to imagine what a failure would look like as we edge ever closer towards the final curtain call on what many scientists refer to as Earth’s sixth extinction or the Holocene Extinction .[4] If Coca-Cola and other like-minded corporate psychopaths receive accolades under the Ceres banner of “[H]uman rights performance” (which they do) as they continue to assassinate union leaders in Latin America, what does Ceres consider to be human rights violations? Ceres, although clearly audacious, also understands the psychology of one pining for and readily accepting what one wishes to hear – regardless of whether the facts state otherwise. Like kittens lapping up a bowl of fresh milk, psychopaths have a tendency to lap up such luxurious lies.

Seduction by Omission

In the divestment lecture by McKibben and Massie titled Divestment and the New Economy, it is relatively easy to understand why activists, well-intentioned students and citizens are easily seduced. Language is everything and both McKibben and Massie are extraordinarily experienced, perhaps even gifted, at using palatable and acceptable terminology. Key words that are recognized by many as false solutions (i.e., “green economy”) are omitted, with terms such as “sustainable enterprises” and “fossil-free portfolios” used and exercised in their place. Yet, what is far more stealthy is the language that is purposely omitted: critical discussion as to how colonialism, imperialism, racism and patriarchy are propelled forward and normalized in our commodity culture, via non-fossil fuel investments. Under the economic system of industrialized capitalism, infinite growth of any investment dependent upon Earth’s natural resources is not, and cannot be made to be, sustainable. This is the elephant in the room that no one dares speak of.

Socially Responsible Investing Options: McDonald’s, ConocoPhillips and Nike

“To assess the ‘personality’ of the corporate ‘person,’ a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social ‘personality’: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a ‘psychopath.'” —The Corporation, The Pathology of Commerce, Case Histories Divest for our Future, 350.org’s divestment website, recommends “environmentally and socially responsible funds.” [5]

Social responsible investing (SRI) is to serve one purpose: the human purpose. SRI serves/benefits only those with the monetary means to invest – meaning those of privilege. In 2009 Forbes provided a list of the top ten “Socially Responsible Buys.” Number 4 was Energen – a diversified energy company involved in natural gas distribution and oil and gas exploration and production. Number 10 was Apache, which develops and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. In 2013 things don’t look much different when we view the top 25 ranked socially responsible dividend stocks. Number 20 is Consolidated Edison (natural gas). On Feb 4, 2013 Forbes reported Northeast Utilities a top socially responsible dividend stock. Note that on Feb 20, 2014, it was reported that “Northeast Utilities (NU) Opposes Solar to Protect Profits” [Source]. Most SRI funds are heavily invested in one type of fossil fuel or another. Examples are Parnassus Equity Income Fund (approx. 14% of assets are held in oil, natural gas and electric utilities), TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund (owns shares in dozens of oil and gas corporations including Hess, Marathon and Sunoco, and shale gas corporations, Devon Energy (named the “producer of the year” by Oilsands Magazine) and Range Resources), Calvert Equity Portfolio (approx. 10% of its portfolio comprised of fossil fuels with Suncor one of its largest holdings, which says on its website that it was “the first company to develop the oil sands, creating an industry that is now a key contributor to Canada’s prosperity”) and the Domini Social Equity Fund (among its top 10 holdings is Apache Corp). [Source]

Green Money Journal cited the following as one of five “top socially responsible investing news stories of 2004” as reported by SocialFunds.com:

“While shareowners have for years withdrawn resolutions when companies comply with their terms, 2004 saw an increasing number of such instances. Energy companies Cinergy (CIN), American Electric Power (AEP), TXU (TXU), and Southern Company (SO) agreed to prepare reports on the risks posed by climate change and company plans to mitigate such risks, and Reliant (REI) agreed to increase climate risk disclosure.”

In light of this top news story of 2004 applauding Southern Company’s corporate responsibility, one might wonder, eight years later, how this lauded corporation has since evolved.

It has evolved the way one would expect any psychopath to evolve:

“To insulate themselves against charges of environmental racism for poisoning poor blacks in Burke County, Southern Companies doesn’t just make wild claims about how many [new] Homer Simpson jobs … its nuclear plants will produce. Southern Companies purchased its very own civil rights organization, the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Council, originally founded by Dr. Martin Luther King himself. A Southern Companies CEO headed up SCLC’s building fund and raised over $3 million to pay for its new office buildings on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue.” June 27, 2012, Black On The Old Plantation

Giving Up Nothing

KillerCoke

“Walden Equity (WSEFX) illustrates the variety among SRI funds. Its holdings include McDonald’s, energy giant ConocoPhillips and Nike, which has had its own labor problems…. Walden, which charges 1.0% per year, has beaten the S&P 500 by 2.8 points a year over the past five years…. So, giving up practically nothing, you can get a warm feeling that your money is serving a useful purpose – even if the fund manager or index composer is deciding what that purpose should be. Not a bad deal.” — 5 Mutual Funds for Socially Responsible Investors, May, 2012

