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The Unannounced Death of the Green New Deal: Part 1 – What Happened to the People’s Plan?

Wrong Kind of Green

September 11, 2020

By Michael Swifte

 

 

Is this a people’s plan or is this a process to get elected officials a policy in a timeline that will allow them to promote it around the 2020 election?

 

— John Washington speaking on behalf of Climate Justice Alliance to New Consensus and networks on 18 March 2019 [Source]

 

False Solutions continue to poison, displace, and imprison communities

 

Nuclear, fracking, “clean coal”, incineration and even prisons are offered as economic transition solutions to the climate crisis, but only continue to harm the health of people and the planet. The path of extracting, transporting, processing, and consuming these technologies is paved with communities riddled with cancer, reproductive and respiratory disease, among other devastating health impacts. These false solutions turn low-income communities, communities of color and indigenous communities into sacrifice zones. These do not move us toward a just transition.

 

Climate Justice Alliance, Just Transition Principles, 21 April 2017 [Source]

 

You could say that the Green New Deal died when the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations came through, or perhaps that was the moment we knew that the Jemez Principles  and the principles of a Just Transition had been abandoned more than a year before? Perhaps they were abandoned shortly after John Washington’s straight forward, perfectly articulated warning to New Consensus? Or perhaps they were abandoned as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey prepared the Green New Deal resolution with it’s “clean” and “net zero” language replacing the language of fossil fuel phase outs and 100% Renewables? Perhaps the Sunrise Movement, New Consensus, Justice Democrats and Data for Progress all fell in line with the net zero language of ruling class carbon accounts while paying lip service to fighting fossil fuels and pushing the advocates for First Nations and frontline communities further from the negotiating table?

I’ve looked and I’ve watched and I may be wrong, but it seems like the concerns of the Climate Justice Alliance fell off the map in March 2019 after they presented their position on the importance of observing the Jemez principles in the development of the Green New Deal to New Consensus and its connected networks. At some point between the first promises of a fossil fuel phase out and no new nuclear energy that were part of the notional Green New Deal endorsed by 350 dot org and 600+ of their NGO friends in January 2019, and the release of the Unity Task Force recommendations, any notion of actually centering-frontline-communities in the development of a Green New Deal were, it seems, abandoned. Not long after the Green New Deal Resolution was introduced on 7 February 2019, 350 dot org’s Julian Brave Noisecat took up a key position at Data for Progress whose September 2018 report on the Green New Deal more completely resembles the net zero language of “clean energy” rather than the phase out language of “100% Renewables”. The exact phrase Bria Viniate used in reference to the Ocasio-Cortez/Sunrise version of the Green New Deal in Vogue shortly before the November 2018 midterms is “100% Renewables”. The new phrase at the center of the Green New Deal after the introduction of the Green New Deal Resolution is “100% clean, renewable and zero emissions”.

 

Key Documents

Jemez Principles: https://www.ejnet.org/ej/jemez.pdf

Just Transition Principles: https://climatejusticealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CJA_JustTransition_Principles_final_hi-rez.pdf

People of Color Environmental Justice: “Principles of Working Together” http://www.ejnet.org/ej/workingtogether.pdf

Green New Deal Resolution: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hres109/text

Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations: https://joebiden.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/UNITY-TASK-FORCE-RECOMMENDATIONS.pdf

Data for Progress – Green New Deal Report: https://www.dataforprogress.org/green-new-deal/

Fake it until you make new plans?

19 November 2018 – January 10 2019

When First Nations groups like the Lakota Law Project celebrated the creation of a Green New Deal in November 2018 they did so after hearing Ocasio-Cortez tell of her experiences at Standing Rock and saying “we have to get to 100 percent renewable energy in 10 years”.

Now, we find ourselves in this struggle together. Every aspect of the Green New Deal must be implemented now.

 

Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota People’s Law Project lead counsel [SOURCE]

In December 2018 Climate Justice Alliance issued a statement that made it clear that it’s primary demand was that Green New Deal builders go to the grass roots and take direction from there.

The proposal for the GND was made public at the grasstops level. When we consulted with many of our own communities, they were neither aware of, nor had they been consulted about the launch of the GND.

 

Climate Justice Alliance [SOURCE]

In January of 2019 Climate Justice Alliance and Indigenous Environment Network made very clear the commitments that would need to be upheld to keep a Green New Deal functioning.

What we want to do is strengthen and center the Green New Deal in environmental justice communities that have both experience and lived history of confronting the struggle against fossil fuel industries,

 

Angela Adrar [SOURCE]

 

The way that the plan was developed and shared is one of its greatest weaknesses,

 

Angela Adrar [SOURCE]

One of the most significant statements, attributable to Angela Adrar, is hard to date. The comment appears in the Green New Deal section of the CJA website but I could not find it in any published documents. It contains a dire warning about “Net Zero” and the burden that will be felt by frontline communities.

 

Allowing for neoliberal constructs such as Net Zero emissions, which equate carbon emission offsets and technology investments with real emissions reductions at source, would only exacerbate existing pollution burdens on frontline communities.

 

Angela Adrar [SOURCE]

On the eve of the release of the letter to congress from 626 environmental groups including 350 dot org Tom Goldtooth from Indigenous Environment Network reaffirmed the need for Green New Deal proponents to engage under the appropriate principles.

We’re asking that leadership of the Green New Deal meet with us and have a discussion how we can strengthen this campaign with the participation of the communities most impacted.

 

Tom Goldtooth [SOURCE]

Speaking upon the release of the letter of 626 groups and in reference to the input from IEN and CJA, Goldtooth indicated that commitment to “real solutions” were hard won. It’s important to note that at the time of the release of this letter Ocasio-Cortez was on record supporting “100% Renewables” having tweeted a call for a “wartime-level” mobilization in a January 2, 2019 tweet. [LINK]

Of course, we really had to assert ourselves on different issues that are very dear to us on seeking real solutions to mitigate climate change.

 

Tom Goldtooth

 

Goldtooth goes on to make it very clear that “real solutions” do not include carbon capture utilization and storage.

The techno fixes are very critical as well. In our analysis, it’s part of the false solutions. Carbon capture and storage, for an example, the technology is still being tested out there, concerns around leakage, and a lot of the private sector, the polluters, will benefit now, only to find out that there’s complications, and really justifying the offset regimes that happen in this scenario to where carbon capture and storage just isn’t working. Carbon capture use and storage and these other areas are very critical concerns with us. We have formed solidarity with other entities that have been addressing this issue as well. And so, we’re very thankful to all the other green groups, the six hundred and twenty some signatures, that they stand with us in looking for real solutions. [SOURCE]

Below is a key passage from the strongly aspirational letter of the 626 groups, January 10, 2019. The claims within have been rendered into empty promises since the introduction of the Green New Deal Resolution. More than a dozen bipartisan bills aimed at expanding fossil fuel extraction are making their way through congress. Bills designed; to expand the refining and use of fossil fuels through 45Q tax credits & modifications to the tax code; develop pipeline corridors; provide support and funding for R&D; and enable the use of financial instruments like private activity bonds. Scarce little has been done by Green New Deal Resolution cosponsors, proponent NGOs or climate justice and progressive NGOs to fight against the bipartisan 45Q bills or indeed in support of the solitary bill designed to eliminate the 45Q tax credit, the End Polluter Welfare Act 2020.

Further, we will vigorously oppose any legislation that: (1) rolls back existing environmental, health, and other protections, (2) protects fossil fuel and other dirty energy polluters from liability, or (3) promotes corporate schemes that place profits over community burdens and benefits, including market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage,nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy. [Source]

The resolution and the handover to Democrat apparatchiks

4 February 2019 – 18 March 2019

Julian Brave Noisecat was able to see and respond to the language of the Green New Deal resolution before it was introduced. On February 4, 2019 Noisecat made comments published in Politico that show him attempting to bridge the contradiction between fighting for a fossil fuel phase out and fighting for net-zero.

 The language I read was clean, renewable, zero emissions — which is that ‘keep the door open’ approach,” said Julian NoiseCat, policy director with the climate group 350.org, adding that his organization pressed Ocasio-Cortez to include a statement requiring the phase-out of fossil fuels. [SOURCE]

 Noisecat made his comment while he was still employed by 350 dot org. Within a couple of months he would become the Director of Green New Deal Strategy with Data for Progress. While 350 dot org, in theory, still support a fossil fuel phase out, Data for Progress have always used the language as it appeared in the GND resolution. There is nothing that Data for Progress are doing or have done that is strategically supporting a fossil fuel phase out. As reported on January 18, 2019 a few weeks before the GND resolution was published, Greg Carlock, a key author of the Data for Progress – Green New Deal Report published in September 2018, thinks carbon capture utilization and storage is inevitable.

There is no scenario produced by the IPCC or the UN where we hit mid-century decarbonization without some kind of carbon capture.

Carlock also works for the World Resources Institute (WRI) as Manager for Climate Action and Data. WRI have never been committed to phasing out fossil fuels or building 100% renewables.

 

It is firmly understood that going 100 percent renewable in 10 years is technically impossible—like, physically and engineering-wise, it is impossible, [SOURCE] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/first-fight-about-democrats-climate-green-new-deal/580543/

In testimony to the House Resources Committee on February 6, 2019, at a hearing titled: ‘Climate Change: The Impacts and the Need to Act’, Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Uprose and steering committee co-chair of Climate Justice Alliance reiterated the need for a just transition.

VIDEO: The House Committee on Natural Resources hosted the hearing “Climate Change: The Impacts and the Need to Act”:

 

To effectively tackle climate change, we must invest in a Just Transition toward specifically local, living economies of scale.

 

Just Transition is a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy – not just for workers but for whole communities. This means approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste-free.

 

This transition away from fossil fuels itself must be just and equitable, redressing past harms and creating new relationships of power for the future through reparations, living wage jobs and economic and social development that aims to address historical harm and discrimination. If the process of transition is not just, the outcome will never be. [Source]

An FAQ document that was apparently released in error on February 7, 2019 in advance of the introduction of the Green New Deal Resolution shows that the team formulating the resolution were cognisant of the implications of the change in language from “100% Renewables” to “100% clean and renewable” or “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy” which became the specific language in the resolution.

 

 Why 100% clean and renewable and not just 100% renewable? Are you saying we won’t transition off fossil fuels?

 

Yes, we are calling for a full transition off fossil fuels and zero greenhouse gases. Anyone who has read the resolution sees that we spell this out through a plan that calls for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy. [SOURCE: Green New Deal FAQ Fact Sheet, February 7, 2019]

 

On February 7, 2019 Indigenous Environment Network released their ‘talking points’ on the Green New Deal resolution offering an instant rejection of the “net-zero” language.

The primary goal of the AOC-Markey Green New Deal (GND) Resolution is to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”. We reject net-zero emissions language (as well as carbon neutral and zero-carbon) because it implies the use of carbon accounting that includes various types of carbon pricing systems, offsets and/or Payments for Ecological Services (PES).

 

We can no longer leave any options for the fossil fuel industry to determine the economic and energy future of this country. And until the Green New Deal can be explicit in this demand as well as closing the loop on harmful incentives, we cannot fully endorse the resolution. [SOURCE]

In response to the release of the Green New Deal resolution the Indigenous Environment Network released a statement on February 8, 2019. In it they make very clear their position on nuclear energy and their concerns stemming from the door being left open for nuclear in the resolution language.

The Green New Deal (GND) resolutio[n], as it is written right now, with no exclusion of nuclear energy to be considered clean energy, would open the door for Yucca Mountain to be reconsidered for dumping the nuclear energy waste. It would create the largest nuclear waste transportation campaign in history, possibly endangering residents in 44 states, thousands of towns and cities, and our Indigenous territories. [SOURCE]

It’s clear from Ed Markey’s dismissive statements at a press conference on February 11, 2019 unveiling the Green New Deal Resolution that there was a clear break in language of and the responsibility for the Green New Deal. His responses suppose that moderate Democrats should be kept happy. At the same moment First Nations and frontline advocates were clearly unhappy.

We’ve drafted it in a way that can get the support of progressives and moderates inside our caucus.

 

Ed Markey

 

That’s what you should focus on. Focus on the resolution.

 

Ed Markey [SOURCES]

The language of the resolution itself calls for the exercise of the same values enshrined in the Jemez principles.

in transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses. [SOURCE]

In her February 13, 2019 piece for The Intercept following the introduction of the GND resolution Naomi Klein did not mention the disappearance of a fossil fuel phase out or note the change in language.  If 350 had pressed Ocasio-Cortez on a phase out like Noisecat says, you would think it ought to be mentioned by 350’s leading light? Klein instead called for vigilance and ensuring responsiveness to pressure from frontline communities.

The Green New Deal will need to be subject to constant vigilance and pressure from experts who understand exactly what it will take to lower our emissions as rapidly as science demands, and from social movements that have decades of experience bearing the brunt of false climate solutions, whether nuclear power, the chimera of carbon capture and storage, or carbon offsets. [SOURCE]

By mid March 2019 the Climate Justice Alliance were pushed to the point where they felt they had to ask some questions about the values held by New Consensus: Who funds it? and, To whom is it accountable?

To this end, in order for us to continue in this process, we have four clear demands:

 

  1. Include both the Jemez Principles and the Environmental Justice Principles of Working Together in all work stemming from this gathering and forthcoming;

 

  1. Disclose and maintain transparency in funding sources, current and emerging, and commit that funding directly to those most impacted, including frontline and base-building organizing groups, alliances and networks for the development of policy priorities and language;

 

  1. Clearly outline who New Consensus is accountable to and who it works for; and why is there redundancy, going into communities where work is already being done when the country is vast and there are so many other places where there isn’t yet consensus;

 

  1. Commit to New Consensus’ participation in a strategy meeting with CJA and allied frontline partners in order to move our collective conversation and possible relationship forward, we would ask that a MOA be entered into between New Consensus and CJA frontlines.[SOURCE]

John Washington presented his strident arguments to new Consensus and GND partners on March 18, 2019 following the reading of the CJA statement by Miya Yoshitani. Robinson Meyer reported in The Atlantic in June 2019 that “difficulties came to a head” that day, but he did not specify which 2 activists raised issues.

The meeting was bumpy from the first hour, when two environmental-justice activists interrupted proceedings to protest the absence of the Climate Justice Alliance, a national network of urban, rural, and indigenous groups. The alliance had been asked to endorse the Green New Deal, but it had not been asked to help write it, the activists charged.

 

But one of the major demands the environmental-justice activists raised at the meeting has gone publicly unanswered. They asked a simple question: Who’s funding New Consensus? [SOURCE]

The Series

In Part 2 of this series I will look more closely at the negative impacts of marginalizing First Nations, frontline and grass roots voices, and how the fuzzy “clean” language of the Green New Deal Resolution left room for all the Democratic presidential hopefuls to capitalise on climate and justice issues, even when their real commitments would put them at odds with a fossil fuel phase out or 100% renewables.

In Part 3 I will look in depth at the neglected battlefields in stopping fossil fuel extraction including the bipartisan bills supporting expansion of the already misused 45Q tax credit making their way through congress, and the forces lining up to profit from the absence of any real commitment to eliminating fossil fuel subsidies from the DNC through the Progressive Caucus and onto the Green New Deal proponents.

Conclusion

Angela Adrar observed that the way the grass roots component of the Green New Deal was developed is its “greatest weakness” and that the “grasstops” announcement of the Green New Deal concept was not preceded by consultation with grass roots networks. We should keep this in mind whenever we think about the Green New Deal. We may never discover what happened after the March 2019 New Consensus meeting, but we do know there is an enormous responsibility on the shoulders of any honest brokers to redress the relationships compromised in the process of delivering policies for Democrat presidential hopefuls.

We should take as a warning and a lesson the words of Mark Charles at the Native American Presidential Forum in August 2019 as reported by Julian Brave Noisecat.

Now, if you have a house that’s built on a bad foundation, you’re going to get cracks in your walls. You’re going to get gaps in your windows. And you’re going to get a creaky floor,” he said, his oration reaching its soaring conclusion. “And you can scream and you can fight about what color to paint the walls, what kind of calking to use in your windows, and what kind of carpet to put on your floor, but until you go into the basement and examine your foundation and do something to firm those up and make those strong—you are never going to fix the problems in the house.” The audience cheered. Some women who had been cautious with their lele’s earlier really let loose.” [SOURCE]

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary

The Grayzone

September 7, 2020

By Max Blumenthal

 

“We must take control of our environmental movement and our future from billionaires and their permanent war on Planet Earth. They are not our friends.”

 

-Jeff Gibbs, director of “Planet of the Humans”

Green' billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of 'Planet of the Humans' documentary | The Grayzone

 

It is hard to think of an American film that provoked a greater backlash in 2020 than “Planet of the Humans.” Focused on the theme of planetary extinction and fanciful proposals to ward it off, the documentary was released for free on YouTube on April 21. The date was significant not only because it was the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but because a global pandemic was tearing through America’s social fabric and exposing the human toll of the country’s globalized, growth-obsessed economic model.“The Michael Moore-produced ‘Planet of the Humans’ faced a coordinated suppression campaign led by professional climate activists backed by the same ‘green’ billionaires, Wall Street investors, industry insiders and family foundations skewered in the film.”

Even before “Planet of the Humans” was released, however, the producers of the film had fallen under pressure to retract it. Upon the film’s release, a who’s who of self-styled climate justice activists proceeded to blanket the internet with accusations that it was a racist, “eco-fascist” screed that deliberately advanced the interests of the oil and gas industry. When “Planet of the Humans” was briefly yanked from YouTube thanks to a questionable copyright claim by an angry climate warrior, the free speech organization Pen America issued a remarkable statement characterizing the demands for retraction as a coordinated censorship campaign.

What had this documentary done to inflame so much opposition from the faces and voices of professional climate justice activism? First, it probed the well-established shortcomings of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power that have been marketed as a green panacea. “Planet of the Humans” portrayed these technologies as anything but green, surveying the environmental damage already caused by solar and wind farms, which require heavy mining and smelting to produce, destroy swaths of pristine land, and sometimes demand natural gas to operate.

While major environmental outfits have lobbied for a Green New Deal to fuel a renewables-based industrial revolution, and are now banking on a Democratic presidency to enact their proposals, “Planet of the Humans” put forward a radical critique that called their entire agenda into question.

As the director of the documentary, Jeff Gibbs, explained, “When we focus on climate change only as the thing destroying the planet and we demand solutions, we get used by forces of capitalism who want to continue to sell us the disastrous illusion that we can mine and smelt and industrialize our way out of this extinction event. And again, behind the scenes, much of what we’re doing to ‘save’ the planet is to burn the ‘bio’ of the planet as green energy.”

“Planet of the Humans” crossed another bright green line by taking aim at the self-proclaimed climate justice activists themselves, painting them as opportunists who had been willingly co-opted by predatory capitalists. The filmmakers highlighted the role of family foundations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in cultivating a class of professional activists that tend toward greenwashing partnerships with Wall Street and the Democratic Party to coalitions with anti-capitalist militants and anti-war groups.

Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org and guru of climate justice activism, is seen throughout “Planet of the Humans” consorting with Wall Street executives and pushing fossil fuel divestment campaigns that enable powerful institutions to reshuffle their assets into plastics and mining while burnishing their image. McKibben has even called for environmentalists to cooperate with the Pentagon, one of the world’s worst polluters and greatest exporters of violence, because “when it speaks frankly, [it] has the potential to reach Americans who won’t listen to scientists.”

Perhaps the most provocative critique contained in “Planet of the Humans” was the portrayal of full-time climate warriors like McKibben as de facto lobbyists for green tech billionaires and Wall Street investors determined to get their hands on the whopping $50 trillion profit opportunity that a full transition to renewable technology represents. Why have figures like Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Michael Bloomberg, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Tesla founder Elon Musk been plowing their fortunes into climate advocacy? The documentary taunted those who accepted these oligarchs’ gestures of environmental concern at face value.

For years, leftist criticism of professional climate activism has been largely relegated to blogs like Wrong Kind of Green, which maintains an invaluable archive of critical work on the co-optation of major environmental organizations by the billionaire class. Prominent greens might have been able to dismiss scrutiny from radical corners of the internet as background noise; however, they were unable to ignore “Planet of the Humans.”

That was because Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore put his name on the film as executive producer, alongside his longtime producer, Gibbs, and the scholar-researcher Ozzie Zehner. “Michael Moore validates this film,” Josh Fox, the filmmaker who led the campaign against “Planet of the Humans,” told me. “So if Michael Moore’s name is not on that film, it’s like a thousand other crappy movies.”

By racking up millions of views after just a month on YouTube, “Planet of the Humans” threatened to provoke an unprecedented debate about the corruption of environmental politics by the one percent. But thanks to the campaign by Fox and his allies, much of the debate wound up focused on the film itself, and the credibility of its producers.

“I had some sense that the film was going to ruffle some feathers, but I was unprepared for that response from what ended up being a group of people who are like an echo chamber – all related to the same funding organizations,” said Zehner. “It’s a pretty tight circle and it was a really strong, virulent pushback.”

The line of attack that may have gained the most traction in progressive circles portrayed a convoluted section of the film on the dangers of population growth and overconsumption as Malthusian, and even racist. Zehner told me he considered the attacks opportunistic, but “from a public relations standpoint, they were effective. What we were trying to do was highlight the dangers of a consumption-based economic model.”

The backlash to “Planet of the Humans” also related to its portrayal of renewables as badly flawed sources of energy that were also environmentally corrosive. Many of those attacks painted the film’s presentation of solar and wind to present the documentary as out of date and filled with misinformation.

Oddly, the professional activists who coordinated the campaign to bury “Planet of the Humans” glossed over an entire third of the documentary which focused on the corruption and co-optation of environmental politics by “green” foundations and “green” investors.

As this investigation will reveal, those climate justice activists were bound together by support from the same family foundations, billionaire investors, and industry interests that were skewered in the film.

Josh Fox Planet of the Humans billionaires

Filmmaker Josh Fox

“Censorship, plain and simple”

The ringleader of the push to suppress “Planet of the Humans” was Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of the film “Gasland,” which highlighted the destructive practices inherent to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fox launched the campaign with a sign-on letter calling for the documentary to be retracted by its producers. Then, in an incendiary takedown published in The Nation, he branded Michael Moore “the new flack for oil and gas,” a racist, and “eco-fascist” for producing the film.

As videographer Matt Orfalea reported, Fox’s crusade began the night Moore’s film was released, with an unhinged mass email to online publishers that blasted the documentary as “A GIGANTIC CROCK OF SHIT.” Fox commanded, “It must come down off your pages immediately.”

Hours later, Fox fired off another breathless email to a group of public relations professionals. “A number of reputable websites are hosting this abomination and I need your support in getting them to take it down,” he wrote. The following day, Fox took to Twitter to assure his ally, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, “We are on it.”

Next, Fox organized a sign-on letter demanding the film “be retracted by its creators and distributors and an apology rendered for its misleading content.” Among the letter’s signatories was academic and renewables advocate Leah C. Stokes, who proclaimed her wish in an article in Vox that “this film will be buried, and few will watch it or remember it.”

On April 24, Josh Fox claimed he had successfully pressured an online video library, Films For Action, into removing “Planet of the Humans” from its website. His victory lap turned out to be premature, as Films For Action re-posted the film and publicly condemned Fox’s campaign to drive it into oblivion.

The relentless push by Fox and others eventually triggered a striking statement by PEN America, the free speech advocacy group. “Calls to pull a film because of disagreement with its content are calls for censorship, plain and simple,” PEN America declared.

“Listen, nobody called to censor this movie,” Fox insisted to me. “We asked the filmmakers as part of their community to retract it, because it unfairly attacked people that we know are good, honest dealers and its premise was wrong and false.”

Fox likened “Planet of the Humans” to radio host Mike Daisey’s monologue on visiting the Foxconn factory in China where iPhones are made, and which was retracted by NPR after major fabrications came to light. “It’s clear to me that the filmmakers… put incorrect information into the film that they knew was incorrect. That thing was out of date,” Fox said of the Moore-produced documentary. “And many, many people from within our community reached out to them, which I didn’t know actually, prior to the release of the film and said, ‘This information is incorrect. What are you doing?’”

Fox was particularly incensed at Michael Moore for attaching his reputation to the film. He described the famed director as one of “the bad guys”; “a megalomaniacal multi-millionaire who craves attention unlike anyone I’ve ever met”; “the 800-pound elephant in the room”; the maker of a “racist” and “eco-fascist” film; and “a multi-millionaire circus barker” guilty of “journalistic malpractice.”

“The real bully is Michael Moore here,” Fox maintained. “It’s not me.”

Though Fox and his allies did not succeed in erasing “Planet of the Humans” from the internet, the documentary was momentarily removed from YouTube on the grounds of a copyright claim by a British photographer named Toby Smith. In a tweet he later deleted, Smith said his opposition to the film was “personal,” blasting it as a “baseless, shite doc built on bull-shit and endless copyright infringements.”

As the attacks on “Planet of the Humans” snowballed, director Jeff Gibbs attempted to defend his film. Following an article at The Guardian branding the film as “dangerous,” Gibbs emailed the paper’s opinion editors requesting a right of reply. He told me they never responded. However, just hours after Toby Smith’s politically-motivated copyright claim prompted YouTube to remove Gibbs’ documentary, he said The Guardian reached out to him for comment. “How’d they catch that so early?” he wondered.

A few left-wing journalists tried to push back on the attacks as well. But in almost every case, they were spiked by editors at ostensibly progressive journals. Christopher Ketcham, author of “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West,” was among those unable to find a venue in which to defend the documentary.

“I have come across very few editors radical enough to have the exceedingly difficult conversation about the downscaling, simplification, and the turn (in the developed world) toward diminished affluence that a 100 percent renewable energy system will necessarily entail,” Ketcham reflected to me. “You see, they have to believe that they can keep their carbon-subsidized entitlements, their toys, their leisure travel — no behavioral change or limits needed — and it will all be green and ‘sustainable.’”

Naomi Klein, perhaps the most prominent left-wing writer on climate-related issues in the West, did not weigh in to defend “Planet of the Humans.” Instead, the Intercept columnist, social activist, and Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University was an early participant in the campaign to suppress the film.

According to McKibben, “Naomi [Klein] had in fact taken Moore aside in an MSNBC greenroom” before the documentary’s release to lobby him against publishing the film. Klein later signed Josh Fox’s open letter demanding the film be retracted.

On Twitter, Klein condemned “Planet of the Humans” as “truly demoralizing,” and promoted a “big blog/fact check” of the film by Ketan Joshi, a former communications officer for the Australian wind farm company Infigen Energy.

Mining a green future and burying the cost

Like most opponents of “Planet of the Humans,” Ketan Joshi painted the documentary as “a dumb old bull in the china shop that is 2020’s hard-earned climate action environment.” And along with other critics, he accused the film’s co-producers, Gibbs and Zehner, of wildly misrepresenting the efficiency of renewables.

To illustrate his point, he referenced a scene depicting the Cedar Street Solar Array in Lansing, Michigan with flexible solar panels running at 8% efficiency – purportedly enough to generate electricity for just 10 homes. Because that scene was part of a historical sequence filmed in 2008, Joshi dismissed it as an example of the film’s “extreme oldness.”

However, this February, the solar trade publication PV Magazine found that Tesla’s newest line of flexible solar shingles had an efficiency rate of 8.1% – almost exactly the same as those depicted in “Planet of the Humans.”

While it is true that mono-crystalline solar panels boast a higher efficiency rate (between 15% and 18% in commercially available form), they were also on the market back in 2008. These panels are significantly more expensive than the flexible, less efficient panels, however. And their efficiency levels do not account for the intermittency inherent to solar energy, which does not work well in cloudy or dark conditions.

Yet according to Josh Fox, the most vehement opponent of “Planet of the Humans,” the planet-saving capacity of solar and other supposedly clean forms of energy was so well-established it was beyond debate.

“The premise of the film is renewable energy doesn’t work and is dependent on fossil fuels. And that is patently ridiculous,” Fox remarked to me. “And the reason why I got into this is because I had young environmentalists – young people who are steadfast campaigners – calling me in the middle of the night, freaking out, [telling me] ‘I can’t believe this!’ And I looked at them and I said, ‘Well, there’s a reason why you can’t believe this; it’s because it’s not true.’”

But was the presentation of renewable energy sources in “Planet of the Humans” actually false? Ecological economist William Rees has claimed that “despite rapid growth in wind and solar generation, the green energy transition is not really happening.” That might be because it is chasing energy growth instead of curtailing it. Rees pointed out that the surge in global demand for electricity last year “exceeded the total output of the world’s entire 30-year accumulation of solar power installations.”

Are there not reasonable grounds then to be concerned about the practicality of a full transition to renewables, especially in a hyper-capitalist, growth-obsessed economy like that of the United States?

A September 2018 scientific study delivered some conclusions that contradicted the confident claims of renewables advocates. A research team measured solar thermal plants currently in operation around the world and found that they are dependent on the “intensive use of materials,” which is code for heavily mined minerals.

minerals renewable energy IEA

Minerals needed to produce renewable energy (Source: International Energy Agency / IEA)

 

Further, the researchers found that the output of these plants was marred by “significant seasonal intermittence” due to shifting weather patterns and the simple fact that the sun does not always shine.

The negative impact of massive wind farms on the environment and marginalized communities – an issue highlighted in “Planet of the Humans” – is also a serious concern, especially in the Global South. Anthropologist and “Renewing Destruction: Wind Energy Development, Conflict and Resistance in a Latin American Context” author Alexander Dunlap published a peer-reviewed 2017 study of wind farms in the indigenous Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, which has been marketed as one of the most ideal wind generation sites in the world. Dunlap found that the supposedly renewable projects “largely reinforced income inequality, furthered poverty entrenchment and increased food vulnerability and worker dependency on the construction of more wind parks, which cumulatively has led to an increase in work-related out-migration and environmental degradation.”

When wind turbines reach the end of their life cycle, their fiberglass blades, which can be as long as a football field, are impossible to recycle. As a result, they are piling up in rural dumping sites across the US. Meanwhile, the environmentalist magazine Grist warned this August of a “solar e-waste glut” that will produce “megatons of toxic trash” when solar panels begin to lose efficiency and die.

In response to my questions about so-called renewable energy, Fox referred me to a close ally, Anthony Ingraffea, who signed his letter calling for “Planet of the Humans” to be pulled. A civil engineer and co-founder of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, which advocates for renewables, Ingraffea is a former oil and gas industry insider who turned into a forceful opponent of fracking. In the past six years, he has produced scientific assessments for the governments of New York State and California on a transition to mostly renewable energy sources.

Ingraffea slammed “Planet of the Humans” as “way off base” and derided research by Ozzie Zehner, the co-producer, as “conspiracy theory shit.” He contrasted his credentials with those of Zehner, boasting that while he has earned 15,000 citations in peer-reviewed academic journals during his career as an engineer, Zehner had chalked up a mere 300.

When I turned to the subject of social and environmental damage caused by so-called renewables, Ingraffea argued that the burning, storing, and transportation of fossil fuels outweighed any of those costs. According to Ingraffea, when New York State makes a decisive transition to renewables, only about 2% of the state’s land would be occupied by solar and wind farms – which translates to about 1,100 square miles.

He pointed to the New York State Assembly’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as an embodiment of the foresight of proponents of a near-total transition to renewable energy. The bill, which calls for the state to run 70% of its publicly generated energy off of “renewable energy systems” by 2030, also mandates that “35 percent of investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds [be] invested in disadvantaged communities.”

“That’s wisdom speaking,” Ingraffea said of the legislation. “That’s telling you that yes, we are aware of the problem that you said we should be aware of. Yeah, we’re not all dumb. We’re not all crazy. We’re not all ideological. Not all technical nerds who just fall in love and want to make sex with solar panels.”

However, the communities (or their designated NGO representatives) supposedly compensated through the New York State bill are not located in the regions that will be most impacted by the extraction necessary to manufacture so-called renewables. Already devastated by coups and neocolonial exploitation, swathes of the Global South from Bolivia to Congo – home to massive reserves of cobalt hand-mined in “slave conditions” for electric car batteries and iPhones – are being further destabilized by the minerals rush.

Even mainstream environmentalists acknowledge that rising reliance on renewable energy “means a lot of dirty mining” to extract the minerals required for electric batteries and solar cells. This prospect has sparked excitement within the mining industry, with the editor of Mining.com, Frik Els, dubbing Green New Deal spokeswomen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg “mining’s unlikely heroines.”

“Going all in on the green economy and decarbonisation requires siding with the greens against fossil fuels,” Els informed fellow mining industry insiders. “It means selling global mining as the solution to climate change because mining metals is the only path to green energy and green transport.”

Mining com Greta Thunberg AOC

The inevitable rush on minerals required to power the green revolution has not exactly delighted residents of the Global South, however.

Evo Morales, the indigenous former president of Bolivia, was driven from power in 2019 by a military junta backed by the United States and local oligarchs, in what he branded a lithium coup. With the world’s largest untapped lithium resources, Bolivia is estimated to hold as much as half of the world’s reserves. Under Morales, the country guaranteed that only state-owned firms could mine the mineral.

The ousted socialist leader argued that multi-national corporations supported his right-wing domestic opponents in order to get their hands on Bolivia’s lithium – an essential element in the electric batteries that provide the cornerstone to a digital economy dependent on smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. “As a small country of 10 million inhabitants, we were soon going to set the price of lithium,” Morales said. “They know we have the greatest lithium reserves in the world [in a space of] 16,000 square kilometers.”

minerals electric cars IEA

Minerals needed to produce electric cars (Source: International Energy Agency / IEA)

 

Just before the military coup in Bolivia, a report (PDF) by the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance reported that the global demand for electric batteries will increase 14-fold before 2030. Almost half of today’s lithium is mined to produce electric batteries, and the demand for the mineral will only rise as power grids incorporate high levels of battery powered tech and the demand for electric vehicles increases.

Electric batteries are also heavily reliant on cobalt, most of which is mined from Congo, and often in illegal and dangerous conditions by child labor. In December 2019, over a dozen Congolese plaintiffs sued Apple, Google’s Alphabet parent company, Microsoft, Dell, and Tesla, accusing them of “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (‘DRC’) to mine cobalt.”

This July, Tesla CEO and electric battery kingpin Elon Musk appeared to take partial credit for the 2019 military coup that forced Bolivia’s Evo Morales from power, asserting that big tech billionaires like him could “coup whoever we want.”

The payoff for all the dirty and deadly mining required to manufacture the solar panels, wind turbines, and electric batteries required to power the new industrial revolution is supposed to be a planet no longer faced with a “climate emergency” – and nevermind the damage to the Earth and its non-human inhabitants. But with the demand for electricity constantly growing, is it even possible to power an economy like that of the US with entirely renewable sources of energy (excluding nuclear)?

A scientific projection by one of the closest allies of Josh Fox and Anthony Ingraffea was supposed to have answered that question and put all doubts to bed. Instead, it resulted in acrimony and embarrassment for its author.

The 2050 transition goal: real science or a murky crystal ball?

In his piece hammering “Planet of the Humans” in The Nation, Fox touted “the proliferation of 100 percent renewable energy plans put forward by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson” as one of the most important pieces of evidence refuting the film’s grim narrative.

Jacobson’s study, according to National Geographic, was “a foundation stone” of the Green New Deal proposal put forward by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was also central to the energy plan advanced by the  presidential campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who co-authored an op-ed with Jacobson that called for a full transition to “clean” energy by 2050.

Jacobson, like Ingraffea, is an environmental engineer and political partner of Fox. The Stanford professor helped Fox found the environmental advocacy organization the Solutions Project, alongside actor Mark Ruffalo and the banker and former Tesla executive Marco Krapels in 2011. (More on this group later.)

Besides his working relationship with Jacobson, Fox failed to acknowledge that the professor’s all-renewables projection was strongly challenged by 21 leading energy scientists in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The scientists concluded Jacobson’s paper was rife with “invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions.”

A survey of the debate by Scientific American scoffed at Jacobson’s remarkable assumption “that U.S. hydroelectric dams could add turbines and transformers to produce 1,300 gigawatts of electricity instantaneously… or the equivalent of about 1000 large nuclear or coal power plants running at full power.”

Jacobson retaliated against his critics by filing a $10 million defamation lawsuit, which he was forced to withdraw in 2018. Legal commentator Kenneth White described the suit as “clearly vexatious and intended to silence dissent about an alleged scientist’s peer-reviewed article.”

This April, a DC Superior Court judge invoked anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation that reportedly ordered Jacobson to pay the defendants’ legal fees.

“Planet of the Humans” co-producer Ozzie Zehner saw Mark Jacobson’s flameout as a symptom of a wider problem within mainstream climate activism. “When Big Greens talk about ‘facts,’ they often aren’t talking about what most people understand to be facts,” he explained. “They’re usually talking about models, which attempt to predict the future based on estimations of physical conditions, projections, and assumptions. Greens industrialists claim they can accurately model a renewable energy future and its effects on the global biosphere. But our best science can’t even model a fish tank.”

Ingraffea insisted that Jacobson’s legal fight had only begun, and said the professor’s critics were “partially driven by Mark [Jacobson] having made a very famous name for himself in an arena with many other people working, and they’re not getting all the fame.”

Jacobson echoed this line in his own defense: “They don’t like the fact that we’re getting a lot of attention, so they’re trying to diminish our work.”

“Give the guy a break,” Ingraffea appealed. “You know, if he’s wrong, of course he’s wrong. No one’s going to be right. No one could possibly be right right now about what’s going to happen in 25 years. We’re all entitled to our projections. We’re all entitled to our crystal balls.”

That same courtesy was not extended by Ingraffea and his allies to the makers of “Planet of the Humans,” however. “We were unable to identify any factual errors in the film, and we’re open to the idea that we could be wrong about some things,” Zehner said. “But we’d like to have that debate and not be shut down.”