 

“Responsible But Still Profitable – Investors, however, don’t want to suffer losses on their investments, even if they are socially responsible ones. With that in mind, here are five stocks currently listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability United States Index that have produced positive returns over the past year…. limiting your investment selections to companies listed on an index such as this will likely not create an investment portfolio that perfectly matches all of your political and ethical concerns, but it will ensure that your investment capital goes into companies that are regarded as socially responsible on average compared to most companies.” — 4 Socially Responsible Stocks To Watch, Investopedia, June 26, 2012

Stocks

Image: Investopedia

Most all social fund portfolios claim that the funds will consider a company’s performance with respect to environmental responsibility, labor standards, and human rights. This claim must be acknowledged as nothing but marketing rhetoric given Coca-Cola – one of the top offenders on environment degradation, labor and human rights on the planet – is considered a “socially responsible” investment.

The idea that one can divest from Suncor and Exxon and re-invest it into top ranked socially responsible dividend stock such as Pepsi and McDonald’s, and that this is going to somehow develop a “sustainable” economy that will help tackle climate change, is more than a little hopeful. It’s delusional. Don’t like Pepsi? How about Apple? One need not worry about the modern day slaves in China jumping to their deaths from the sweatshop rooftops, just click over to SumOfUs where you can click a petition “to Apple telling them to make the iPhone 5 ethically.” [SLIDESHOW: 25 Top Ranked Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks, Nov. 22, 2013] All is good for the privileged hyper-consumer in the world of make-believe where “real change” is only a click away.

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Make no mistake, one can divest from Exxon and reinvest in Coca-Cola, but infinite growth – a requirement of the industrialized capitalist system – will not and cannot become tamed under a “good” investment or a “bad” one. Nor can the violence and oppression upon the world’s most vulnerable and Earth’s ecosystems, also inherently built into the system.

Under Michael Bluejay’s list of socially responsible stocks, the author writes:

“On the other hand, some say that no large company is completely clean — some are just “less bad” than others. For example, the largest plastics recycler in the world is also the largest producer of virgin plastic. And while producing bicycles is a laudable goal, critics allege that a major bicycle manufacturer uses sweatshop labor to produce its bikes….

 

“There are still yet other complications: Over the years the small eco/responsible companies I list on this site invariably seem to get bought out by a larger company, or themselves grow bigger and then attract multinational investors, or go out of business. As an example of the second case, natural foods maker Hain Foods merged with tea maker Celestial Seasonings a while back and then continued to swallow up dozens of small natural foods makers around the country, and is now a big enough player that their biggest investor is Wellington Management, whose primary investors include Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Alcoa, Gillette, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart! Who would have guessed?”

Does divesting from fossil fuels ensure one does not invest in nuclear? Not necessarily. From the Sustainable & Responsible Mutual Fund Chart, let’s randomly look at just one fund, in this instance, Calvert International Opportunities Fund Y. Under the heading Environment: Climate / Clean Technology we find:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment – No investment in companies that own or operate new nuclear power plans, but may invest in companies with existing nuclear power if they are demonstrating leadership in alternative energy.” [Emphasis added.]

Under the heading Social: Human Rights:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment: Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights, including those under international and/or US sanction for human rights abuses.” [Emphasis added.]

The irony is grandiose: “Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights.” If this were true, most every U.S. corporation would be “avoided” seeing that the U.S. government has the most appalling history of human rights abuses of all states in the entire world. Never has a single country inflicted so much pain and suffering in almost every corner of the globe.

The Right “Track” for Green Investors

On October 12, 2012 the Guardian featured an article titled How to invest ethically (“As National Ethical Investment Week begins, we look at the latest thinking on green finance and joining the ethical revolution”). Reflecting the fact that water will become exceedingly scarce as planetary tipping points continue to be crossed, perhaps it is of little surprise that the second choice for the opportunistic ethical investor is water. The article states: “Desalination will be a significant investment play for ethical investors, naming GE, Suez and Siemens as potential stock beneficiaries. And most green funds now have a portion of their portfolio dedicated to water stocks, while others, such as Pictet Water, invest only in water.” And what was the number one choice for the ethical investor? Incredibly, it is rail. Rail is highlighted as “[T]he right track for green investors.” The irony is rich – literally. Not only did those behind the creation of the Keystone Pipeline campaign distract the populace long enough for Obama’s financial advisor, Warren Buffett, to build a 21st century North American rail empire, hell, now one can even invest in his rail company BNSF under the guise of ethical investment. Move your money from tar sands investments over to the rail. This way you can watch the oil roll down the tracks, but without holding a direct investment in the oil itself. And the best part is you can feel like you’re saving the world. [From the article: “Shares in railroad companies have soared… In 2009, legendary investor Warren Buffett bought America’s second biggest rail operator, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, in a deal valuing the company at $44bn, while CSX, the third biggest operator, has seen its share price quadruple since 2004.”]

DeRailment @ Vandergrift, Pa.

February 13, 2014: A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania. On January 6, 2005  a Norfolk Southern train hauling chlorine through Graniteville, South Carolina, derailed. The result was toxic gas that poured into the town. Nine people lost their lives on the day of the accident. On June 10, 2010, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Liberty, SC spilling toxic substances.

Both Norfolk Southern and CSX rail corporations are listed among the “Top 25 Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks” in a recent ranking by the Dividend Channel (August 21, 2013). Norfolk (“Giving Mother Nature a High Five”) has also been named in the “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list” by G.I. Jobs magazine while CSX (“See how CSX is driven to protect the environment”) is the largest coal transporter east of the Mississippi River. CSX is also prepared for growth in the oil by rail market: “CSX’s recently announced capacity expansion will support crude oil growth to the Northeast. The $26 million investment in 2013 adds passing sidings along our River Line running south from Albany, NY to provide even more train capacity to serve the crude oil market. Overall, CSX is investing $2.3 billion into our network and strategic assets in 2013. Currently, CSX has the ability to handle more than 400,000 barrels of crude per day into the Philadelphia market alone. Additionally, our network is capable of handling the largest capacity tank cars (286,000 gross weight on rail), maximizing your barrels loaded per car. This gives you the ability to ship more crude per train and lowers the per barrel transportation costs.”

The SRI Mutual Fund Industry: A Free-for-all

“Colonization, imperialism, slavery, and virtually all wars are directly attributable to oligarchies trying to achieve the highest return on investment. It is called ‘sacred hunger’ in Barry Unsworth’s prize-winning novel of the same name on the slave trade. How the SRI industry came to believe that it could use avarice to reverse the suffering that greed causes has everything to do with marketing and nothing to do with philosophy.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

 

“Clearly no large company has changed its fundamental business practices due to SRI retail investing.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

In 2004 Paul Hawken wrote:

“Imagine an organic food trade association any company could join. Members set the standards to suit themselves. Thus, any store or company can label their products ‘organic’ if they choose because there are no rules defining what organics mean. If your company does anything to improve its production methods, no matter how inconsequential, it qualifies for membership and can use the word ‘organic’ on its labels.

 

The association gives an annual prize to an academic paper, showing that if you eliminate six of the twelve pesticides commonly used on lettuce, you still get as much lettuce as before. Consumers who want to know about the food they buy can’t find out how it is grown or how it is certified. Instead of an independent outside agency, association members hire private for-profit ‘screening’ companies to determine what’s organic. The screening companies compete, each has a different screening method, and none reveal how they define or determine organic. The screening standards allow 90% of all the food produced in the world to be labeled organic. Inside this organization a small group of core producers believe organic should mean ‘no use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.’ The big food companies are amused by this group’s romanticism and see them as ‘idealists.’

 

Sound ridiculous? Yes, but this trade association exists. It doesn’t sell food, it sells investments. It is the international socially responsible investing (SRI) mutual fund industry. Like the imaginary trade group, it has no stands, no definitions, and no regulations other than financial regulations. Anyone can join; anyone can call a fund an SRI fund. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies are included in SRI mutual fund portfolios.”

Hawken’s summary:

1.     The cumulative investment portfolio of the combined SRI funds is virtually no different than the combined portfolio of conventional mutual funds.

2.     The screening methodologies and exceptions employed by most SRI funds allow practically any publicly-held corporation to be considered as an SRI portfolio company.

3.     Fund names and literature can be deceptive, not reflecting the actual investment strategy of the managers.

4.     SRI in advertising caters to people’s desires to improve the world by avoiding bad actors in the corporate world, but it can be misleading and oftentimes has little correlation to portfolio holdings.

5.     There is a lack of transparency and accountability in screening and portfolio selection.

6.     The ability for investors to do market-based comparisons of different funds is difficult if not impossible.

7.     There is a strong bias towards companies that aggressively pursue globalization of brands, products and regulations.

8.     The environmental screens used by the portfolio managers are loose and do little to help the environment.

9.     The language used to describe SRI mutual funds, including the term “SRI” itself, is vague and indiscriminate and leads to misperception and distortion of investor goals.

10.  Although shareholder activism is cited as a reason to invest in SRI mutual funds, few SRI mutual funds engage in shareholder advocacy or sponsor activist shareholder resolutions.

Perhaps the single most important and overlooked statement within Hawken’s report was as follows:

 “The single most important criterion for a company is whether its products or services should exist at all.”