Among the wave of attacks on “Planet of the Humans,” a disproportionate number were churned out by renewables industry insiders, from an “innovation strategist” at the Green Power Energy firm that was criticized in the film for clearing a Vermont mountaintop to build a wind farm (“For me, this film was personal,” he stated), to Now You Know, a podcast by two mega-fans of Elon Musk who fawningly refer to the billionaire as “Elon” and have proudly declared that they are “long on Tesla stock.”

Missing from nearly all of the takedowns was the documentary’s scathing critique of the corruption of environmental politics by billionaires and elite family foundations.

“The conversation our critics really didn’t want to have was about the last one-third of the film,” Zehner remarked, “which dealt with the influence of billionaires and money in the environmental movement, and the divestment sham.”

The shell game of fossil fuel divestment

The tactic of fossil fuel divestment is at the heart of the so-called climate justice movement’s plan to defeat the fossil fuel industry. Launched by Bill McKibben’s 350.org and a coalition of professional activists soon after the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, the campaign has resulted in institutions like Oxford University and Goldman Sachs supposedly divesting their holdings in oil and gas companies. Campaigners like McKibben simultaneously encouraged their constituents to invest in funds whose portfolios were supposedly free of fossil fuel companies.

“Planet of the Humans” raked this tactic over the proverbial coals, demonstrating how investment funds endorsed by 350.org have engaged in a shell game in which fossil fuel assets are simply replaced with investments in plastics, mining, oil and gas infrastructure companies, and biomass.

“The big issue with divestment is that it absolves the destructive power of extreme wealth,” Zehner explained. “It’s saying that family foundations can be forgiven and money can be moved into mining, gas and oil infrastructure, solar, wind, and biomass. They divest from the brand name coal companies while investing in infrastructure companies that support coal mining.”

In one of the most controversial scenes in “Planet of the Humans,” Bill McKibben was seen inaugurating a wood-burning biomass energy plant at Middlebury College, where he has been a scholar-in-residence. The environmental leader praised the initiative as “an act of courage.”

Because the event took place in 2009, McKibben and his allies have attacked the scene as an unfair representation of his current position. In an official 350.org response to “Planet of the Humans,” McKibben claimed that his views on biomass have evolved, leading him to cease his support for the energy source in 2016.

Yet less than a week after The Nation published Josh Fox’s incendiary attack on Michael Moore and “Planet of the Humans,” Nation editor-in-chief D.D. Guttenplan hosted an event with McKibben that was sponsored by a fund with major investments in several wood-to-energy biomass companies.

Called Domini Impact Investments, the fund claims to hold investments in “68 companies… that both impact forests and depend on them, whether for forest derived products or ecosystem services.” One such Domini holding is a wood-to-energy company called Ameresco, which builds “large, utility-scale biomass-to-energy plants,” according to its website.

Domini Impact also features its sustainable “timber” holdings, including Klabin SA, a company with logging operations spanning 590,580 acres in Brazil. Klabin SA manufactures pulp and paper products and operates a 270MW on-site black liquor biomass plant. This May, just days after Domini sponsored McKibben’s talk, the company purchased a second biomass plant.

(Fabio Schvartzman, the former CEO of Klabin SA, was charged with 270 counts of homicide in Brazil this January, after allegedly concealing knowledge of an imminent dam burst to protect the share price of his current company, Vale. The 2019 Mariana dam collapse has been described as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.)

While introducing the Domini-sponsored event with McKibben, The Nation’s Guttenplan stated, “By investing in the Domini Funds, you can help build a better future for the planet and its people, and be part of a movement working to address a wide range of social and environmental issues including human rights, climate change mitigation and forest stewardship.”

Neither McKibben nor Guttenplan responded to email requests for comment from The Grayzone.

Domini Funds was hardly the only investment fund that McKibben has partnered with to promote fossil fuel divestment – and which has engaged in the shell game exposed in “Planet of the Humans.”

In what was perhaps the film’s most devastating scene, narrator Jeff Gibbs detailed how McKibben has advised 350.org members to direct their money into the Green Century Fund, an investment portfolio that boasts of being “wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations,” and free of fossil fuel stock.

Green Century Funds Bill McKibben invest fossil fuels

As “Planet of the Humans” revealed, however, the Green Century Funds’ portfolio has contained heavy investments in mining companies, oil, and gas infrastructure companies, including an exploiter of tar sands, the biofuel giant Archer Daniels Midland, McDonald’s, Coca Cola (the world’s leading plastic pollution proliferator), logging giants, and big banks from Bank of America to HSBC.

Asked about this section of the film, Josh Fox dismissed it as out of date. He claimed that “the entire idea of what constitutes a divested fund has changed really radically over the last eight years, starting at first from just oil, coal and gas investments, to then encompassing things like plastics and the meat industry and derivatives and all other options.”

However, a probe of the 2019 Securities and Exchange Commission filings by Green Century Funds showed the fund held thousands of shares in meat giant McDonald’s and Royal Caribbean Cruises, among other mega-polluters. The latter company’s Harmony of the Seas ship happens to be the most environmentally toxic cruise liner on Earth, relying on three massive diesel engines to burn 66,000 gallons of fuel a day. By the end of one voyage across the Atlantic, the ship has expended the same amount of gasoline as over 5 million automobiles traveling the same distance.

Green Century’s SEC filing boasted that it elicited a pledge from Royal Caribbean “to make its food waste management and reduction strategies more public.” It also claimed to have “helped convince McDonald’s, the largest purchaser of beef in the world, to restrict the use of antibiotics in its beef and chicken supply chains.”

It was a classic case of greenwashing, in which corporate behemoths burnished their reputation among progressives by embracing cosmetic reforms that did little to challenge their bottom lines.

When I informed Fox about Green Century’s ongoing investments in carbon-heavy industries, he said, “Well, I’m all for an investigation of those things on real grounds.”

In the same breath, Fox pivoted to another complaint about “Planet of the Humans”: “The film attacks Bill McKibben in ways that were unfair and untrue.”

Was that the case, though? One of the most provocative points about McKibben and his allies in “Planet of the Humans” – that they function as de facto public relations agents for the “green” billionaires seeking to cash in on the renewables rush – was never coherently answered. But as this investigation reveals, the climate warriors criticized in the film are sponsored by many of those same billionaires, as well as the network of family foundations that help set the agenda for groups like 350.org.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund incubates 350.org

In perhaps the most uncomfortable scene in “Planet of the Humans,” Bill McKibben was shown visibly squirming as an interviewer asked him about family foundation support for his 350.org.

“We’re not exactly Big Greens,” McKibben insisted during a 2011 interview with climate journalist Karyn Strickler. “I’m a volunteer, we’ve got seven people who work full time on this 350.org campaign.”

With a telling smirk on her face, Strickler asked McKibben how his group sustained itself.

“To the degree that we have any money at all it’s come from a few foundations in Europe and the US,” McKibben insisted.

He mentioned “a foundation based in Sweden, I think it’s called the Rasmussen Foundation that I think has been the biggest funder.”

After some prodding by Strickler, a visibly uncomfortable McKibben divulged that the “Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave us some money right when we were starting out. That’s been useful too.”

However, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rasmussen were not observing the birth of 350.org from the sidelines. In fact, the Rockefeller Brothers were instrumental in establishing 350.org and guiding the organization’s agenda. It began when the foundation incubated a group called 1Sky with a $1 million grant. McKibben immediately joined as board member.

As documented by radical environmentalist Cory Morningstar, 1Sky’s launch was announced at a 2007 gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative by former President Bill Clinton, who stood on stage beside Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz. Four years later, the Rockefeller Brothers announced “the exciting marriage of 1Sky and 350.org — two grantees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Sustainable Development program.”

Why McKibben was so uncomfortable about discussing his relationship with Rockefeller was unclear. Perhaps he was concerned that the organization he once described as a “scruffy little outfit” would be seen as a central node in the donor-driven non-profit industrial complex.

Whatever his motives were, since the testy exchange with Strickler, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has contributed over $1 million to McKibben’s 350.org.

Alongside a network of foundations and “green” billionaires, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and its $1.2 billion endowment serves as a primary engine of the network of self-styled “climate justice” activists that sought to steamroll “Planet of the Humans.”

These interests have cohered around the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), which is located in the New York City offices of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

The EGA enables elite foundations and billionaire donors to cultivate a cadre of professional “doers” during retreats in scenic locations. One first-time student attendee said the retreat experience was designed with “the intention of strengthening relationships between funders and build[ing] relationships within the environmental movement.” As soon as she arrived, she was “paired with mentor ‘buddies,’ folks who had been to past EGA Retreats to show us the ropes.”

These encounters take place in Napa Valley, California, or at the Mohonk Mountain House resort in New York’s Hudson Valley.

report by the Threshold Foundation described the theme of the 2015 EGA fall retreat at Mohonk: “‘Fund the Fighters!’ That’s the rallying call from the stars. Not the celestial stars, but from well-known artists such as Mark Ruffalo and Naomi Klein.”

In accordance with its relationship with the EGA’s network of environmental cadres and outfits like 350.org, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund embraced their fossil fuel divestment campaign, shedding its stocks in oil and coal while increasing assets in other industries that can hardly be described as green. A look at the results of the foundation’s move offers another disturbing case study in the divestment shell game.

The Rockefeller Brothers go “green,” invest in Halliburton

In 2014, following consultations with 350.org, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced that it was divesting from fossil fuels. “We were extremely uncomfortable with the moral ambivalence of funding programs around the climate catastrophe while still being invested in the fossil fuels that were bringing us closer to that catastrophe,” Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz said.

At a December 2015 side session of the UN climate conference in Paris, 350.org executive director May Boeve joined Heintz to celebrate the foundation’s decision to divest. “A growing number of investors representing a growing amount of capital do not want to be associated with this industry any longer,” Boeve stated.

350.org’s Boeve and Rockefeller’s Heintz at the UN climate summit in 2015

 

A look at the most recent publicly available financial filing of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from 2018 (PDF), offered a clear glimpse at the shell game that divestment has entailed.

According to the filing, while the Rockefeller Brothers freed itself of fossil fuels, the foundation remained invested in companies including the oil services giant Halliburton, the Koch-run multinational petroleum transportation partnership Inter Pipeline Ltd, and Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are familiar at scenes of deforestation and Palestinian home demolitions. (Several NGOs that advocate divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, such as +972 Magazine and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, have also received support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund).

The foundation padded its portfolio with stock in financial industry titans like Citigroup and Wells Fargo, as well as Newcrest Mining, Barrick Gold, Wheaton Precious Metals Corporation, and Agnico Eagle Mines.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund listed at least $20 million of investments in Vision Ridge Partners, which was itself invested in a biomass company called Vanguard Renewables under the guise of “renewable energy.” In December 2019, Vanguard Renewables forged a partnership with Dominion Energy – the energy giant whose Atlantic Coast Pipeline was defeated this June thanks to grassroots environmental mobilization – to convert methane from farms into natural gas.

Since the Rockefeller Brothers Fund answered 350.org’s call to divest from fossil fuels in 2014, the foundation’s wealth has increased substantially. As the Washington Post reported, “the Rockefeller Brothers fund’s assets grew at an annual average rate of 7.76 percent over the five-year period that ended Dec. 31, 2019.”

The outcome of the Rockefellers’ widely praised move established a clear precedent for other elite institutions: by allowing organizations like 350.org to lead them by the hand, they could greenwash their image, offload stocks in a fossil fuel industry described by financial analysts as a “chronic underperformer,” and protect their investments in growth industries like mining, oil services, and biomass.

McKibben, for his part, has marketed fossil fuel divestment as a win-win strategy for the capitalist class: “The institutions that divested from fossil fuel really did well financially, because the fossil fuel industry has been the worst performing part of our economy… Even if you didn’t care about destroying the planet, you’d want to get out of it because it just loses money.”

Blood and Gore make “the case for long-term greed”

In another move apparently intended to burnish its green image while padding its assets, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund invested over $100 million in Generation Investment Management’s Generation Climate Solutions Fund II and Generation IM Global Equity Fund.

These entities are jointly managed by Al Gore, the former US vice president who negotiated a notorious carbon offsets loophole at the 1997 Kyoto Climate Protocol that has been blamed for the release of 600 million tons of excess emissions. Gore launched the fund alongside David Blood, the ex-CEO of asset management for Goldman Sachs, in order to promote a climate-friendly capitalism.

In a 2015 profile of Blood and Gore’s Generation Investment Management fund, The Atlantic’s James Fallows described their investment strategy as “a demonstration of a new version of capitalism, one that will shift the incentives of financial and business operations” toward a profitable “green” economy – while potentially saving the system of capitalism from itself.

Blood was blunt when asked about his agenda: “We are making the case for long-term greed.”

The banker Blood and the green guru McKibben shared a stage together at the 2013 conference of Ceres, a non-profit that works to consolidate the mutually beneficial relationship between Big Green and Wall Street.

Bill McKibben (on the right) and former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood at the 2013 Ceres conference

 

The event featured a cast of corporate executives from companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and GM. Sponsors included Bank of America, PG&E, Bloomberg, Citi, Ford, GM, Prudential, Wells Fargo, TimeWarner, and a collection of Fortune 500 companies.

During their conversation, the investor Blood pledged to mobilize “something in the order of $40 to $50 trillion of capital” in renewables, underscoring the massive profit center that a transition to “green” energy represents.

“It’s entirely dependent on what kind of political will we can muster,” McKibben proclaimed, pledging to work toward Blood’s goal.

The unsettling sight of McKibben discussing multi-trillion dollar profit possibilities with a former Goldman Sachs banker was featured prominently in “Planet of the Humans,” and undoubtedly helped inspire the ferocious backlash against the documentary by the 350.org founder’s network.

McKibben was far from alone among climate justice warriors in his dalliance with the billionaire class, however.

A foundation-supported “ragtag bunch”

Before Josh Fox launched his media blitz against “Planet of the Humans,” he directed a full-length documentary vehicle for 350.org, titled “Divest.” For the 2016 film, Fox followed McKibben and allies like Naomi Klein as they embarked on a cross-country road trip to promote fossil fuel divestment.

Fox’s ties to the professional activists extend to the funding network centered around the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Between 2012 and 2017, Fox’s film company International WOW reported grants totaling $2.5 million. Much of that funding came courtesy of the Rockefeller Brothers Cultural Innovation Fund and Rockefeller MAP fund, as well as the Ford and Park Foundations.

Josh Fox International WOW funding foundations

Foundation funding for Josh Fox’s production company International WOW (Source)

 

In 2012, the year Fox and his allies launched their campaign promoting fossil fuel divestment, he co-founded an environmental advocacy group called the Solutions Project. He conceived the organization alongside celebrity actor Mark Ruffalo, former Tesla executive Marco Krapels, and Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson – the professor behind the dubious 2050 all-renewables projection.

The four founders gathered seed money from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation of the eponymous film actor, and from the 11th Hour Foundation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, according to Fox. Fox said that after a power struggle and an attempt to force him out in order to raise several million from the Sierra Club, he, Krapels, and Jacobson eventually left the organization.

Krapels has since launched an electric battery company in Brazil – another country that happens to hold a massive reserve of lithium and other minerals necessary for his products. Brazil has experienced a rush on lithium mining in recent years thanks to the roaring demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Krapels’ former partner at Tesla’s disastrous Solar City project, Elon Musk, announced plans this year to build an electric car factory in Brazil. Musk has even reportedly sought an audience with the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, to further his business interests.

Today, the Solutions Project is “100% co opted and sold out,” Fox acknowledged. Indeed, the group’s board members currently include Brandon Hurlbut, a former Obama Department of Energy official who founded Boundary Stone Partners – a lobbying firm that represents the nuclear industry. Also on the board is Billy Parish, the founder of Mosaic, a financial firm that declares its “mission to revolutionize two of the biggest industries in the world: energy and finance…” Mosaic’s website states. “We focus on the integration of doing good (for the planet) and doing well (financially).”

According to its website, the Elon Musk Foundation is among the Solutions Project’s funders. The organization describes Musk as “the guy who is trying to save humanity in like four or five different ways,” comparing him to a Marvel Comics superhero.

In reality, Musk is a ferocious union-buster who recently fired workers for staying home as the Covid-19 pandemic hit – but not before deceiving them into believing they had permission to safely quarantine.

Other Solutions Project supporters include the Skoll Global Threats Fund, run by eBay billionaire Jeffrey Skoll. Skoll funded Al Gore’s film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which went into production soon after Gore launched his Generation Investment Management fund – an inconvenient truth pointed out by “Planet of the Humans.”

The 11th Hour Project foundation of Google CEO Schmidt and his wife remains a supporter of the Solutions Project after ponying up the seed money to launch it. Asked in 2014 about the inequality and displacement that start-up tech businesses bring to the Bay Area, where Google is located, Schmidt responded, “Let us celebrate capitalism. $19 billion for 50 people? Good for them.”

When I challenged Fox about the co-optation of climate justice politics by tech oligarchs like Skoll, Schmidt, and Musk, he grew defensive. “You have to see these things in a time continuum of us trying to take off big, something bigger than anybody’s ever tried to take on in the world,” he stated, referencing his and his allies’ fight against the fossil fuel industry. “They’re bigger than Nazi Germany, bigger than America. Bigger than all of them combined. We’re a ragtag bunch of extraordinarily committed people who are willing to put our lives on the line to stop the fossil fuel industry.

“Yeah, that’s that’s really laudable,” Fox continued, referring to his own efforts, “and for a multi-millionaire circus barker, as Bill McKibben calls Michael Moore, to take potshots using flawed science, dishonest techniques, misrepresentation of the timeline, and 1,000 other things that are journalistic malpractice and that was called out by an extraordinary number of people – that’s the real story here. The real bully is Michael Moore here. It’s not me.”

The Producer

This year, Josh Fox launched a one-man show and film called “The Truth Has Changed.” According to promotional material for the performance, Fox narrated his experience as “an eyewitness to history” who “was the subject of a 100 million dollar smear campaign from the oil and gas industry.”

“Josh Fox was the beta test for the types of propaganda and smears the gang that created Cambridge Analytica is now known for world wide,” the film’s website stated. “And Josh is telling his story in an uncompromising way like never before.”

The performance was supposed to have enjoyed a lengthy run this January at one of the most renowned venues for political theater in the country, The Public Theater in New York City. But the show was abruptly canceled after the Public accused Fox of violating the theater’s code of conduct through “a series of verbal abuses to the staff.”

Fox, who is Jewish, retaliated by accusing the theater’s directors of anti-Semitism. According to the New York Times, Fox “said he had been told that he was too passionate, too loud and too emotional.”

“To me that is distinctly cultural,” Fox told the paper. “That’s a classic anti-Semitic trope.”

Behind the drama over the monologue’s cancellation, a more salient issue lingered. The executive producer of Fox’s “The Truth Has Changed” was Tom Dinwoodie, a wealthy “cleantech” entrepreneur and engineer who owned dozens of patents on solar technology, and therefore stood to reap a massive windfall profit from the renewables revolution that Fox and his allies were campaigning for.