The report is damning – especially in light of the fact Hawken is an avid supporter/promoter of “natural capitalism.” “In keeping with their longstanding commitment to green capitalism, in 1982 Hawkin’s coauthors Hunter and Amory Lovins founded the green think-tank and consultancy Rocky Mountain Institute, which has worked with all manner of large and small companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart, and with governmental clients such as the Pentagon.” [Source]

Following this report, Hawken went on to found the Highwater Global Fund with Michael Baldwin. Highwater, with Portfolio 21, are considered to be two of the most ethical funds that exist. Yet both funds have holdings in Banco Bradesco – an investor in REDD. [“The FAS is an innovative institution, created by the state government of Amazonas and Bradesco Bank, also the maintainer. Among the other organizations that support it are Coca-Cola, Amazon Fund – BNDES, Marriott International, Samsung, and other operational partners.”] [WATCH: Indigenous Peoples Aggressively Targeted by Manipulative NGOs Advancing REDD Agenda]

“[REDD is] a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred… It is time to defend Mother Earth and Father Sky. Your future depends on it.” — Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network Oct 22. 2013

Portfolio 21 also has holdings in gas: “Portfolio 21 Investments will invest in companies involved in the transmission and distribution of natural gas as well as in utilities that utilize natural gas as a fuel source.” [Source]

The top ten equity holdings of Highwater are: Apple; Banco Bradesco; Cisco; EnerNOC; Ford Motors; Hyflux; Natura Cosmetics; Novozymes; SSL International; and Vivo Participacoes (Highwater Global Fund, 2010). Although addressing poverty appears to be a predominant area of interest in Hawken’s extensive CV, those with limited funds need not contact Highwater Global Fund anytime soon. The minimum investment bar creates yet another exclusive venue where only the monetarily rich have access to Highwater’s services, furthering class distinction and division.

It’s not that Highwater or Portfolio 21 are “evil,” rather, it is simply the nature of capitalism. The nature of the beast. Profit comes first.

“Some claim that the SRI label has become a little too elastic. In 2010, a report from ethical financial advisers Barchester Green said many UK funds cannot justify the labels applied to them. It was particularly critical of the Zurich Environmental Opportunities pension fund, whose top holdings – Shell, BP and miner Rio Tinto – resembled ‘an environmental investor’s blacklist.’ Conservative investors might approve of the Ave Maria Catholic Value fund’s screening out of supposed sin stocks, but not be keen that controversial oil company Halliburton is one of its biggest holdings.” — Ethical wrapper can contain some surprising names, October 22, 2013

From Exxon to BP

It is somewhat ironic that Ceres was launched in 1989 (presented to the public as The Valdez Principles), exploiting the Exxon Valdez spill to build its own brand recognition and value as the corporate watchdog. Jump forward to the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill, which is considered the largest, most catastrophic, accidental marine oil spill in history – surpassing the cataclysmic Exxon oil spill of 1989. How many people know that up until this disaster, BP was a top holding SRI fund. Also not to be forgotten as a top holding SRI investment before its demise in 2004 was none other than Enron – the poster child for corporate malfeasance.

“Regenerative Capitalism”

The December 27, 2012 article (Greenbiz), Why 350.org’s divestment campaign is on the money, is written by Michael Kramer of Natural Investments, another firm of mention in the 350.org divestment documents (Institutional Pathways to Fossil Free Investing).

Kramer (“Regenerative Capitalism“) makes the argument to move fossil fuel divestments to SRI funds. The article ends with Kramer announcing his firm has created a fossil-fuel-free portfolio for investors who can’t bear to invest in fossil fuels. “The time has come to put our money where our values are, and money managers and mutual funds that claim to be sustainable or socially responsible should look very closely at what these words truly mean and reflect upon whether they should use such terminology if they don’t measure up to such a standard.”

Upon further research it was found that the Natural Investments Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio is comprised of ten fixed income and equity funds and that the fund also supports a non-profit organization) (10%). When asked what actual investments comprised the fund, here was the response:

“Thanks for your inquiry. We have identified 10 such funds that meet our financial and broader environmental, social and governance criteria, but it’s certainly possible that there are other fossil fuel free funds that don’t apply such ESG criteria. But given our universe of about 200 sustainable and responsible funds, we’ve indeed found very few that qualify for inclusion. We certainly provide the names of all investments we use to our clients, but not otherwise (though all the responsible funds we consider are listed in the Heart Rating section of our website). As far as the nonprofits we donate to, 350.org is the recipient of a portion of the management fee for the fossil fuel free portfolio, and many other recipients for the rest of our 1%- of- revenues donations are listed here: http://naturalinvesting.com/charitable-contributions. Feel free to be in touch if we can be of further service. Thanks, Michael Kramer, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Managing Partner, Natural Investments LLC

The transferring of investment funds from fossil fuel investments to SRI investments is not a solution to our unparalleled ecological crisis, with the planet already having crossed a multitude of planetary boundaries. Rather, it is a two-fold distraction with epic consequences. First, it distracts from the very root causes of our ecological/planetary crisis. Second, under this veil, the illusory “green economy,” – the commodification of the planet – is going forward, full throttle, with almost no opposition. This brilliant and diabolical marketing feat employing behaviour change strategies is being carried out by the organizations, firms and NGOs working with and promoting the divestment campaign, while on the surface, 350.org’s “hands” remain clean. SRI fund promoters are not activists. One must never lose sight of the simple fact that their primary duty as a fiduciary is maximum shareholder return.

The SRI industry is not interested in reversing the anguish resulting from colonialism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, oppression and decimation of environment, as all of this ugliness is inherently built into the system (which then externalizes these costs). The task at hand is the continuance of individualism and greed, normalized into a commodity culture, where all those with monetary means can acquiesce in our collective path to self-destruction. Such a vogue fabrication of, in essence, a kinder, gentler, more compassionate capitalism, is achievable and even preferred in a corporatized society where lies are preferred over truth. Exquisite fabrication, wrapped in opaque vellum, bestowed with a shimmering green bow. It’s not high-gloss marketing over philosophy. High-gloss marketing is the philosophy.

The Mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Such crafted veneer as the Ceres Principles can be categorized under the similar heading/guise of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). In the article Corporate Social Responsibility as a Political Resource (February 22, 2010), author Michael Barker writes:

“In June 2003 Gretchen Crosby Sims completed a vitally important Ph.D. at Stanford University titled Rethinking the Political Power of American Business: The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility. Hardly counting herself as a political radical – Sims’s doctorate thesis was supervised by Morris Fiorina, who is presently a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution – the findings of her unpublicized study provide a critical resource for progressive activists seeking to challenge the mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the British non-profit organization Corporate Watch states, CSR ‘is not a step towards a more fundamental reform of the corporate structure but a distraction from it.’ Indeed, Corporate Watch advise that: ‘Exposing and rejecting CSR is a step towards addressing corporate power….’

 

As [Weinstein] demonstrated long ago, corporate elites adopted the principles of ‘cooperation and social responsibility’ to sustain capitalism’s inequalities, not to remedy them. To campaign for Corporate Social Responsibility in this present day is akin to demanding the institutionalization of elite social engineering. Capitalist corporations will never be socially responsible, this fact is plain to see; thus the sooner progressive activists identify their enemy as capitalism, not corporate greed or a lack of good-will, then the sooner they will be able to create an equitable world whose political and economic system is premised on social responsibility, not to corporate elites, but instead to all people.” [Emphasis added]

 

Next: Part IV

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Bob Massie is the President and CEO of the New Economics Institute. An ordained Episcopal minister, he received his B.A. from Princeton Unversity, M.A. from Yale Divinity School, and doctorate from Harvard Business School. From 1989 to 1996 he taught at Harvard Divinity School, where he served as the director of the Project on Business, Values, and the Economy. His 1998 book, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years, won the Lionel Gelber prize for the best book on international relations in the world. He was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1994 and a candidate for the United States Senate in 2011. During his career he has created or led three ground-breaking sustainability organizations, serving as the president of Ceres (the largest coalition of investors and environmental groups in the United States), the co-founder and first chair of the Global Reporting Initiative, and the initiator of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which currently has over 100 members with combined assets of over $10 trillion. [Source: New Economics Institute]

[2] ROGER ADAMS (United Kingdom) Executive Director-Technical, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, JACQUELINE ALOISI DE LARDEREL (France) Assistant Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics, FABIO FELDMANN (Brazil) former Secretary of Environment, São Paulo, TOSHIHIKO GOTO (Japan) Chair, Environmental Auditing Research Group, JUDY HENDERSON, CHAIR (Australia) immediate-past Chair, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, former Commissioner, World Commission on Dams HANNS MICHAEL HÖLZ (Germany) Global Head of Sustainable Development and Public Relations, Deutsche Bank Group, JAMSHED J. IRANI (India) Director, Tata Sons Limited, ROBERT KINLOCH MASSIE (United States) Executive Director, CERES, MARK MOODY-STUART (United Kingdom) retired Chair, Royal Dutch/Shell, ANITA NORMARK (Sweden) General Secretary, International Federation of Building and Wood Workers, NYAMEKO BARNEY PITYANA (South Africa) Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa, former Chair, South African Human Rights Commission BARBARA SHAILOR (United States) Director of International Affairs, American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations, BJORN STIGSON (Sweden) President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development PETER H.Y. WONG (China) Senior Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Hong Kong; and Board Member, International Federation of Accountants.