Dinwoodie, who signed Fox’s letter calling for the retraction of “Planet of the Humans,” was a top donor to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a so-called “do-tank” where he serves as a lead trustee. In 2014, Dinwoodie helped oversee the merger of his think tank with billionaire Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, which was founded with “a mission to stimulate business-led market interventions that advance a low-carbon economy.”

“Increasingly, the solutions for climate change are those policy measures that drive economic growth,” a spokesman declares in a video announcing the strategic partnership between Branson’s non-profit and Dinwoodie’s Rocky Mountain “do-tank.”

In the same video, billionaire former Democratic Party presidential candidate and Rocky Mountain Institute donor Tom Steyer emphasized the profit motive behind the renewables transition: “Changing the way we generate and use energy is the largest industry in the history of the world. There is no time to waste.”

This July 9 – the day after the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force released its policy recommendations – the Rocky Mountain Institute launched the Center for Climate Aligned Finance in partnership with four of the biggest banks in the world: Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase.

The initiative, according to Rocky Mountain, will serve as “an engine room for the financial sector to partner with corporate clients to identify practical solutions through deep partnerships with industry, civil society and policymakers to facilitate a transition in the global economy to net-zero emissions by mid-century.”

The partnership represented an obvious boon for green tycoons like Dinwoodie who profit from renewable energy. And for the big banks that continued to top the list of the world’s most prolific investors in the fossil fuel industry, it was another opportunity to greenwash their public image.

Given the economic interests represented by Dinwoodie and his “do-tank,” it was easy to understand why he signed Fox’s letter calling for “Planet of the Humans” to be retracted. The documentary had not only hammered his political partner, Richard Branson, as a PR savvy oligarch exploiting environmental politics; it took aim at the ethos of Big Green outfits that comforted their ruling-class funders with the promise that they could do good while continuing to do well.

When I asked Fox why he thought big tech tycoons and their family foundations were plowing their fortunes into climate activism, he responded, “Probably saving the planet.”

The Danish connection

While wealthy green businessmen like Dinwoodie and Elon Musk furthered their commercial interests by underwriting green advocacy, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation and its closely affiliated KR (Kann-Rasmussen) Foundation have strategically directed their resources into nurturing a who’s who of professional climate warriors – including several that played a role in the campaign to suppress “Planet of the Humans.”

Brian Valbjørn Sørensen, the executive director of the KR Foundation, was a former special advisor to the center-left Danish government that lost power in 2015. KR’s chair, Connie Hedegaard, was the ex-minister for climate and energy for the center-right Danish government of Anders Fogg Rasmussen, who went on to serve as secretary general of the NATO military alliance. As the European Union’s first climate chief, Hedegaard argued that renewable energy could strengthen NATO’s soft power against Russia by reducing natural gas imports from the designated enemy state.

KR’s support for groups like 350.org surfaced in “Planet of the Humans” during the cringe-inducing scene in which journalist Karyn Strickler grilled Bill McKibben about his organizational funders. According to the KR Foundation, it donated $2 million to 350.org in 2019.

Toby Smith, the photographer who filed the copyright claim against Planet of the Humans on explicitly “personal” grounds, happened to have been the media outreach director of a KR-funded non-profit called Climate Outreach. As the Rasmussen family’s KR Foundation stated in a recent financial filing, it initiated grants totaling nearly $2 million to Climate Outreach in 2019 alone.

When British columnist George Monbiot published a vitriolic condemnation of “Planet of the Humans” in The Guardian, he neglected to mention that he had been a board member of the Rasmussen-backed Climate Outreach.

The V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation has also supported Naomi Klein’s environmentalist outfit, The Leap, according to the foundation’s website.

Klein, a longtime critic of elite family foundations and the billionaire class, was among the most prominent figures to join the campaign to censor “Planet of the Humans.” As her ally McKibben acknowledged, she unsuccessfully pressured Michael Moore to retract “Planet of the Humans” before it was even released.

Klein has celebrated the Danish government where KR Foundation leaders have served for advancing “some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world.” At the same time, she has denounced the “autocratic industrial socialism” of the Soviet Union and the “petro-populism” of the socialist government of Venezuela, where Denmark has recognized US-backed coup leader Juan Guaidó.

Klein’s recent broadsides against Venezuela contrasted strongly with her signing of a 2004 open letter that proclaimed, “If we were Venezuelan… we would vote for [Hugo] Chavez”; and a 2007 column in which she wrote that thanks to the Chavez government, “citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives.”

Naomi Klein and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on November 4, 2015. Gurria was a former Finance Minister in the administration of Mexico’s neoliberal former president, Ernesto Zedillo. Gurria won the OECD’s “Globalist of the Year” award for his role in negotiating the NAFTA free trade deal and “promot[ing] trans-nationalism.”

From Big Green critic to “Planet of the Humans” opponent

Naomi Klein’s opposition to “Planet of the Humans” was surprising given the views she has expressed in the past on mainstream environmental politics. In 2013, for example, she bemoaned the “deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups [on how to fight climate change]. And to be very honest with you,” she continued, “I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.”

In her widely acclaimed 2008 book “The Shock Doctrine,” Klein documenting the Ford Foundation’s role as a CIA cutout that helped establish the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago.

The Ford-funded academic department nurtured the infamous “Chicago Boys,” a group of neoliberal economists led by Milton Friedman who conceived the disaster capitalist “shock doctrine” that inspired the title of Klein’s book. They applied their program to Chile as General Augusto Pinochet’s economic advisors following his CIA-backed military coup to destroy the leftist government of Chilean President Salvador Allende.

Klein also surveyed the Ford Foundation’s support for the “Berkeley Mafia” at the University of California that advised the hyper-repressive junta of General Suharto, which toppled Indonesia’s socialist government in 1965.

“The Berkeley Mafia had studied in the US as part of a program that began in 1956, funded by the Ford Foundation…” Klein wrote. “Ford-funded students became leaders of the campus groups that participated in overthrowing Sukarno, and the Berkeley Mafia worked closely with the military in the lead-up to the coup…”

Henry Kissinger, the Nixon foreign policy guru whom Klein identified as the mastermind of the dirty war in Chile, had previously served as the director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Special Strategies Project, which helped conceive US national security strategies for countering the spread of communism.

Today, the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund support an array of liberal causes, from diversity and racial justice initiatives to the network of NGO’s organizing for fossil fuel divestment. At the same time, the Ford Foundation backs organizations that push regime change in Latin America, partnering with the US government to fund Freedom House, a DC-based NGO which supported the failed coup to oust Nicaragua’s elected leftist government in 2018. For its part, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has supported The Syria Campaign, a public relations outfit that clamored for US military intervention to remove the UN-recognized government of Syria.

In 2011, when Klein was appointed to 350.org’s board of directors, she joined forces with an environmental organization incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and supported by the Ford Foundation. “As 350.org founder Bill McKibben puts it: unless we go after the ‘money pollution,’ no campaign against real pollution stands a chance,” Klein wrote at the time.

Klein’s 2015 book and documentary film on climate change, “This Changes Everything,” was initially launched as a project called “The Message.” It was supported with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from a who’s who of major family foundations that help sustain McKibben’s political apparatus.

In one of several grants to the book and film project, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund contributed $50,000 to “The Message” via a non-profit pass-through called the Sustainable Markets Foundation. [PDF]

Susan Rockefeller served as a co-executive producer of the documentary version of “This Changes Everything.” Her husband, David Rockefeller Jr. is the son of tycoon David Rockefeller, a US government-linked cold warrior who co-founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and helped back the US-managed coup that put Pinochet and the Chicago Boys in power in Chile. Rockefeller Jr., a major supporter of conservationist causes, is a former chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and board member of Rockefeller Financial Services.

In 2014, the Ford Foundation chipped in with $250,000 to Klein’s project. [PDF]

Klein’s “The Message” also benefited from $140,000 in support from the Schmidt Family Foundation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. The Schmidt Family Foundation is an ongoing contributor to McKibben’s 350.org, kicking in $200,000 in 2018 [PDF].

In April 2019, Klein released “A Message From The Future,” a video collaboration with Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and artist and pundit Molly Crabapple, which promoted the Green New Deal as a pathway to a renewable-powered economic utopia.

Crabapple, a vehement supporter of Washington’s campaign for regime change in Syria, is an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation, a Democratic Party-linked think tank substantially funded by Google’s Schmidt, the Ford Foundation and the US State Department.

In a recent The Intercept column, Klein took aim at Schmidt, describing him as one of the billionaires exploiting “a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine” to begin “building a high tech dystopia.” She noted that Schmidt is closely aligned with the national security state as chair of the Defense Innovation Board, which consults for the Pentagon on the military’s application of artificial intelligence.

Schmidt also happens to be a proponent of a “smart” energy grid, which he says will “modernize the electric grid to make it look more like the Internet.” Such a model would not only benefit tech companies like Google which make their money buying and selling data, but the U.S. national security state, whose partnerships with big tech companies increase the capacity of its surveillance apparatus.

The Senate version of the Green New Deal calls for the construction of “smart” power grids almost exactly like those Schmidt imagined. Klein and other high-profile Green New Deal proponents have neglected to mention that this seeming benign component of the well-intentioned plan could represent a giant step on the way to the “high tech dystopia” of Silicon Valley barons and their national security state partners.

In May 2018, Klein became the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. The position was created “following a three-year, $3 million campaign…including a dozen foundations.” Among the “early and path breaking contributors,” according to Rutgers, was the Ford Foundation.

Gloria Steinem (L) and Naomi Klein at the 2018 Rutgers ceremony inaugurating Steinem’s endowed chair

 

Contributions also poured in for the endowment from tycoons like Sheryl Sandberg, the billionaire chief operating officer of Facebook and advocate of corporate “Lean In” feminism; and Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul who was sentenced this March to 23 years in prison for first degree criminal sexual assault. According to Rutgers, Weinstein provided “a gift of $100,000 in honor of his late mother, who shared Gloria Steinem’s hopes for female equality.”

I had hoped to have a conversation with Klein, a former colleague at the Nation Institute, about her reflexive opposition to a documentary that advanced many of the same arguments that appeared in her past writings. Was the exclusive focus on carbon emissions by professional climate warriors not a blinkered approach that ignored the environmental damage inherent in producing still-unproven renewable technology? Did “cleantech” tycoons not have a vested interest in advancing a global transition to the renewable products their companies manufactured? And when she had clearly articulated the problems with billionaire-backed Big Green advocacy, why had Klein cast her lot with a political network that seemed to epitomize it?

My emails were met with an auto-reply informing me Klein was “off grid,” and referring me to her personal assistant.

According to Fox, high-profile climate warriors like McKibben and Klein had no interest in speaking to me about their opposition to the film because “it’s like four months ago, man, everybody’s moved on.”

Seeing green in Biden

By August, members of the professional climate advocacy network that saw its interests threatened by “Planet of the Humans” was preparing for a much more elaborate on-screen production that promised new opportunities.

In the weeks ahead of the Democratic National Convention, climate justice organizations like the Sunrise Movement 501 c-4 which emerged in the shadow of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential run and condemned former Vice President Joseph Biden as a tool of the establishment suddenly changed their tune.

Flush with dark money from Democratic Party-aligned billionaires, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash stated on July 14 – the day Biden released his clean energy plan: “It’s no secret that we’ve been critical of Vice President’s Biden’s plans and commitments in the past. Today, he’s responded to many of those criticisms: dramatically increasing the scale and urgency of investments… Our movement, alongside environmental justice communities and frontline workers, has taught Joe Biden to talk the talk.”

While it brands itself as a grassroots movement that has organized anti-establishment stunts putting centrist figures like Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the spot, the Sunrise Movement was incubated with a grant from the Sierra Club, the Mike Bloomberg-backed juggernaut of Big Green organizing. Today, offices of the two organizations are located a floor apart in the same building in downtown Washington DC.

Ahead of the DNC, the Biden campaign introduced a $2 trillion plan pledge to invest heavily in renewable technology to achieve “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.” The plan promised to erect 500 million solar panels in the next five years alongside 60,000 new wind turbines.

With the demand for solar plummeting due to the coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of gigantic government subsidies was music to the ears of the “cleantech” tycoons who sponsor Democratic Party-aligned climate advocacy organizations.

Many of these green millionaires and billionaires had feasted at the trough of Obama’s stimulus package, which was directly responsible for powering the rise of America’s solar industry. After promising upon his inauguration to invest $150 billion in “a new green energy business sector,” Obama doled out an eye-popping $4.9 billion in subsidies to Tesla’s Elon Musk and a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for Tom Dinwoodie’s SunPower US to construct the California Valley Solar Ranch. In June 2019, an “avian incident” caused a fire at the SunPower Solar Ranch project, impacting over 1200 acres and knocking out 84% of generating capacity for several weeks.

“Planet of the Humans” presented viewers with the disturbing story of the Ivanpah solar plant, a signature initiative in Obama’s green energy plan which was co-owned by Google. Gifted with $1.6 billion in loan guarantees and $600 million in federal tax credits, Ivanpah was built on 5.6 square miles of pristine public land close to California’s Mojave National Preserve. In its first year, the massive plant produced less than half its of its planned energy goal while burning over 6000 birds to death.

The Ivanpah solar thermal plant and its three power towers spans across the Mojave Desert

 

Because of the intermittency inherent to solar power, the gargantuan energy project has had to burn massive amounts of natural gas to keep the system primed when the sun is not shining. Despite its dependence on fossil fuel, Ivanpah still qualifies under state rules as a renewable plant.

“The bottom line is the public didn’t expect this project to consume this much natural gas,” David Lamfrom, California desert manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, told the local Press-Enterprise. “We did not have full knowledge that this was what we were signing up for.”

Even after the Obama administration poured billions of dollars into solar projects, solar energy output increased between 2008 and 2016 by a mere .7% as a total of American energy production.

Meanwhile, across the country, many new wind projects remain stalled due to community concerns about land destruction. In the home state of Green New Deal advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only remaining wind project was canceled this January.

For raising questions about the efficacy and environmental cost of renewable projects like these, and proposing an explicitly anti-capitalist solution to the corporate destruction of the planet, the makers of “Planet of the Humans” were steamrolled by a network of professional climate activists, billionaire investors and industry insiders.

Now, with the Biden campaign promising a new flood of renewable subsidies and tax breaks under the auspices of a “clean” energy plan, the public remains in the dark about what it is signing up for. Even if the ambitious agenda fails to deliver any substantial environmental good, it promises a growing class of green investors another opportunity to do well.

 

[Max Blumenthal is the editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, an award-winning journalist, and the author of several books. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.]

Clinton to McKibben to Steyer to Podesta: Comments on Planet of the Humans by Michael Swifte

May 20, 2020

by Michael Swifte, Wrong Kind of Green Collective

 

 

“I think that the mainstream climate movement needs to collapse. It needs to end. And that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement working in those NGO jobs – they need to fail. I think they need to be brought down. I think they need to have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering, and they need to create space for those historically oppressed groups.” [1]

 

— Tim DeChristopher, Transformation without Apocalypse – Episode #6 [SOURCE]

 

To understand the “damage” Bill McKibben claims the Planet of the Humans documentary has done to the climate justice movement you have to look at where 350 dot org began.

A fifty million dollar beginning

Bill McKibben has been in a dance with philanthropo-capitalists for more than a decade. He may not have been paid to be the face of 350 dot org but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t ‘corporate’ money around.

There was corporate and philanthropic money from the start. Bill Clinton announced 50 million from a “range of corporate and non-profit partners” for 1Sky at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative. Bill McKibben was on the board of 1Sky in 2009 before it was merged with 350 dot org.

Watch this video and ask yourself how anyone could claim to be a leader of a ‘grassroots’ organisation or say that 350 dot org was ever a “rag-tag bunch of kids”. Watch the video.

 

Cory Morningstar has been tracking, analysing and cataloguing this stuff for 10 years, and by “this stuff” I mean the global capture of climate justice activism through #networkedhegemony at the behest of the non profit industrial complex #NPIC. Cory follows the money, analyses the networks, and interrogates the messaging.

#NewPower networks connect 350 dot org to a vast web of similarly funded campaigns and critically deliver opportunities to shape the Democratic party agenda. 350’s global expansion was built on replicating the organisations, institutions and campaigns that positioned it in the US and Canada.

Here are some links providing deep background on the #NewPower constructs and networks that empower the ‘climate cartel’.

‘Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion’

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/rockefellers-1sky-unveils-the-new-350-org-more-more-delusion/

‘SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not’

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/sumofus-are-corporate-whores-some-of-us-are-not/

Jessica Bailey at Rockefeller Brothers Fund actually used the word ‘merger’ to describe the union of the 2 campaign organizations incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

“Bill McKibben, who has been a 1Sky board member and will chair the new 350.org board, once referred to 1Sky as the U.S. Embassy for 350.org and 350.org as 1Sky’s foreign legion.[] Matching 350.org’s talent for mass mobilization and online action with 1Sky’s advocacy and field campaign experience is tremendously exciting. Mergers are tough, and I applaud the leaders in both organizations for recognizing they’d be stronger together.“ [SOURCE]

Comments on Planet of the Humans

Planet of the Humans is a worthy documentary for it’s revelations about “green energy” and the failures of the climate justice movement. It is a testament to Jeff Gibbs’ extensive documentation and long commitment to environmental issues. I was pleased that it included the Climate Challenge segment with Karyn Strickler pitching a question from Cory Morningstar to Bill McKibben, and I was glad the film makers told the truth about Ivanpah and Robert F Kennedy Jr’s ties to fossil fuel giants.

Planet of the Humans is mostly about North America, and while it opens up a range of departure points for discussion of planetary issues, it’s a documentary about North American humans and westerners more generally, not the 100s of millions of blameless people who struggle to put food on the table. I found the discussion of the ‘population issue’ concerning given how little time had been given to putting global consumer markets into perspective, but documentary making is about access, and Jeff Gibbs has gained access to the world of “green energy” in North America. Michael Moore brings access of a different but equally vital kind, if you want to make a splash with a documentary.

Departure points are vital if we’re to make the most of what Planet of the Humans has highlighted as key issues. If the climate justice movement has failed and the environmental movement has been captured by billionaires, what else have they messed up? What are the other billionaire philanthropists doing to capture the efforts of environmental campaigners? What new diabolical schemes are planned to keep business as usual going?

People who feel inspired or moved by Planet of the Humans should look into biomass burning in Europe and the future plans for burying CO2 produced from burning biomass under the North Sea. American and European philanthropies have invested staggering amounts of money into organisations like the European Climate Foundation which is part of a global empire of similar organisations. The IPCC mitigation pathways are replete with the term BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage).

I watched Planet of the Humans after watching the Earth Day livestream discussion with Michael Moore, Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner. I hope that Michael Moore’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders and his plea that we put environmentalism into the hands of young people like the Sunrise Movement which was incubated by the Sierra Club is not the position of all three film makers. We can’t take Michael Moore’s words as a call to action so we are going to have to make our own calls to action.