[3] Source: Wikipedia

[4] “However these debates will unfold, the Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.” [“Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists – including a Nobel prize-winner – who suggest that Earth has entered a new age of geological time.”] Source: Science Daily, March 26, 2010

[5] Are SRI funds as clean and green as you think? by Marc Gunther, December 4, 2012

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part II of an Investigative Report] [The “Climate Wealth” Opportunists]

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

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March 10, 2014

Part two of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Preface: A Coup d’etat of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

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CERES

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 “One recent weekday afternoon, three men walked out of the Environmental Defense Fund’s midtown Manhattan office on their way to have lunch together. On the left was EDF’s senior economist. On the right was an environmental expert in the Soviet government. Between them was a businessman, a trader in the nascent enterprise of buying and selling pollution rights. Together that trio forms a picture of how the new environmentalism is shaping up: global, more cooperative than confrontational – and with business at the center.” — ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The present can only be fully understood if one understands the past. Therefore, in order to understand the present day 350.org divestment campaign, we must look at the inception/creation of 350.org’s partner: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres).

Who is Ceres? Ceres is the 21st century puppeteers of Wall Street who, most recently, are pulling the strings behind the 350.org divestment campaign. Ceres represents the very heart of the nexus: millionaire liberals, their foundations, the “activists” they manage, and most importantly, where the plutocrats invest their personal wealth and that of their foundations. [“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Ceres relies on support from foundations, individuals and other funders to achieve our mission to integrate sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.” (Source: Ceres 2010 Annual Report)

On the Ceres Board of Directors we find key NGO affiliations: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, World Resources Institute, Ecological Solutions Inc. and Green America, to name a few. (The history of the Ceres board of directors is discussed at length, further in this report.)

 “Building climate change risks and opportunities into Wall Street research and analysis is a top Ceres priority.” — Ceres Annual Report 2006

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

 “… sceptics of the effectiveness of a voluntary environmental ethics question whether or not the Valdez principles contain more smoke than substance.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

On March 24, 1989, one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters in Earth’s history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shook public confidence in corporate America to the core. This catastrophic event, 5 years after the atrocious man-made disaster in Bhopal, brought corporate misconduct to the forefront. Corporate America found itself in the midst of an unprecedented public relations disaster.

 “…not long after the Exxon Valdez spill, 41% of Americans were angry enough to say they’d consider boycotting the company.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

Within six months of the Exxon disaster, the late Joan Bavaria, then-president of Trillium Asset Management, had formed a coalition that included high profile environmentalists. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) was formed with its 10-point code of conduct in hopes of reigning in corporate power. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] Presented to the public as The Valdez Principles [1] on September 7, 1989, the strategic name brilliantly exploited the Valdez crisis (the Principles are said to have actually been written before the Valdez spill, in 1988) to build its own brand recognition and value. Ceres would be the watchdog and savior, reigning in corporate power and making it behave. Although corporate America was reluctant, due to the growing hostility and resentment from the public it also recognized that this coalition offered a strategy (“a voluntary mechanism of corporate self-governance”) as a means of re-establishing public trust, securing brand reputation and most importantly, protecting profits and power. Its influence was enhanced by the fact that member institutional investors controlled over $150 billion in assets. Yet, the risks did not go unrecognized:

“A new basis for environmentally-related derivative suits may now be emerging. Various social-activist groups are successfully sponsoring shareholder resolutions at many major corporations to mandate greater environmental accountability by the corporations. These resolutions require the implementation of ‘Valdez Principles,’ which call for the corporations to curtail air and water pollution, conserve energy, market safe products, pay for damage caused to the environment, and make regular reports on environmental matters to the shareholders. If directors and officers of corporations which have adopted these Valdez-type resolutions fail to comply with their mandate, derivative suits against the directors and officers are likely to follow.” — ACE Bermuda News, July 1991

Corporate America held out. Ceres eventually buckled. The Valdez Principles became the CERES Principles (a 10-point code of environmental conduct) [2], with the most powerful language watered down and abolished. This was fully understood by Bavaria, who recognized that without the annual public audits in particular (principle #10), the principles would be meaningless. November 1990:

“Joan Bavaria, co-chairperson of CERES, believes that the first 8 principles are meaningless without the tenth principle allowing public accountability. The difference between having the company develop their own principles, then monitoring them internally is like putting a fox in the chicken house.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

In the meantime, environmentalism was changing and becoming big business. The world had embraced Neoliberalism (or had it shoved down their throats by the IMF and World Bank) with a statement of neoliberal aims being codified in the Washington Consensus in 1989. This was to be the means of liberating the market from state intrusion, which would instead serve to shield the expanding corporatocracy. Neoliberalism would prove to be the instrumental tool of choice in what would serve, protect and expand the power of the oligarchy.

From the CNNMoney Fortune article: ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, February 12, 1990:

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’

 

Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others.

 

Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

The primary NGOs involved in the Valdez Principles from inception were the Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The necessity of the “environmental movement” as the face and foundation of Ceres cannot be understated. In 1989 it was well understood by all players that NGOs were very much perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the public. The non-profit industrial complex was perhaps the only entity in the position of lending the much needed legitimacy and credibility that could mollify the public and allow the corporate world to continue their raping and pillaging, unregulated, under voluntary compliance. And while there is little doubt that well-intentioned individuals with sincere intentions were present in the formation of Ceres (as the corporate watchdog), many such “activists” will never admit to themselves that they are enablers of the very systems collectively destroying us. There is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. Privilege has a convenient way of convincing one’s self to be blind.

“The New York Times/CBS News poll regularly asks the public if ‘protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.’ In September 1981, 45% agreed and 42% disagreed with that plainly intemperate statement. Last June, 79% agreed and only 18% disagreed. For the first time, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, profess concern for the environment in roughly equal numbers.” ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The Valdez Principles, which morphed into the completely watered down Ceres Principles, became the perfect antidote to appease an outraged populace. Corporations could breathe a sigh of relief for a continued voluntary system of corporate self governance – freshly laundered in a light green wash. At a time when public support for environmental protection was unprecedented, restrictive federal regulation power would be avoided. Corporate supremacy would continue apace.

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

 “It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.” — Margaret Kimberley

The CERES “Sustainable Governance Project” (SGP) was officially announced to the public in Washington, DC, 2002. The non-profit industrial complex was and continues to be an instrumental tool in building public acceptance for expansion of neoliberal policies. Hence a key focus of SGP in 2001 (prior to the official launch) was “expanding collaboration with climate change experts at groups such as The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Redefining Progress, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.” (Source: 2001 Annual Report) Jump forward to 2013 and the Ceres network includes over 130 NGOs.

Today, Ceres serves as the underwriter and clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance. Such transformation is now well under way and evolving as witnessed under the guise of the “green economy.” Such strategy is calculated and requires tactical execution. For such transformation to be successful, key critical elements must coalesce: the real or perceived (manufactured/purposeful) decline of public regulatory power; the appearance of “civil society” (self-appointed NGOs) to emanate a patina of legitimacy, credibility and trust; the perception of “caring” corporations (see “Who Cares Wins“); and lastly, media to disseminate the compiled elements in endless waves. When these elements coalesce seamlessly, fertile ground is laid for private regulatory institutions to emerge. By stressing the “risks” (i.e. water scarcity, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.

The Ceres Network Companies (the first pillar) make up the crème de le crème (approx. 70 corporations) of the corporate world. Examples include Citi, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Suncor and Virgin. The Ceres Coalition (the second pillar) is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors, environmental and “social advocacy” groups, and public interest organizations. Examples of coalition members are Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rockefeller Financial Asset Management, NRDC, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (a founder of Avaaz) and The Carbon Neutral Company.

 

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Leadership Circle

Image above: Just a few of the 2009 and 2013 Ceres Conference Sponsors.

The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Ceres Membership Requirements] [3]

“Ceres is a national network of over [130*] investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and the capital markets to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Coalition members serve on our board of directors, participate on company stakeholder teams and engage with the Wall Street community to incorporate social and environmental costs into their research practices. More than [100*] companies worldwide, many of them Fortune 500 firms, make up the Ceres Network of Companies.” [4] [*Updated to reflect current status]

The network of Ceres companies represents a broad range of corporate interests, including oil and gas, electric utilities, and financial services. More than one-third of the company members are in the Fortune 500. Members include McDonalds Corporations, Bank of America Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Citi Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nike, PepsiCo, Suncor, Sunoco, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Virgin America, and Time Warner, to name just a few. Ceres has close ties with high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, the American Bar Association and many of the world’s most powerful corporations. The forté of Ceres is briefing/advising powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on risk and opportunity.

In addition to working with investors in the Ceres Coalition, Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR):

“INCR members, whose collective assets total about $[11*] trillion, include many of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers.” [*Updated to reflect current status]

INCR has grown from 10 institutional investors managing $600 billion (2003) to 100 institutional investors managing more than $11 trillion in assets (2012).

In 1997 CERES launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard for corporate voluntary sustainability reporting implemented by more than 1,800 corporations worldwide.

Benefits for corporations adopting GRI “standards” included/include guideline tools for “brand and reputation enhancement, differentiation in the marketplace and protection from brand erosion resulting from the actions of suppliers or competitors, networking and communications.” [Source] Since releasing its first Reporting Guidelines in 2000, its global network has grown to more than 600 organizational stakeholders and over 30,000 people representing different sectors and constituencies. GRI has also developed key strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organization for Standardization. [Source]

Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres (2012) and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ INCR. Mindy Lubber’s blog “Sustainable Capitalism” is integrated with Forbes. Lubber is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post (acquired by Time Warner in 2011) and Forbes. Lubber has been honored by the United Nations as one of the “World’s Top Leaders of Change.” (Other award winners were the corporations Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart and Reebok). Lubber was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship magazine and is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Skeletons (and Skolls) in the Ceres/1Sky Closet

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Photo [Source: Skoll Foundation]: Green capitalist Al Gore with (left to right) Chris Fox of Ceres, Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky (350.org officially merged with 1Sky in 2011), Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and Alessandro Galli of Global Footprint Network.