Watch the full video of Karyn Strickler interviewing Bill McKibben on Climate Challenge here:

 

Departure point: John Podesta and a parallel climate campaign

In 2007 a plan was launched by 6 foundations. This plan #DesigntoWin produced the ClimateWorks Foundation, headed by John Podesta, which has spearheaded the incubation and funding of re-granting NGOs globally. ClimateWorks is perhaps the world’s largest recipient of  climate philanthropy having received more than 1.3 billion USD since it’s inception in 2008.

John Podesta has a long relationship with the Clintons, both as politicians and philanthropists. In the various roles he has played – always as a Democrat – his focus has been on the future of energy and how to message a position on climate change for the party and for the global philanthropo-capitalist agendas.

Have a read of the Wikileaks ‘Podesta Emails’ that refer to Bill McKibben and/or Tom Steyer. Check out the ‘climate tick tocks’ for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the updates from philanthropist-billionaires like Tom Steyer and Henry Sandler, or Chris Lehane’s ‘big idea’ briefing that became the ‘Clean Power Plan’ (more business as usual). [SOURCE]

Podesta is always engaged with philanthropists. The Sandler Foundation helped establish the Center for American Progress which Podesta heads up. It helped fund the Australian climate justice regranting NGO the Sunrise Project and the US Beyond Coal campaign. Tom Steyer, a former Wall St banker, hedge fund manager and friend of Nancy Pelosi befriended Podesta who welcomed him into his Center for American Progress. Podesta encouraged Steyer to start his NextGen Climate Action Committee. It is likely that Steyer’s dubious defection from the ranks of billionaire fossil fuel investors and hedge fund managers was orchestrated under the advice of Chris Lehane. Steyer’s defection would see him join with McKibben and 350 at high profile events, and according to the Podesta emails they were in regular contact.

350/McKibben have been a foil for Democrat positioning on climate. The non profit industrial complex needed a global climate justice brand, and it needed to nestle it in a web of networks all connected by funded talking points and touchstone pieces in Rolling Stone and Grist. Granting and regranting NGOs pass over talking points in their transactions with grant recipients. Billionaires on every continent get to play the game.

Important background on the Design to Win plan here:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/09/11/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-volume-ii-act-i-a-design-to-win-a-multi-billion-dollar-investment/

Background on the largely ignored mitigation plans of big oil & gas here:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/10/19/perfect-distractions-and-fantastical-mitigation-plans/

Departure point: The Steyer-Taylor Center and financing for CCS

Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor fund the Steyer Taylor Center at Stanford. The center was headed from it’s founding in 2011 until September 2018 by Dan Reicher who has spoken in favour of financing to support carbon capture and storage on numerous occasions.

Dan Reicher is a Clinton administration energy wonk who spent some of the Obama years at Google. He’s the Founding Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, but is now at the Stanford Woods Institute. Reicher explains how the future is all laid out for enhanced oil recovery with CO2 in this 2016 video. His slides include the prexisting CO2 pipeline maps for enhanced oil recovery.

 

A quote from the video:

“Carbon capture and sequestration is a key climate change strategy. You ask the IPCC, you ask the International Energy Agency.”

Reicher argues that with the CO2 pipeline infrastructure that is already in place and the right financial instruments “Full scale cost effective CCS” is deliverable.

Here is Reicher discussing private activity bonds and CCS. In the past he has spoken about the usefulness of master limited partnerships. Both of these financial instruments have been included in bipartisan bills currently before congress.

“It’s less about how to make it work technically these days but more about how to make it work financially,” [SOURCE]

Here is a quote from Reicher speaking at the Exxon funded Global Climate and Energy Project – Research Symposium in 2015.

“We really need to be using CCS for coal, natural gas, and a whole host of industrial carbon sources. But the costs are too high,” [SOURCE]

The Steyer-Taylor Center has partnered with the Exxon incubated and funded Global Climate and Energy Project which was ended in August 2019.  Exxon are a founding member of the Strategic Energy Alliance along with Bank of America who support the – Sustainable Finance Initiative along with the Steyer-Taylor Center. [SOURCE]

Departure point: The Green New Deal and the failing phase out

Dan Lashof is the director of the World Resources Institute and the current COO of Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America and Nextgen Policy Center. In January Lashof co-wrote an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle with Occidental Petroleum – Low Carbon Ventures president Richard Jackson. Oxy’s air capture plans support their enhanced oil recovery efforts and net zero targets through negative emissions from their planned air capture for CO2 enhanced oil recovery project. [SOURCE]

There’s a lot of interest in Oxy’s direct air capture plans which are supported by Carbon Engineering who have a long list of investors including Bill Gates, Murray Edwards, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC, Chevron Technology Ventures and BHP. [SOURCE]

The World Resources Institute provided 2 of the 3 Data for Progress researchers that developed the #netzero language that made it into the Green New Deal resolution. After the resolution came and went it has become clear that any sort of commitment to a fossil fuel phase out had been abandoned.

Important background on the ties between the World Resources Institute and Data for Progress here:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/13/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-the-new-green-deal-is-the-trojan-horse-for-the-financialization-of-nature/

The Green New Deal has taken some of the pressure from McKibben/350. The Clean Power Plan was business as usual, but a little bit cleaner. The GND allows Democrats to appear to be taking a harder line on climate,  but it’s a vehicle that has little legislative substance.

The Green New Deal must be failing to deliver a fossil fuel phase out if the director of the WRI, a so called ‘environmental advocate’, can share a by-line with a big oil executive to spruik a project that is the opposite of phasing out fossil fuels and seemingly nobody cares.

Here’s a quote from Dan Lashof regarding Oxy’s air capture for CO2 enhanced oil recovery project that clearly shows he’s not working for a fossil fuel phase out.

“On the other hand, to the extent that you’re expanding the total energy resources base and extending the fossil-fuel era, obviously that doesn’t solve the climate problem.” [SOURCE]

Data for Progress, New Green Deal Research Director and World Resources Institute US, Manager for Climate Action and Data, Greg Carlock referred to a WRI working paper on direct air capture in a recent blog post for WRI. The paper refers to Oxy’s DAC for CO2 EOR project as an example of where investments are increasing.

“Some companies interested in combining enhanced oil recovery with direct air capture are increasing investments. For example, Occidental Petroleum is partnering with Carbon Engineering to build potentially several direct air capture plants.” [SOURCE]

Departure point: Drax, BECCS and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

  1. On April 21, 2020, while the global oil market was in free fall, it was reported that a formal agreement had been signed confirming that Drax would be part of a consortium that included Equinor and Phillips 66 to develop “the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster” in Humber, UK. [SOURCE]

 

  1. Equinor are a member of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative who are funding the Teesside CCS cluster. [SOURCE]

 

  1. Drax have been trialling BECCS (bio-energy with CCS) in the UK. [SOURCE]

 

  1. The lions share of the biomass burned by the Drax Group is from North America. [SOURCE]

 

  1. BECCS is in 3 of the 4 pathways offered by the IPCC working group on mitigation. [SOURCE]

Departure point: European Climate Foundation and industrial CCS clusters

Laurence Tubiana is a former French ambassador to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and CEO of the European Climate Foundation.

 

“The phase when abatement of emissions from industry was considered impossible is over. Industry leaders are looking at totally disruptive technologies and visions.” [SOURCE]

I could try and explain how the ECF is positioned to shape the ‘climate solutions’ on offer, but Cory Morningstar has already done it perfectly:

“As “the core of the ClimateWorks system in Europe“, the ECF constitutes an integral part of the regional global network created by the San Francisco-based ClimateWorks. ClimateWorks works to oversee and shape climate-related policy work worldwide. Launched in 2008 – the same year as ClimateWorks) – the ECF is a regranting foundation like its US counterpart.” [Background on the European Climate Foundation]

3 key points about European Climate Foundation

  1. The European Climate Foundation commissioned Element Energy to prepare 2 reports. One report is on carbon capture utilisation and storage for gas, coal, oil and biomass, and the other is on liquid fuels (hydrogen) which will largely come from processing North Sea gas and sequestering the CO2 in geological storage or from electrolysis using electricity largely supplied from the grid that is ostensibly renewable.
  2. Element Energy prepared reports for the developers of Teesside CCS industrial cluster and for the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative which are funding the Teesside CCS cluster as part of their UN endorsed Kickstarter Initiative investments.
  3. It is clear that the European Climate Foundation which is part of the ClimateWorks empire under the Design to Win plan, are 100% in support of further entrenching fossil fuel extraction and use as part of their #NetZero

5 studies relating to BECCS and industrial clusters in Europe

2018: Study funded by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

‘Policy Mechanisms to support the large-scale deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)’

“Element Energy and Vivid Economics have assessed policy mechanisms that could accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to the scale required to meet climate change targets. The report begins by considering why, despite the central role that CCS plays in many deep decarbonisation trajectories, CCS has failed to build momentum. Having identified the problems, the work lays out policy and market mechanisms that could stimulate investment across the stages of deployment, acknowledges regional circumstances, and suggests principles that could help governments and firms to collaborate. Note that in this report CCS includes CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage) in those cases where storage is permanent.'” [SOURCE]

2018: Study funded by the European Climate Foundation

‘Low-carbon cars in Europe: A socio-economic assessment’

“Hydrogen production for the transport sector is expected to be dominated by water electrolysers, steam methane reforming (SMR) and by-product from industrial processes (for example chloralkali plants). These sources form the basis of the production mix in this study. Other potential sources include waste or biomass gasification, or SMR with carbon capture and storage. These additional routes could potentially provide low cost, low carbon hydrogen, but are not yet technically or economically proven and have not been included in the cost assumptions below.” [SOURCE]

2017: Study funded by the European Climate Foundation and Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness (i24c)

‘Deployment of an industrial Carbon Capture and Storage cluster in Europe: A funding pathway’

“The 2020s will be a make-or-break decade for so many aspects of the low carbon transition. CCS in industrial plants needs to be part of the picture. Getting the financing right is clearly an essential first step. But we also need to establish the right frameworks for shared liability between operators and tackle some of the concerns the public and some policymakers still harbour over industrial CCS. This report shows the way for at least one of the hurdles related to CCS. I hope you enjoy reading it.” [SOURCE]

2011: Study funded by the One North East Regional Development Agency and the North East Process Industries Cluster.

‘Tees Valley CCS Network’

“An Element Energy study has looked at the logistics of implementing a shared CCS pipeline network in the Tees Valley to connect major CO2 emitters in one of the UK’s largest industrial clusters. By Harsh Pershad, Element Energy”[SOURCE]

2019: Study prepared for European Climate Foundation in collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Climate-KIC, the Energy Transitions Commission, RE:Source,and SITRA.

‘Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions from EU Heavy Industry’

“BIOMASS WILL BE REQUIRED PRIMARILY FOR FEEDSTOCK Achieving net zero emissions for the economy as a whole will lead to multiple competing claims on scarce biomass re-sources. The use of biomass for fuel or feedstock can compete with alternative uses for land like food or feed production, conservation for maintained biodiversity, or as a ‘sink’ for CO2 emissions. Furthermore, once the biomass has been extracted, there are multiple competing uses, from simple combustion for heat or electricity generation (the largest use today) to the production of transportation fuels, or use with CCS for ‘negative emissions’ to offset remaining emissions in other sectors.” [SOURCE]

2017: Research paper prepared for Chatham House by independent policy analyst Duncan Brack

‘Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate’

“Biomass is classified as a source of renewable energy in national policy frameworks, benefiting from financial and regulatory support on the grounds that, like other renewables, it is a carbon-neutral energy source. It is not carbon-neutral at the point of combustion, however; if biomass is burnt in the presence of oxygen, it produces carbon dioxide. The argument is increasingly made that its use can have negative impacts on the global climate. This classification as carbon-neutral derives from either or both of two assumptions. First, that biomass emissions are part of a natural cycle in which forest growth absorbs the carbon emitted by burning wood for energy. Second, that biomass emissions are accounted for in the land-use sector, and not in the energy sector, under international rules for greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

“Many of the models used to predict the impacts of biomass use assume that mill and forest residues are the main feedstock used for energy, and biomass pellet and energy companies tend to claim the same, though they often group ‘low-grade wood’ with ‘forest residues’, although their impact on the climate is not the same. Evidence suggests, however, that various types of roundwood are generally the main source of feedstock for large industrial pellet facilities. Forest residues are often unsuitable for use because of their high ash, dirt and alkali salt content.” [SOURCE]

 

End notes:

[1] Verbatim: “I think that the, the mainstream climate movement, needs to, needs to collapse. It needs to end. Um, and, and that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement, ah, working in those NGO jobs, um, they, they need to fail. Um, I think they need to be brought down. I think they, they need to, ah, have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering, and they need to create space for, ah, for those historically oppressed groups.” Tim DeChristopher, Transformation without Apocalypse – Episode #6

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [ACT V]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [ACT V]

This is ACT V of the six-part series: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

 

February 13, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

In ACT I of this new body of research I opened the dialogue with the observations of artist Hiroyuki Hamada:

 

“What’s infuriating about manipulations by the Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest the goodwill of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given the skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.”

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VI] [Addenda: I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

Volume I:

In ACT I, I disclosed that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, served as special youth advisor and trustee to the foundation established by “We Don’t Have Time”, a burgeoning mainstream tech start-up. I then explored the ambitions behind the tech company We Don’t Have Time.

In ACT II, I illustrated how today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite. Also in this act I introduced the board members and advisors to “We Don’t Have Time.” I explored the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In ACT III, I deconstructed how Al Gore and the Planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why. I explored the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal. I also touched upon Thunberg’s famous family. In particular, Thunberg’s celebrity mother, Malena Ernman (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017), and her August 2018 book launch. I then explored the generous media attention afforded to Thunberg in both May and April of 2018 by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.

In ACT IV, I examined the current campaign, now unfolding, in “leading the public into emergency mode”. More importantly, I summarized who and what this mode is to serve.

In ACT V, I take a closer look at the Green New Deal. I explore Data for Progress and the targeting of female youth as a key “femographic”. I connect the primary architect and authors of the “Green New Deal” data to the World Resources Institute. From there, I walk you through the interlocking Business & Sustainable Development Commission, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and the New Climate Economy – a project of the World Resources Institute. I disclose the common thread between these groups and the assignment of money to nature, represented by the Natural Capital Coalition and the non-profit industrial complex as an entity. Finally, I reveal how this has culminated in the implementation of payments for ecosystem services (the financialization and privatization of nature, global in scale) which is “expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.”

In the final act, ACT VI [Crescendo], I wrap up the series by divulging that the very foundations which have financed the climate “movement” over the past decade are the same foundations now partnered with the Climate Finance Partnership looking to unlock 100 trillion dollars from pension funds. I reveal the identities of individuals and groups at the helm of this interlocking matrix, controlling both the medium and the message. I take a step back in time to briefly demonstrate the ten years of strategic social engineering that have brought us to this very precipice. I look at the relationship between WWF, Stockholm Institute and World Resources Institute as key instruments in the creation of the financialization of nature. I also take a look at what the first public campaigns for the financialization of nature (“natural capital”) that are slowly being brought into the public realm by WWF. I reflect upon how mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence and further manipulate the populace by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world.

With the smoke now cleared, the weak and essentially non-existent demands reminiscent of the 2009 TckTckTck “demands” can now be fully understood.

Some of these topics, in addition to others, will be released and discussed in further detail as addenda built on the large volume of research. This includes stepping through the looking glass, with an exploration of what the real “Green New Deal” under the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like. Also forthcoming is a look at the power of celebrity – and how it has become a key tool for both capital and conformity.

[*Note: This series contains information and quotes that have been translated from Swedish to English via Google Translator.]

 

A C T   V

 

March 10, 2014:

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

 

A Green New Deal – for Mobilization

November 12, 2018,  A New Global Architecture: Børge Brende [Far left of panel], President, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum and panel [1]. “Shaping a New Global Architecture” session at the World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

The “New Deal” of the 1930s has always been a point of pride in the American psyche since its implementation by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his four terms in office after the Great Depression. Since that time, various people and programs have attempted to appropriate this term in furtherance of diverse platforms as a means to portray the concept as beneficial to a populace. In that regard, a fairly recent phrase that has borrowed from this terminology is the “Green New Deal”. This term first surfaced during 2007 by the NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman and was then used by London accountant Richard Murphy to describe a full scale change in our economy to an environmentally sound capitalist system. As the term has never been fully embraced by the establishment, it still resided right below the surface of mainstream economic discourse among many people, as it serves as a potential improvement within the current economic system. Only recently though, in 2019, has the “Green New Deal” reached apoplectic proportions as far as its usage and reached a fevered pitch by those who are touting its ability to shift the paradigm from fossil fuels to a pancea of “green technologies” in the near future.

Prior to 2018, the term had become most recognized and associated with the Green Party as part and parcel of its platform. By June 2018, however, traces of how this would soon serve to be the vehicle that would launch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the stratosphere of a superstar would start to surface.

On June 27, 2018, Democracy Now, a popular mouthpiece for the halls of power in the domestic psuedo-left movements reported the following:

“In a stunning upset and the biggest surprise of the primary season this year, 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley in New York in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Crowley is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, and he’d outraised Ocasio-Cortez by a 10-to-1 margin. Crowley was widely viewed as a possible future House speaker. Yet Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley after running a progressive grassroots campaign advocating for “Medicare for All” and the abolition of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.”

Following her victory on June 26, 2018, Cortez would acknowledge that the only reason she ran for the seat, was at the bequest of the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress who had approached Cortez a year and a half earlier, in 2016. [Video interview, June 27, 2018, 9m:42s in]:

The Young Turks: “Last, two things real quick. You’re among the first Just Democrat candidates ever in history. Umm, how much of a, of a help was that organization to you?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It was enormously important. I wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for the support of Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. Umm, in fact it was it was these organizations, it was JD and it was Brand New Congress as well, that both, that asked me to run in the first place. They’re the ones that called me a year and a half ago after I left Standing Rock and said ‘hey would you be willing to run for Congress?’ So I wouldn’t be here, um, and I wouldn’t have run if it wasn’t [for them].”

October 26, 2018: Brand New Congress, Green New Deal

Most of the people involved in founding the Justice Democrats (launched in January 2017) and Brand New Congress (founded in 2016) came from the aftermath of the Bernie 2016 campaign. As an example, Saikat Chakrabarti co-founder and former executive director of Justice Democrats, as well as a co-founder of Brand New Congress, served as the campaign chair during  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign. Today, Chakrabarti serves as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff. Prior to co-founding Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, Chakrabarti was the director of organising technology for the Bernie 2016 Campaign.

Our Revolution, a political organization launched by Bernie Sanders in 2016, [touched upon in ACT III of this series] also endorsed Ocasio-Cortez. On January 23, 2017, it was reported that Justice Democrats would partner with Brand New Congress.