In 2009, 1Sky’s campaign director, Gillian Caldwell, a lawyer by training, was paid $203,620 (US) through the Rockefeller Family Fund. Although McKibben often refers to 350.org/1Sky as a “scruffy little outfit” – a salary of more than $200,000 is hardly typical of a legitimate grassroots organization.

In the Dec 3, 2009 article Prepping for Copenhagen as found on the Skoll Foundation website, the author reports, “The Skoll Foundation, along with a number of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners, will be participating in the Copenhagen meetings on climate change later this month. Reflecting the high caliber of environmental leaders in the Skoll portfolio, some 10 Skoll social entrepreneurs and/or their organizations will be at Copenhagen: ACORE, Amazon Conservation Team, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia, Global Footprint Network, Health Care Without Harm, IDE-India, and Gillian Caldwell (formerly of Witness), representing 1Sky.” [Emphasis added.]

In the December 15, 2009 article More from the Ground in Copenhagen, also featured on the Skoll Foundation website, Skoll CEO Sally Osberg reports:

 Just a couple of highlights from the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Leadership on climate change – both moral and real – is coming from the sub-nation state levels and small countries.

What Osberg neglects to report is the fact that these very states were deliberately and grossly undermined by the non-profit industrial complex, with corporate TckTckTck, 350.org(1Sky) and Avaaz at the helm of the elitist fifth column. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide | Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Who Cares Wins

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 “To address the tough environmental and social issues facing global corporations today, we need to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders who challenge us to innovate and operate in a sustainable manner. No one has access to such a vast network of valuable, independent input as Ceres.” — Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

It is clear why branded agencies such as 350.org, SumofUs, Avaaz et al, who dominate social media, are heavily financed (and in many cases were created by) the oligarchs. Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, founder of One Young World, (recently a featured speaker at the 2013 World Form on Natural Capital), makes the case that “social media and corporate social responsibility are not two separate subjects; rather, they are intrinsically interlinked. Businesses that embrace the new rules are set to both make more money and become forces for good in the world.”

“Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” — Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, Global Chief Executive, Havas Worldwide, Creator of the “TckTckTck” campaign and Co-founder of One Young World.

Those born into today’s “young world” are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation. For adults who willingly offer up their children as sacrificial lambs to appease the corporate gods, denial must be considered the preferred opium of the 21st century.

global-youth-summit-one-young-world-600-50845

The name of the game is this: Corporations present themselves as humble and caring elements integral to society with a fierce determination to “do better.” Rather than refusing to comply with ethical environmental and social conduct, which only serves to tarnish brand image, the corporations embrace and welcome all criticisms. This stratagem is made even more effective when CEOs unabashedly take the first opportunity in any given situation to point out the harmful impacts of their industry, articulated with deep concern, followed by a laundry list of all the magnificent things the corporation is looking at for the future that they believe will alleviate environmental degradation and unbridled exploitation.

 

Next: Part III

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] The Valdez Principles: In September 1989, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies set forth the following ten broad principles for evaluating corporate activities that directly or indirectly affect the biosphere.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will minimize and strive to eliminate the release of any pollutant that may cause environmental damage to air, water, or earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard habitats in rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans and will minimize contributing to global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain or smog.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve nonrenewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning. We will protect wildlife habitat, open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

We will minimize the creation of waste, especially hazardous waste, and wherever possible recycle materials. We will dispose of all wastes through safe and responsible methods.

4. Wise Use of Energy

We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources to meet our needs. We will invest in improved energy efficiency and conservation in our operations. We will maximize the energy efficiency of products we produce or sell.

5. Risk Reduction

We will minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe technologies and operating procedures and by being constantly prepared for emergencies.

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

We will sell products or services that minimize adverse environmental impacts and that are safe as consumers commonly use them. We will inform consumers of the environmental impacts of our products or services.

7. Damage Compensation

We will take responsibility for any harm we cause to the environment by making every effort to fully restore the environment and to compensate those persons who are adversely affected.

8. Disclosure

We will disclose to our employees and to the public incidents relating to our operations that cause environmental harm or pose health or safety hazards. We will disclose potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations, and we will not take any action against employees who report any condition that creates a danger to the environment or poses health and safety hazards.

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

At least one member of the Board of Directors will be a person qualified to represent environmental interests. We will commit management resources to implement these Principles, including the funding of an office of vice president for environmental affairs or an equivalent executive position, reporting directly to the CEO, to monitor and report upon our implementation efforts.

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

We will conduct and make public an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles and in complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout our worldwide operations. We will work toward the timely creation of independent environmental audit procedures which we will complete annually and make available to the public.

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability]

[2] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.]

[4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”