One name that sparks curiosity is Zack Exley. In addition to serving as current advisor to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Exley is a co-founder of both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. Previously, he served as the senior advisor to the Bernie 2016 campaign and the organizing director for MoveOn. Exley, Open Society Fellow, is co-founder of the New Consensus public relations and communications firm and the ascribed “policy arm of Justice Democrats.” [Source] New Consensus, co-author of  The Green New Deal document with the Sunrise Movement and the Justice Democrats, is identified by Think Progress as “the muscle supporting Green New Deal efforts”.

Exley, co-author of “Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything”, was also co-founder of the New Organizing Institute (launched in 2005) which recruited, trained and supported US political candidates. New Organizing Institute, funded by Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation among others, partnered with MoveOn.org (co-founder of both Avaaz and the New Organizing Institute) and several other NGOs in 2011 before the institute was dissolved in 2015.

It is worth noting that Avaaz first polled its members on a Green New Deal in 2009.

+++

One day after Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic nomination for her congressional district on June 27, 2018, a Green New Deal led by Ocasio-Cortez was highlighted by Grist in which they referenced an email interview between HuffPost and Ocasio-Cortez the week prior:

“What sets Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal apart is her plan to meet the target by implementing what she called a “Green New Deal,” a federal plan to spur “the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs.”

 

Though the slogan harks back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal program of infrastructure spending and labor reforms, she compared the program she envisions to the tens of billions of dollars spent on armaments manufacturing and the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.”

 

‘The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,’ she told HuffPost by email last week. “We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy.”

On June 30, 2018, Grist would reference the Green New Deal as proposed by Ocasio-Cortez again:

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan’, she said by email. “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.”

Here we must pause for a moment to deconstruct the above. First, the above plan and language mirrors that in the strategy document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement” [laid out in ACT IV of this series] being led by organizations whose affiliations with the Democrats, the Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez campaigns are publicly disclosed. Second, we must recognize that  behind large institutions and media outlets such as Grist, branded as both “left” and “progressive”, are power structures subservient to capital. Grist CEO is Brady Walkinshaw. Prior to his role of CEO in 2017, Walkinshaw, a former US State representative, worked as a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before his tenure at the Gates Foundation, Walkinshaw, a Fulbright scholar of the US State Department, worked as a special assistant to the World Bank. Within the Grist board of directors is 350.org founder, Bill McKibben – defacto foot soldier for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats in general.

Climate Nexus: A Green New Deal is Coming

November 7, 2018, Twitter: Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), Green New Deal

On February 7, 2019, Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) [2] announced via its “TOP STORIES” that a “Green New Deal is Coming”:

“Here It Comes: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) will unveil a landmark resolution calling for a transition to renewable energy and the creation of thousands of new jobs today in Washington, DC. The highly-anticipated Green New Deal legislation follows months of protest and calls for an aggressive and just transition off fossil fuels from young activists in groups like the Sunrise Movement.”

From 2013-2016, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors ten million dollars for Climate Nexus.

The Blended Finance Taskforce [see ACT IV of this series] comprises fifty icons of finance including the MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundation.

As touched upon in act IV of this series, the People’s Climate March, which took place  on September 21, 2014, was led and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, Climate Nexus, 350.org, Avaaz/Purpose, Greenpeace, US Climate Action Network (USCAN) and GCCA/TckTckTck (founded by twenty NGOs with 350.org, Greenpeace, Avaaz and Oxfam at the helm). In relation to the current set of circumstances, 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation) would again serve to be an instrumental vehicle to propel the Green New Deal as the catalyst to unlock the 100 trillion dollars required to unleash the “fourth industrial revolution”. This project, of unparalleled magnitude, is the vehicle to save the failing global capitalist economic system and bring in the financialization of nature.

Green New Deal – Data for Progress

“A Green New Deal is popular among American voters and can mobilize them in 2018.” — A Green New Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [Emphasis in original]

Data for Progress Website

“Key Finding 7: The kids are alright – Though some of the proposals we examine are currently unpopular nationally, that may change in the future. We find that four of the most radical proposals we analyzed are vastly more popular with younger voters than they are with the general public.” — Data for Progress, Polling the Left Agenda

In July 2018, polling conducted by Data for Progress, a partner in the Green New Deal with the Sunrise Movement and 350.org, showed a whopping 41% of people under the age of thirty would support a candidate that campaigned on a jobs guarantee and clean energy. The support exhibited by this age bracket constituted approximately twice that of the group comprised of people age 45 and above. [“Forty-eight percent of voting eligible adults said they would be more likely to support a candidate who was running on 100% renewable energy by 2030. Notably, this is significantly faster than even the most progressive legislation currently in Congress.”] By targeting the youth, in addition to its 30-45 demographic, the promise of green jobs and clean energy were the clear winners.

“In this case, at least, time could be a weapon for the Sunrise Movement. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center projected that millennials were poised to overtake baby boomers as the largest adult generation in the U.S., as well as its biggest eligible voting bloc.” [Source]

 

“What year were you born? (Sunrise is building a movement led by young people; we ask for the year you were born so that we can help you find the best opportunities to engage. You can answer “prefer not to say” as well, but knowing this really helps us!)” – Sunrise Movement Website

September 6, 2018, Twitter: 350.org, Green New Deal, Data for Progress

“All electricity consumed in America must be generated by renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and renewable natural gas, as well as clean sources such as nuclear and remaining fossil fuel with carbon capture.” — Green New Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [p. 5]

For the Green New Deal’s foray into the American consciousness, a new movement would be required. This would be the Sunrise Movement. A youth movement created under the direction of the Sierra Club from which it received a $50,000 grant. Par for the course of “youth grassroots activism” Sunrise already has a hefty budget and a full time staff: “In relation to other environmental groups, the Sunrise Movement is relatively small. Its officials said they have about 16 full-time staff and that they’ve raised about $1 million since its founding.” [December 3, 2018]

Sunrise Movement is the rebranded US Climate Plan (now defunct) founded by Evan Weber and Matt Lichtash.

Lichtash is a strategy and executive office specialist at the New York Power Authority. He is the founder of Carbon Capital.

WESLEYAN,  ISSUE 2,  2017

In 2017, Weber was named by Grist as one of “50 emerging green leaders to watch for” citing his work with U.S. Climate Plan, the organization founded by he and Lichtash in 2013 under the direction of Michael Dorsey.

SustainUS alumni [“WE TRAIN YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEAD“] Dyanna Jaye would be identified as one of the Sunrise Movement co-founders following the April 2017 rebrand, as would Varshini Prakash and Sara Blazevic from the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network.

“Sunrise is a movement led by young people and young people will be prioritized for housing, travel support, and other needs, as people typically left out of the political process by our institutions. That being said, we welcome people of all ages to participate in Sunrise actions in different ways.” — Sunrise website

The president and executive director of the Sunrise Movement is Michael Dorsey. Having served eleven years on the Sierra Club national board, Dorsey is co-founder and principal of Around the Corner Capital—an energy advisory and impact finance platform. He serves as an advisor to ImpactPPA, equity partner in the solar firm Univergy-CCC, co-founder and director of Univergy-CCC’s India division (Univergy/ThinkGreen), and a full member of the Club of Rome. His political background is extensive having served under the US administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He also served on Senator Barack Obama’s energy and environment presidential campaign team. [3]

“We must end all emissions from fossil fuels. The full U.S. economy can and must run on a mix of energy that is either zero-emission or 100 percent carbon capture by mid-century* [*citation].” — Green New Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [p. 5]

Sunrise received a collaborative grant from USCAN with Power Shift Network, SustainUs and the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. Another primary funder thus far of Sunrise is the Sustainable Markets Foundation. The Sunrise address is shared with US Climate Action Network and Sierra Club (50 F St NW, Washington, DC 20016), where Sunrise trainings have been held by USCAN board members.

“One factor working in their favor was that the group didn’t start from scratch. Some of the architects of the Sunrise Movement included activists from organizations such as 350.org — which also provided some early financial support.” Inside the Sunrise Movement (it didn’t happen by accident), December 3, 2018

Prior to the Sunrise Movement, the framework of a youth led mobilization in service to capital expansion had already been identified by those at the helm. In that role, people such as Jamie Margolin, youthful founder of Zero Hour were developed by the establishment. In being trained by the likes of Al Gore (founder of Generation Investment with Goldman Sach’s David Blood), Margolin was propelled to celebrity status in a mere few months by utilizing magazines that feed the insatiable American appetite for celebrity fetish (Vogue, People, Rolling Stone). This exposure, coupled with social media recognition by “eco celebrities” (individuals with grotesquely indulgent lifestyles yet lionized as environmental stewards due to their comparatively menial philanthropic endeavours, such as Leonardo DiCaprio) is a tried and true method of manufactured celebrity.

November 6, 2018: Vanity Fair, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Across the Atlantic Ocean, more celebrities and groups that would lead “the public into emergency mode” would soon follow.

In June 2018, a Twitter account and an Instagram account were created under the name Greta Thunberg.

In July 2018, a Twitter account was created under the name Extinction Rebellion.

[Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

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The Green New Deal is in Vogue

Marketing to a key “femographic, the Green New Deal is today in vogue.

Vogue, November 2, 2018: “Bria Vinaite Explains the Green New Deal: ‘Let Vinaite fill you in on the rest of the details—and make sure to find out if your candidates support a Green New Deal when you head to the polls. If they don’t, maybe you can ask why.'” [“The foundation of Vogue’s leadership and authority is the brand’s unique role as a cultural barometer for a global audience.”]

As this series will demonstrate, young females are the key “femographic” for the AOC campaign. [See forthcoming addendum]

Green New Deal Commercial: Bria Vinaite Explains the Green New Deal [02m:19s]

+++

It is here where the machinations for the Green New Deal – the vehicle for unlocking 100 trillion dollars, and the long-awaited financialization of nature, begins to unfold.

On November 2, 2018 the Vogue Runway Twitter account shared a promotional video for the Green New Deal featuring celebrity Bria Vinaite. [“Bria Vinaite explains the Green New Deal in the latest #NowYouKnow.”] “Liking” the Vinaite tweet was Greg Carlock, architect of the Green New Deal, Green New Deal research director and senior advisor to Data for Progress, [4] and Manager for Climate Action and Data for World Resources Institute (WRI) where he leads the development of the WRI Climate Program’s flagship platform—Climate Watch. [Source] Prior to joining WRI, Carlock worked at USAID on greenhouse gas accounting and data.

Also crafting the Green New Deal is Emily Mangan, policy advisor for Data for Progress and  research analyst at World Resources Institute. Mangan  provides research support and analysis for the Green New Deal. Prior to joining WRI, Mangan worked at the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source]

Here it must be made clear that the Ocasio-Cortez and Green New Deal frenzy, is part and parcel of the strategy of “leading the public into emergency mode” launched in 2018. In reality, the Green New Deal is window dressing for what is in store. All decisions regarding all “new deals” will not be made by Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrats or any other party. Rather they will be made (and already have been made) by those that comprise the absolute ruling class.

  • September 6, 2018, 350.org, Green New Deal

World Resources Institute

December 11, 2009: World Resources Institute

April 7, 2011: World Resources Institute

September 12, 2014: World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organization that was founded in 1982 by James Speth [5] with a fifteen million dollar grant from the MacArthur Foundation. It is an international powerhouse “that works in more than 50 countries, with offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. WRI’s more than 500 experts work with leaders to address six urgent global challenges at the intersection of economic development and the natural environment: food, forests, water, climate, energy and cities.”

The WRI advisory board represents the absolute upper echelons of power within the matrix of the non-profit interlocking directorate – with a staggering amount of overlap with the hegemonic powerhouse, the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

With 98.5 million USD in funding in 2017, the exhaustive list of WRI donors [6] represent many of the most powerful and influential entities on Earth, including Alcoa Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Cargill, Caterpillar Foundation, Citi Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Oak Foundation,  Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, Shell Foundation, USAID, and the World Bank. [WRI 2017 Annual Report]

The WRI board of directors [7] include:

  • David Blood: Co-founder and senior partner of Generation Investment
  • Felipe Calderón: Former president of Mexico, chair of the Global Commission that oversees the New Climate Economy, honorary chairman of the Green Growth Action Alliance
  • Christiana Figueres: Executive secretary of the UNFCCC, The B Team leader, vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, board member of ClimateWorks, World Bank Climate Leader,  Mission2020 Convenor, member of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, credited with delivering the Paris Agreement [Full bio]
  • Jennifer Scully-Lerner: Vice president, private wealth management at Goldman Sachs
  • James Gustave Speth: Founder of WRI, former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, honorary director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and WRI, serves  on the board of The Climate Reality Project, advisory board member at 350.org, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Andrew Steer: President and CEO of the WRI. Formerly with the World Bank, serves on the sustainable advisory groups of both IKEA and the Bank of America, serves on the Executive Board of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy For All Initiative
  • Kathleen McLaughlin: Senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Walmart Inc., president of  Walmart Foundation;
  • Nader Mousavizadeh:Co-Founder and partner of Macro Advisory Partner, former chief executive of Oxford Analytica, a leading global analysis and advisory firm, former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, member of the Council of the European Council on Foreign Relations, member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Geopolitics, WEF Global Leader for Tomorrow
  • James Harmon: Chairman and CEO of Caravel Management, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Afsaneh M. Beschloss: Founder and CEO of RockCreek. Former managing director and partner at the Carlyle Group and president of Carlyle Asset Management, treasurer and chief investment officer at the World Bank, formerly with Shell International and J.P. Morgan, member of the World Economic Forum’s Investor Governors, member of the Council of Foreign Relations, recognized as one of American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking
  • Joke Brandt: Secretary General of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands
  • Jamshyd N. Godrej: Chairman of Aspen Institute – India. He is the Vice President of World Wide Fund for Nature – International and was the President of World Wide Fund for Nature – India from 2000 to 2007
  • Caio Koch-Weser: Chairman of the Board of the European Climate Foundation. Former vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Group, held high-level positions in the World Bank, member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate(NCE) and a Member of the Board of the Centre for European Reform (CER) in London

[WRI Global Leadership Council][WRI Board of Directors – Full]

WRI donors include the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, IKEA Foundation – in partnership with Agence Française de Développement, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and BlackRock – led the Climate Finance Partnership (announced September 26, 2018 at the One Planet Summit in NYC by French President Emmanuel Macron and BlackRock’s Larry Fink). The accompanying Blended Finance Taskforce, an embodiment of the world’s most powerful and financial institutions, is well represented at WRI.

April 27, 2017: World Resources Institute

The Blended Finance Taskforce was launched by Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission in 2017. The Commission, created to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“Global Goals”), was funded by institutions, foundations, and corporations including the UN, World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Unilever.

The efforts put forward by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission led to the Blended Finance Taskforce, paving the way for the  Climate Finance Partnership announced on September 26, 2018.

Polman is the CEO of Unilever, and chair of both the International Chamber of Commerce and The B Team (co-founder of We Mean Business). Polman has also been closely involved in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [8] The Blended Finance Taskforce was established in order to identify barriers to the effective use and scaling of blended finance. It is now implementing an ambitious plan of action to increase mainstream private investment for the SDGs. [Full list of Business & Sustainable Development Commissioners including Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel.]

Unilever is a member of WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group. WRI member companies include; Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, Cargill Corporation, Caterpillar, CitiGroup, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, General Motors, The Goldman Sachs Group, Google, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Shell, Walmart , Walt Disney Company, and  Weyerhaeuser. [Full list] [WRI CCG Advisory Board]

On November 15, 2018, the Climate Markets and Investment Association reported that the parties that comprise the Climate Finance Partnership would “work together to finalize the design and structure of what we anticipate will be a flagship blended capital investment vehicle by the end of the first quarter, 2019.” All media inquiries pertaining to this announcement were to be directed to Climate Nexus (People’s Climate March) or the European Climate Foundation. The task of the Blended Finance Taskforce is to unlock 100 trillion dollars to rescue  the current economic system that has now entered the late stage of “freefall”. [Disclosed in ACT IV of this series]. The required maximization and mobilization of public monies for private profits, to save the capitalist economy and further privatization, will be achieved through the climate emergency strategy that has been put into action.

Here it is critical to recognize that the New Climate Economy is a project of the WRI.

  • The Founding NGOs Behind GCCA (Global Campaign for Climate Action - TckTckTck) officially launched in 2008

The New Climate Economy

January 20, 2015: World Resources Institute, New Climate Economy Team

October 6, 2016: New Climate Economy, World Resources Institute

The New Climate Economy project is led by Helen Mountford, program director for the New Climate Economy project and director of economics at WRI. Other team members from WRI include Milan Brahmbhatt, senior fellow at WRI, and Molly McGregor, research coordinator in the president’s office at WRI. [New Climate Economy Global Project Team]

The New Climate Economy project is being “conducted by a team of economists and policy and business analysts drawn from, and supported by, a partnership of nine leading global economic and policy institutions” under the direction of WRI.

Research partners for the initiative are as follows: Climate Policy Initiative, Ethiopian Development Research, Institute, Global Green Growth Institute, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, Overseas Development Institute, Stockholm Environment Institute, and Tsinghua University.

The New Climate Economy initiative works with global institutions including the International Monetary Fund, International Energy Agency, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and UN agencies. It is overseen by a global commission comprised of former heads of government, finance ministers, a plethora of the crème de la crème of economics, business and finance. [Economic Advisory Panel] [Emeritus Commissioners]

The New Climate Economy Global Commission members include Felipe Calderón (honourary chair), Paul Polman (co-chair), Angel Gurría, Nicholas Stern (co-chair), Sharan Burrow and many other members overlapping with the WRI, Climate Finance Partnership, Blended Finance Taskforce, etc. A cabal so entrenched in corporate power that it can easily make ones head not only spin, but explode. [9] The demand for citizen groups is ironic seeing as the financialization of nature is happening behind closed doors – with a promissory note of silence from the non-profit industrial complex.

+++

The Green New Deal is tied to WRI. WRI is the New Climate Economy. The last and the most important piece of the puzzle is the Natural Capital Coalition.

Here it is imperative to note that the Natural Capital Coalition is comprised by those at the helm of the New Climate Economy and WRI.

  • January 26, 2014, World Resources Institute, New Climate Economy, Stockholm Institute

“New Deal for Nature” – Assigning Monetary Value To All of Nature 

January 26, 2019: “New Deal For Nature”, WWF

“The financial value at stake is mind-boggling – and the business opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are astonishing…. Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” — The Biosphere Economy, 2010

In tandem with orchestrating a frenzy over a Green New Deal via the non-profit industrial complex and media mechanisms, WWF et al were quietly pushing forward with a “New Deal for Nature”. The Green New Deal conjures up images of wind turbines and solar panels that are miraculously perceived as natural and holistic. [The fact that a solar panel and wind turbine has become more strongly associated with nature and environment than an actual tree, insect or animal, is in itself, quite terrifying and a stark indicator in the power of social engineering conducted on the citizenry over the last two decades.] This feat, achieved via powerful branding and NGO association, serves as the bright green mask for the even more sinister deal – the financialization of Nature – reframed as the “New Deal for Nature”.

Yet, it’s not new at all, with the Natural Capital Project (NatCap) having been launched in 2006 and its affiliate, the Natural Capital Coalition, which was formerly the TEEB for Business Coalition (prior to 2014). NatCap and its two NGO partners—WWF and The Nature Conservancy – were involved in the Natural Capital Coalition from the onset. [Source]

NatCap was founded by Stanford University [Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Department of Biology], The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the Institute on the Environment of the University of Minnesota. The scope of it’s global network includes corporations such as Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical, and institutions such as the US Department of Defense and the World Bank.

The scope of the Natural Capital Coalition is a massive conglomerate of corporate power, including many NGOs and so-called conservation bodies.

Here we can add that “Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth”, published by the World Economic Forum’s “System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security” is a partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. [Source]

“Taken all together, the value of the total global ecosystem services has been estimated at USD 125 trillion per year, which is almost twice the world’s gross domestic product.”—Natural Capital Coalition, July 12, 2018

The development of the Natural Capital Protocol Project was made possible with generous funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, International Finance Corporation (World Bank) with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Netherlands, The Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Coalition is hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Other funders include; World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Google Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, Unilever, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and the World Bank [Source]

World Resources Institute provided the technical insights and review for the Natural Capital Protocol. The protocol was developed by Conservation International, The B Team, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sustain Value, ACTS, Arcadis, eftec, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), Imperial College, ISS, Natural Capital Project, Synergiz, WWF, Accenture, CDSB, Deloitte, Dow, eni, GIST Advisory, Kering, LafargeHolcim, Natura, Nestlé, Roche, Shell, and The Nature Conservancy. The protocol was led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) consortium. [Source]

Today, the final frontier for the corporate capture of the Earth as a whole, has finally arrived. Other terms thrown into the ring for public acceptance are a “New Deal for Nature and Humanity” and a “New Deal for Nature and People”.

“The New Deal for Nature is expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.” — Biodiversity International, November 30, 2018

On January 23, 2019 the Natural Capital Coalition released an announcement stating that “In 2020, We Need A New Deal for Nature.” This article was part of the 2019 World Economic Forum “Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security” system initiatives. The authors of the article were Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Børge Brende, former Foreign Minister of Norway (2013-2017) and president and member of the managing board of the WEF. [WEF Board of Trustees, 2017] [WEF Leadership and  Governance]

The urgency in accelerating the plan forward is made clear:

“Against this backdrop, we need 2019 to be the year that sees a step-change in mobilising a wider public-private biodiversity action agenda. We need a “New Deal for Nature” to emerge.”

To make this happen, a movement is identified as the vehicle:

“A movement has the combined power and influence to be able to identify a simple set of targets for action on nature that everyone can aim for – so-called “science-based targets” to which every business, investor, NGO, city and government can contribute by 2030, such that meeting them will slow down the damage we are doing to nature, and ultimately restore it to the level science says we need.”

Over and over we are inundated with the “simple set of targets” that “everyone can aim for”. Hence, we witness the creation of mobilizations, global in scale, with no rational demands whatsoever.

The implementation of the New Deal For Nature will lay the groundwork for payments for ecosystem services (PES). This will create the most spectacular opportunity for monetary gain that the financial sector has ever witnessed. New markets offer speculation that promises unimaginable profits. The commodification of most everything sacred, the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure, will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.

In order to manufacture consent from the populace, those rolling out a “new deal for nature” are utilizing the power of  holistic language. They are strategically exploiting the very real contempt that we, the public have for externalities (pollution, etc.) – only to sell the financialization of nature back to us as a society. This is very much the same method we witness today as the power elites masterfully exploit the discontent of the youth and the population at large.

Image: Costing the Earth Interactive Game, “Play to find out the financial value of Nature”, BBC, October 8, 2015

The New Deal for Nature is the gentle easement of the mental acceptability of the financialization of nature into the public psyche, which is quite rapidly becoming a global phenomenon. So hideous is the payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme, masked under the holistic phrase “natural capital”, that it is barely mentioned outside of closed doors. But if we look closely, we can find it hidden in plain sight.

May 21, 2018: Science Can Help Forge a New Deal for Nature:

“The global community has a unique window of opportunity to define the post 2020 global biodiversity framework. It will need bold commitment and determination, innovative approaches and transformative processes to ensure that such a New Deal will be effective. At this historical juncture, let us leverage science to help forge a New Deal for Nature.” — Christiana Pasca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

November 22, 2018: A New Deal for Nature and Humanity:

“WWF strongly supports the call for a new deal for nature and people. By 2020, in just two years, we need an agreed roadmap that recognizes the intrinsic link between the health of nature, the well-being of people and the future of our planet.”

November 29,  2018: UN Biodiversity Conference Agrees on a Process Towards a New Deal for Nature and People in 2020 But Ambition is Weak:

“The 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) ended today with an agreement on the preparatory process for a post-2020 global framework, moving us closer to a transformational New Deal for Nature and People in 2020 – a vital step to ramp up global efforts to halt today’s unprecedented and dangerous biodiversity loss.

 

WWF urges member countries to develop a far higher shared vision and political ambition if we are to reach a New Deal for Nature and People and create a Paris-style moment for biodiversity in 2020.”

Welcome to the Green New Deal, New Deal For Nature, Next System, Regenerative System, New Economy, New Climate Economy, Biosphere Economy, etc. A fusion of rhapsodic and mellifluous language that creates a sublime chrysalis to further expand capital markets. The second verse is the same as the first.

A genuine rebellion against ecological devastation does not – and cannot – turn its back on capitalism, imperialism, militarism, sexism (patriarchy, misogyny) and racism (white supremacy). The main drivers of our accelerating environmental crisis. Marching for capital under the guise of marching for revolution is a fool’s game. All roads lead to the corporate capture, theft and pillage of what remains of our already decimated planet.

We end this segment with a lecture by Clive Spash (one of the very few economists with the moral courage to speak honestly on “pricing the environment”. [“The Economics of Biodiversity Management and the Problems of the Current Ecosystems Services and Market Based Policy Approaches”, Vienna, 6th December 2010]

 

 

[Further reading: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”]

Endnotes:

[1] A New Global Architecture, November 12, 2018: Børge Brende, President; Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum and panel, Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation; Young Global Leader, Helen E. Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999 – 2008), New Zealand, Roland Paris, University of Ottawa, Canada, Jean-David Levitte, Adviser, France; Former Ambassador of France to the UN and United States Hilary Cottam, Author and Entrepreneur, Centre for the Fourth Social Revolution; Young Global Leader during the Session “Shaping a New Global Architecture” at the World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

[2] “Climate Nexus, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, helps local, national, and international media recognize climate science and clean energy’s role in addressing climate change. This is accomplished by building a broad network of influential, persuasive messengers, and creating a clear, compelling narrative about climate change and ways to address its impacts.”

[3] “A former Dartmouth College professor, Dorsey is a serial organization builder & leader in for-profit, non-profit & governmental realms. In the for-profit arena, Dorsey co-founded and heads Around the Corner Capital—an energy advisory and impact finance platform. Thru Around the Corner he actively invests & advises several pools of private equity finance on renewable energy & related matters globally. Dr. Dorsey is an equity partner in the Spanish-Japanese solar firm: Univergy-CCC; and a co-founder of its India division: Univergy/ThinkGreen, based in Hyderabad.

In the non-profit arena Dr. Dorsey sits on many boards, including Food First & the Center for Environmental Health–the latter he co-created in 1997. Dorsey co-founded IslandsFirst.org. He served 11 years on the Sierra Club national board.” [Source]

[4] “Greg is Green New Deal Research Director at Data for Progress. He holds a Masters in Environmental Policy and is a researcher in climate action and data based in Washington D.C. He specializes in greenhouse gas accounting, U.S. climate and energy policy, and online data platform development. Greg uses his brain for analysis and leaves the data science to the experts.’ [Source]

[5] “Professor Speth currently serves as honorary director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and World Resources Institute and is on the boards of the Climate Reality Project, the Center for a New American Dream, and the New Economy Coalition. He is an advisory board member at United Republic, 350.org, EcoAmerica, Labor Network for Sustainability, New Economy Working Group, SC Coastal Conservation League, Environmental Law Institute, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, Heinz Center, Free Speech for People, Vermont Institute for Natural Science, the Northwest Earth Institute, and the Carbon Underground.” [Source] Speth also serves on the advisory board of The Climate Mobilization [Featured in ACT IV of this series]

[6] “Acknowledging Our Donors | Major Donors: Grants and gifts of $750,000 or more, includes revenue received 10/1/16 – 1/15/18 and older grants still open as of 10/1/16” : Alcoa Foundation • Bloomberg Philanthropies • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group • Cargill, Incorporated • Caterpillar Foundation • The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation • Citi Foundation • ClimateWorks Foundation • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy of the United Kingdom • Department of Fo reign Affairs and Trade of Australia • DOB Ecology • DOEN Foundation • Energy Agency of Sweden • European Climate Foundation • European Commission • Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU) • FedEx Corporation Ford Foundation • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation • German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) • Good Energies Foundation • Google Inc. • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation • IKEA Foundation • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) • Irish Aid – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade • Johnson Controls International plc • Linden Trust for Conservation • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida) • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (DGIS) • Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation • The Nature Conservancy • Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) • Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment • Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs • Oak Foundation • Open Society Foundations • Michael Polsky Family • Rockefeller Brothers Fund • Rockefeller Foundation • Stephen M. Ross Philanthropies • Shell Foundation • Skoll Global Threats Fund • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) • Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust • The Tilia Fund • U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) • U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UKFCO) • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) • Villum Foundation • The World Bank • Anonymous

[7]

  • Susan Tierney: former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy;
  • Pamela P. Flaherty: Former president and CEO, Citi Foundation, former director of corporate citizenship, Citi;
  • Harriet C. Babbitt: Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization;
  • Tammie Arnold: formerly with Generation Investment Management;
  • Frances Beinecke: Former President, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), United States;

Other members include Stephen Brenninkmeijer, Robin Chase, William Chen, Tiffany Clay, Dino Patti Djalal, Alice F. Emerson, Jonathan Lash, Joaquim Levy, Kathleen McLaughlin, Nader Mousavizadeh, Michael Polsky, Bill Richardson, Stephen M. Ross, William D. Ruckelshaus and Roger W. Sant.

[8] “Since 2009, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; leading the company to set out an ambitious vision to decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact. Actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable business strategies and drive systemic change. Has been closely involved in global discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and action to tackle climate change. Former Member: High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on behalf of the private sector; International Council, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, under former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. 2016, asked by the UN Secretary-General to be Member, SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Chairman, World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Member: International Business Council, World Economic Forum; B Team; Board, UN Global Compact; Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Recipient of numerous awards, including: Climate Visionary Award (2017); Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (2016); UN Foundation’s Champion for Global Change Award (2014); Oslo Business for Peace Award (2015); UN Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award (2015).” [Source]

[9] Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chad O. Holliday, Suma Chakrabarti, Helen Clark, John Flint, Kristalina Georgieva, Jamshyd Godrej, Stephen Green, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Naina Lal Kidwai, Caio Koch-Weser, Ricardo Lagos, Frannie Leautier, Patricia de Lille, Carlos Lopes, Takehiko Nakao, Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, Kristin Skogen Lund, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Maria van der Hoeven and Chen Yuan.

 

[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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [ACT III]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [ACT III]

January 28, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

This is ACT III of the six-part series: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

 

In ACT I of this new body of research I opened the dialogue with the observations of artist Hiroyuki Hamada:

 

“What’s infuriating about manipulations by the Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest the goodwill of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given the skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.”

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VI] [Addenda: I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

Volume I:

In ACT I, I disclosed that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, served as special youth advisor and trustee to the foundation established by “We Don’t Have Time”, a burgeoning mainstream tech start-up. I then explored the ambitions behind the tech company We Don’t Have Time.

In ACT II, I illustrated how today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite. Also in this act I introduced the board members and advisors to “We Don’t Have Time.” I explored the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In ACT III, I deconstruct how Al Gore and the Planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why. I explore the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal. I also touch upon Thunberg’s famous family. In particular, Thunberg’s celebrity mother, Malena Ernman (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017), and her August 2018 book launch. I then explore the generous media attention afforded to Thunberg in both May and April of 2018 by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.

In ACT IV, I examine the current campaign, now unfolding, in “leading the public into emergency mode”. More importantly, I summarize who and what this mode is to serve.

In ACT V, I take a closer look at the Green New Deal. I explore Data for Progress and the targeting of female youth as a key “femographic”. I connect the primary architect and authors of the “Green New Deal” data to the World Resources Institute. From there, I walk you through the interlocking Business & Sustainable Development Commission, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and the New Climate Economy – a project of the World Resources Institute. I disclose the common thread between these groups and the assignment of money to nature, represented by the Natural Capital Coalition and the non-profit industrial complex as an entity. Finally, I reveal how this has culminated in the implementation of payments for ecosystem services (the financialization and privatization of nature, global in scale) which is “expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.”

In the final act, ACT VI [Crescendo], I wrap up the series by divulging that the very foundations which have financed the climate “movement” over the past decade are the same foundations now partnered with the Climate Finance Partnership looking to unlock 100 trillion dollars from pension funds. I reveal the identities of individuals and groups at the helm of this interlocking matrix, controlling both the medium and the message. I take a step back in time to briefly demonstrate the ten years of strategic social engineering that have brought us to this very precipice. I look at the relationship between WWF, Stockholm Institute and World Resources Institute as key instruments in the creation of the financialization of nature. I also take a look at what the first public campaigns for the financialization of nature (“natural capital”) that are slowly being brought into the public realm by WWF. I reflect upon how mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence and further manipulate the populace by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world.

With the smoke now cleared, the weak and essentially non-existent demands reminiscent of the 2009 TckTckTck “demands” can now be fully understood.

Some of these topics, in addition to others, will be released and discussed in further detail as addenda built on the large volume of research. This includes stepping through the looking glass, with an exploration of what the real “Green New Deal” under the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like. Also forthcoming is a look at the power of celebrity – and how it has become a key tool for both capital and conformity.

[*Note: This series contains information and quotes that have been translated from Swedish to English via Google Translator.]

 

 

 

A C T   T H R E E

 

Malena Ernman: WWF Environmental Hero of the Year, 2017

Greta Thunberg’s mother and father. Opera singer Malena Ernman with husband actor Svante Thunberg at the Polar Music Prize, 2012. Ernman represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. Photo: Chapman

In October, 2018, Miljö & Utveckling recognized We Don’t Have Time founder, Ingmar Rentzhog, as Sweden’s #1 Environmental Influencer of the year. [Source: The Secret Sauce of a Global Climate Movement]

Greta Thunberg, special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, We Don’t Have Time,  was recognized as the #2 influencer of the year.

The previous month, on September 1, 2018, Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s most prominent newspaper, ran an op-ed from Global Challenge titled “The Acute Climate Crisis Requires a Broad Political Gathering”:

“Although much of the change required is both possible and profitable, vigorous political campaigns are essential to adjust prices, taxes and regulations so that the transition to a sustainable society becomes attractive, profitable and fast. ” [Full letter in English]

“The signatories stand ready to assist in the process, in support of transforming our society and the wider world into a low-carbon economy: Mats Andersson, Vice Chairman of the Global Challenges Foundation; Erik Brandsma, CEO of Jämtkraft; Malena Ernman, Opera Singer; Antje Jackelén, Archbishop; Staffan Laestadius, Professor Emeritus KTH; Kristina Persson, former Minister of the Future; Ingmar Rentzhog, Chairman of the Global Development Challenge; Johan Rockström, Professor of Environmental Sciences SU; Daniel Sachs, CEO of Proventus; and Anders Wijkman, Chairman of the Club of Rome.”

Anders Wijkman, cited in the above signatories, is a former member of parliament, chairman of the Swedish Environment Council and the former co-president of the Club of Rome. He is also a member of Global Utmaning with a special commitment to climate issues and circular finances.

Also cited in the above signatories is Malena Ernman, mother of Greta Thunberg.

In an interview published October 15, 2018 recognizing Rentzhog as the “#1 Environmental Influencer of the year”, Miljö & Utveckling asks Rentzhog who are his greatest influences. He cites Greta Thunberg, yet does not mention the assistance his company provided Thunberg (current We Don’t Have Time special youth advisor and trustee) that would result in her campaign going international. Nor does he identify his relationship with Thunberg’s mother, Marlena Ernman, who is briefly cited in the same article.

Earlier in the year, on May 4, 2018, Rentzhog and Ernman were both featured guests at the Friday opening gala of the climate conference (“climate change day”) held from May 4-6 in Stockholm, Sweden. Greta Thunberg’s sister, Beata Ernman-Thunberg, was also featured in the program. This was a low key, modest event.

Thunberg was born into privilege and wealth.

Her mother is Swedish opera singer and celebrity Malena Ernman. Her father is actor Svante Thunberg, while her grandfather is actor and director Olof Thunberg. “Her ancestor on her father’s side is the Nobel Prize winner, Svante Arrhenius. Arrhenius was a Swedish physicist and chemist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. He is known for myriad scientific contributions but it was his discovery that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the Earth’s surface temperature. That finding led to the conclusion that human-made carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.” [Source][On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground, Svante Arrhenius, 1896]

The newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) is the third largest in circulation in Sweden. It has been generous in its coverage of both Thunberg and her mother, Ernman.

On May 30, 2018, SvD selected Thunberg as one of its winning laureates in the SvD youth writing competition for the climate.

Prior to this, on April 21, 2018 SvD gave coverage of the families book that was underway. The book “Scener ur Hjärtat” (which translates in English to “Scenes of the Heart”), about the mental health challenges within her family coupled with anxieties facing climate change, would be launched on August 24, 2018, four days following the first day of Thunberg’s school strike (August 20, 2018).

World Wildlife Fund (WWF), perhaps the most corporate and egregious NGO in the world, and a fully corporatized Greenpeace, have both been instrumental in the propping up of Thunberg with the support of other international NGOs such as 350.org. On October 11, 2017, WWF Sweden awarded Ernman with the Environmental Hero award.

Artist Malena Ernman and biologist Rebecka Le Moine appointed Miljöhälter of the Year by WWF” [Source]

On September 17, 2018, WWF Sweden named Thunberg as one of its three nominees for the Young Environmental Hero of the year 2018.

Greenpeace Sweden: ” Malena Ernman is an incredible activist in the fight to preserve our forest for future generations. Thanks to the support of her, and all of you other amazing people who support us, we can continue to protect our outstanding planet. Do you also want to give away a Christmas present that makes a real difference?” [Source: Facebook]

Greenpeace also utilizes Ernman, and Thunberg, to promote their powerful brand. Few are aware that in 1997, Greenpeace believed that climate policy must reflect the understanding that the world must not exceed a 1ºC temperature rise. Yet not long after, in 2009, with a full ecological crisis now engulfing the planet, Greenpeace led the demand (at the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen), for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2ºC. The 2ºC demand, under the umbrella group TckTckTck, co-founded by Greenpeace, would undermine Bolivia, the G77 and other small island states that had fought for a binding agreement to keep global temperatures from exceeding 1ºC. The following year, 350.org – another co-founder of TckTckTck – would undermine the Indigenous peoples of Bolivia yet again at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

+++

“Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart”

“But the more important fact remains: the mainstream debate is about how to practise capitalism, not whether we should choose between capitalism and some other system.” — Generation Investment

“We are making the case for long-term greed.” Al Gore and David Blood, in Generation’s New York City Office. August 25, 2015. (Christopher Griffith) [Source]

Utilizing the power of celebrity (an unprecedented phenomenon for the expansion of capital in the west), today’s global influencers such as Thunberg, are fully utilized to create a sense of urgency in regard to the climate crisis. The unspoken reality is, they are the very marketing strategy to save capitalism. This is a very “inconvenient truth”.

The Financial Times, July 27, 2014:

“Now is a crucial moment for investors, he continues. “The next five to 10 years is the most critical time to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. We think capitalism is in danger of falling apart. As a result, the business, which has been fairly reticent in the past about the mechanics of investing sustainably, is planning to increase its visibility. ‘We need to go all in. We are going to be more aggressive because we have to.'” — Blood and Gore: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart”, Financial Times, July 27, 2014

The September 8, 2015 article “David Blood and Al Gore Want to Reach the Next Generation” published by Institutional Investor, disclosed that “the California State Teachers’ Retirement System [CalSTRS], the second-­largest public pension fund in the U.S., with $191 billion in assets, was the first American institutional investor to invest in Generation.” This was part and parcel of the divestment campaign led by Ceres partner 350.org on behalf of wall street and finance. Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS, also serves on the board of Ceres.

The same article sheds light on the driving force behind the environmental NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex and interlocking directorate highway that merges the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) with the corporate world of finance:

“I would highly recommend people who are looking to divest from carbon take a look at Generation,’ says Larry Schweiger, a longtime conservationist and a board member of the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit founded by Gore to promote education and initiatives about climate change. Schweiger was president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation from 2004 to 2014; under his watch the NWF became a Generation investor. ‘It was one of the best-­performing investments in our portfolio.’ he says.” — September 8, 2015, “David Blood and Al Gore Want to Reach the Next Generation,  Institutional Investor

Jumping forward, to April 29, 2018, the article, Al Gore: Sustainability is History’s Biggest Investment Opportunity, published by the Financial Times, discloses “climate wealth” is not for the many, but rather for the few:

“Generation lists large public sector investors among its clients, such as Calstrs, the $223bn Californian teachers’ pension plan, the $192bn New York State pension plan and the UK’s Environment Agency retirement fund. It also manages money for wealthy individuals but has stopped short of opening to retail investors. Almost all its assets are run in equity mandates, yet $1bn is invested in private equity.” [Source]

“I called Generation Income and found that their investment opportunities are limited.  They have two investment funds – Global Equity and Asia Equity.  The Global Equity fund is currently closed – there is a multi-year waiting list that is also currently closed.  The minimum investment is $1 million and you need to be super-accredited.  The fund seems to be targeted at institutional investors – not individuals.  The Asia Equity fund is open but the same minimum requirements apply ($1M minimum).” [Source: AIO Financial]

Generation Investment board members include eco-luminaries such as Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland and the founder of the nonprofit, Mary Robinson Foundation. Robinson serves as president to Richard Branson’s B Team, which is managed by Purpose – the  public relations arm of Avaaz.

February 9, 2007: Sir Richard Branson (L) and former vice-president of the United States of America, Al Gore pose at the launch of The Virgin Earth Challenge in London. The challenge is for a USD 25M science and technology prize fund for viable products to remove atleast 1 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year. (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

 

At this juncture, seeing as we are being led to believe that “sustainable investments” are the pathway to solving our planetary crisis, it might be wise to ask in what sustainable corporations Generation Investment is investing. Generation Investment has created a focus list of some 125 companies around the world in which it invests not based on how sustainable the business is, but rather, “on the quality of their business and management.” [Source]

Generation Investment’s portfolio and investments include multinational corporations with horrendous records of malfeasance, such as Amazon, Nike, Colgate, MasterCard, and the Chipotle restaurant chain with heavy investments in health and technology. And as all of these corporations are heavily invested and/or dependent on fossil fuels, how Generation Investment can justify investing in these companies is anyone’s guess.

“[Gore] and his colleagues are aiming at a small audience within the financial world that steers the flow of capital, and at the political authorities that set the rules for the financial system. ‘It turns out that in capitalism, the people with the real influence are the ones with capital!’ Gore told me during one of our talks this year. The message he hopes Generation’s record will call attention to is one the world’s investors can’t ignore: They can make more money if they change their practices in a way that will, at the same time, also reduce the environmental and social damage modern capitalism can do.” [Source]

[Tracking Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management Portfolio]

Above: The Washington D.C, 2017 People’s Climate March:  “The B Team, led by Sir Richard Branson, Sharan Burrow and former Vice President Al Gore, joined hundreds of thousands of workers, scientists, business leaders, students, parents, grandparents, children and indigenous groups demanding action on climate change by the U.S. administration.” [Source]

“It’s about an industrial transformation on a scale that we’ve never seen before.” — Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, B Team leader [Video]

 

“This is the biggest economic opportunity of our lifetime. This movement has left the station and is never going to stop.” — Jean Oelwang, President, Virgin Unite, Senior Partner, The B Team

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An Inconvenient Case Study: M-Kopa Solar, Africa

Source: M-Kopa website

“We think it’s possible to build a business with no trade-offs. We can benefit the environment. Our customers will be better off. And we’ll get richer. We all can win.” M-Kopa Canadian co-founder, Jesse Moore

Gore, with a net worth of approx. 350 million dollars, pays much lip service to subjects of inequality, wealth disparity and poverty.  Thus, it is useful to actually take a look at what the much hyped green energy revolution actually looks like, when played out in real life and exactly who is being served by the so-called “green revolution”.

M-Kopa Solar – “Power for Everyone” is a pay-per-use solar power provider (in the form of solar kits) created for impoverished African countries by white uber rich capitalists. The countries targeted thus far include rural Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

M-Kopa is the brainchild of Jesse Moore (CEO), Chad Larson and Nick Hughes —who helped develop M-Pesa, which has more than 19 million users in Kenya. [1]

From its inception, Gore’s firm has been a lead equity investor of M-Kopa. Incubated by Signal Point Partners in 2011, M-Kopa Solar raised money from investors including Richard Branson and Generation Investment Management. Launching in late 2012, the company’s initial goal of selling 1,000 solar packages a week within three years was reached within 12 months. On December 2, 2015, M-Kopa, now the world’s leading “pay-as-you-go energy provider to off-grid homes”, announced the closing of a 19 million USD financing round led by Generation Investment Management LLP. [Source]

Included on the M-Kopa board of advisors is Colin Le Duc, a founding partner of Generation Investment Management and the Co-CIO of Generation’s growth equity Climate Solutions Funds.

Other investors/lenders/partners include Shell Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At this juncture, before we continue, it is vital to note that, in 2015, M-Kopa estimated that eighty percent of its customers lived on less than 2 USD per day.

By 2015, M-Kopa had reached over 40 million USD in revenue.

The December 2, 2015 Bloomberg article “The Solar Company Making a Profit on Poor Africans – M-Kopa Plans to be a $1 Billion Company by Selling Solar Panels to Rural Residents—and Providing Them With Credit” discloses the reality behind corporate vulturism hidden beneath a vellum of white saviour greenwash. Following the “success” of prepaid water meters for many African countries, M-Kopa charges high interest rates to the poor, with astronomically higher dividends/returns going back to the rich:

The interest M-Kopa charges is high by U.S. or European standards. The cash price of one of its products is about 20 percent less than the installment price. But in the markets where the company’s working—so far, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—the rates are competitive. Traditional microfinance companies typically charge about 20 percent interest on their loans, and in October the Kenyan government issued treasury bills that offered investors a 23 percent annual return.”

Upon first glance, a person would assume this business is the selling of solar. Yet this assumption would be a mistake. The product is finance: “About a quarter of those who pay off their first purchase move on to others, the company says.” This is colonization in a 21st century new form. Colonization via debt made possible by the selling of Western values.

Other vultures exploiting the impoverished and vulnerable under the guise of green and “clean energy for all” include stalwart organizations, such as the Gates Foundation and Mastercard.

Unlike Western finance, where loans are usually paid in monthly installments, Africans are not given this same measure of trust. Rather, on top of a deposit, they must pay for their new loan (debt) on a daily basis. Perhaps this can be filed under “green energy racism”. Those that do not make their payments, will be punished accordingly: “Our loan officer is that SIM card in the device that can shut it off remotely,” says Chad Larson, M-Kopa’s finance director and its third co-founder. “We know that it’s important for them to keep their lights on at night, so they can be counted on to keep paying.” [Source] [“The pay-as-you-go feature is enabled by embedded machine-to-machine technology that allows M-KOPA to receive payments through the M-Pesa mobile money platform. M-KOPA can turn off the device remotely if the customer falls behind on payments. Repayments create a credit history for poor consumers that may give them access to other financial services.”][Source]

“The solar lamps are programmed in such a way that they automatically switch off whenever customers default on the daily payments. The start-up provides a solar power system that consists of a panel, three lamps, radio and mobile phone charging kit.” — M-Pesa solar dealer to blacklist defaulters with credit bureaus, February 18, 2015

Daily payments for M-Kopa are topped up through the M-Pesa service whereby Safaricom, the largest telecommunications corporation in Kenya (and the most profitable company in the East and Central African region) earns an undisclosed fee for every transaction. M-Kopa and Kenya Power, are Safaricom’s biggest pay-billing clients. [In 2015, Kenya’s Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore was the fourth African to join Richard Branson’s B Team – Ventures Africa].

“We don’t invest in solar at all,” says David Rossow, who helps manage the Gates Foundation’s $1.5 billion portfolio of program-related investments (PRIs). The foundation doesn’t even have a clean energy program. But it does have a program called Financial Services for the Poor. “We care about asset-backed lending for the last mile.” [Source]

Of further value for our white saviour entrepreneurs is the valuable metadata: ” M-Kopa’s current customer contract stipulates that the data the company amasses can be used only to improve customer experience, but the company has plans to collect listener and viewership data from its radios and televisions. ‘There’s data we can gather that practically no one else can,’ [Chad] Larson says.”

And what does the green energy revolution, wholly dependent on the further plundering of the Earth, actually bring to Africa, where more than 600 million people have zero access to electricity and more than 300 million have no clean sanitation? A solar oven? A toilet? Water filtration? Plumbing? Schools? Health clinics? Hospitals? Answer: the television.

“Make your payments in full and on time, so you can qualify for system upgrades and much more!” — M-Kopa website

And just because the business is actually finance, more than it is providing solar products, [2] that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample opportunity to rob African people blind. The price of the basic 24-inch television solar kit [2-1][2-2] when financed is an outrageous 644.88 USD. The cash price is still a whopping 546.61 USD, which is an exorbitant sum for people who exist on $2 (USD) per day. Of course, this price only remains so if the daily payments are made each and every day, ensuring no additional interest or penalties accumulate on top of the original loan amount.

The gross exploitation here is beyond the pale. Consider a 30W solar package comparable to the M-Kopa package above can be purchased retail for 157.99 USD on Amazon. Likewise, the price of a basic 24-inch LED television is often advertised in the United States and Canada for under 100.00 USD/CND. Many of the items sold in the packages, [2-3], can be found in the proliferating Western “dollar” stores for $1.00 (USD) each.

 

Photo: M-Kopa

One might wonder what happens when the loans outlive the outsourced products with short-lived warranties – a two-year warranty on the 24-inch television and a one-year warranty on accessories.

Between bombing campaigns on African countries, former US president Barrack Obama found time to visit the M-Kopa solar corporation. “US President Barack Obama talks to June Muli, M-Kopa’s head of customer care, during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi in July 2015. Photo: M-Kopa.” [Source: Forbes]


In February 2015, M-Kopa announced its plan to have their customers, who defaulted on their loans, blacklisted with credit bureaus:

“M-Pesa-linked solar dealer, M-Kopa, will from April begin sharing information on loan defaulters with credit reference bureaus to arrest the rising number of non-payers. The firm has issued a notice saying it plans to share information on how customers pay for their M-Kopa solar kits, in a move that will see defaulters blacklisted by lenders. M-Kopa now joins other utility providers such as Kenya Power and water service boards which have taken to credit reference bureaus to list those who default on paying their bills.” [Source]

Credit and the perpetual debt that ensues is not the only aspect of the American dream that multinational corporations are bringing to the Global South.

To be clear, it’s not “sustainable economies” that our corporate overlords pursue. A capitalism that is in trouble, must seek out – in order to save itself, new markets:

“The Gates Foundation’s team saw in M-KOPA an opportunity to demonstrate that mobile financial services could help businesses get more such valuable products into the hands of a new market of eager consumers: poor people.” [Source]

“The key was helping M-KOPA turn its customer accounts into bankable collateral. Other investors were taking equity positions in the startup. The Gates Foundation instead made a $5 million loan, alongside the Commercial Bank of Africa. The thesis: if M-KOPA could successfully pay back the loan, local commercial banks would see the payments from pay-as-you-go financing schemes as a reliable revenue stream. That would create a new lendable asset class.” — Banking on the Poor, summer, 2016, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Here we must look at the reality behind the “green jobs” – that M-Kopa created – a pivotal selling feature of the so-called “green economy”, new green deal, sustainable development / global goals, and a myriad of other holistic sounding language that mask reality.

What is rarely mentioned, if ever, is the fact that the M-Kopa solar panels, televisions, etc. are not made locally, rather, they are “sourced from overseas markets.” (China) Although the company has suggested that solar panels may be made locally over the next few years, (likely due to the growing animosity from Kenyans), the following information will demonstrate that this will only be the case if Kenyans can be exploited more so than Chinese.

Chad Larson, co-founder and finance director of M-Kopa Solar, poses for a photograph at the headquarters of M-Kopa Solar in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Customers agree to pay for the solar panel with regular instalments which M-Kopa, a Nairobi-based provider of solar-lighting systems, then monitors for payments that are made using a mobile-phone money-transfer service. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

In the March 19, 2018 article, Solar Firm M-Kopa Lays off 450 Staff to Cut Costs, published by Business Daily Africa, the reason for doing so was disclosed in no uncertain terms:

“Kenya’s mobile phone-based solar kit reseller M-Kopa Solar fired 450 workers in its subsidiaries in four countries to ease operational costs and boost profitability.

 

M-Kopa co-founder and CEO Jesse Moore said the firm was in a better position to meet its targets and expand solar connections to the next one million customers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania offices.

 

‘This was done to reduce fixed costs and keep us on the path to profitability which resulted in job reductions across offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and UK, reducing our global headcount by 18 per cent,’ he said.”

An article published by Quartz Africa four days prior, on March 15, 2018, was even more to the point:

“M-Kopa, the Kenyan pay-per-use solar power provider, is downsizing in a bid to improve its competitiveness, ensure long-term sustainability, and increase return for investors.”

This is worth emphasizing. To be clear – this is a profitable increase for investors, with net-worths of millions of dollars – made at the expense of firing workers making approx. $2.00 USD per day.

March 15, 2018: M-KOPA secures 100million Ksh from CDC, FinDev Canada: CIO East Africa (L-R) Jesse Moore, Co-Founder and CEO, M-KOPA and Paul Lamontagne, Managing Director of FinDev Canada during a customer site visit in Ngong.

Immediately following the sacking of African M-Kopa employees – along with outsourcing – Generation Investment put up more funding. The  March 21, 2018, article “M-Kopa Solar Receives $10 Million Investment After Sacking 150 Employees” published by the Kenyan Wall Street, disclosed the following:

“The investment comes after the company completed a restructuring exercise that saw staff count reduce by 18% from 1000 to 850 across East Africa. As we reported last week, about 78 developers were fired and their work has now been outsourced to a foreign company called Applicita that is owned by the company’s new CTO.

 

According to the CEO Jesse Moore, the restructuring process has been driven by the need to increase its competitiveness, enhance long-term sustainability, and boost investors’ returns.

 

The FinDev investment was led by CDC Group, an investor that had formerly pumped $7 million into the company, and includes follow-on investments by Generation Investment Management and LGT Venture Philanthropy. The two firms are current M-Kopa shareholders.”

The white colonization that continues to proliferate was not lost on Kenyan Wall Street which noted:

“… the company continues to raise eyebrows over its status as a Kenyan startup since its senior management is mostly composed of foreigners. What’s more, the matter of sacking local employees to outsource its operations to a foreign company will not go forgotten.”

+++

“The Gathering” & Nurturing of Foundation Funded Pragmatism

As disclosed in ACT I of this series, the very first people tagged in the initial Thunberg school strike tweet by We Don’t Have Time founder, Ingmar Rentzhog, were the following five Twitter users: Greta Thunberg, This Is Zero Hour, Jamie Margolin, the teenage founder of This Is Zero Hour, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and the People’s Climate Strike Twitter account (in the identical font and aesthetics as 350.org).

The first tweets from any given NGO Twitter accounts are important as they often reveal exactly for what purpose/action the account was created for. In this particular instance, the very first tweet from the People’s Climate Strike account contained the hashtag #floodthesystem (July 24, 2015). This hashtag was devised to promote the action named Flood Wall Street, which took place on September 28, 2015, leading up to the second People’s Climate March on November 29, 2015. In 2015, the first to start using the #floodthesystem hashtag were This Changes Everything (NGO of Naomi Klein, 350.org board member), May 6, 2015; OccuWorld, May 12, 2015 (“something big is coming this fall”), retweeted by Rising Tide North America, Sharon Vardatira, Meridian Consulting, May 13, 2015, and Occupy Wall Street, May 20, 2015.

The strategy behind devising different social media accounts affiliated with hashtags, campaigns and NGO manufactured movements, is one that will catch fire. Such is the case with the Climate Strike Twitter account (Climate Strike! – Global Climate Convergence) that was largely abandoned by 2017, and #EarthStrike, which largely failed to catch fire (thus far), to this very recent climate strike – as a hashtag – that has struck gold with the public psyche.

The “one 15 year old girl” tweet was then re-tweeted by Paola Fiore, founder and CEO of ETICAMBIENTE® Sustainability Management & Communications Consulting. Fiore is also the National Coordinator for Italy for The Climate Reality Project Europe. [1] Affiliations, memberships and partnerships of Fiore’s firm include, but are not limited to, the Association for Coaching, Eco Community, United Planet Faith & Science Initiative (Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a founding member as is Dr. Rajendra Pachauri), 2degrees (funded by the European Commission), and the International Coach Federation. ETICAMBIENTE® holds membership with both The Climate Reality Project, and it’s client, the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

The first “follows”‘ selected from any given NGO Twitter account are also important as they often reveal who created the account – or those closest affiliated with the project. In this instance, the first two follows for the People’s Climate Strike Twitter account (created June 2015) are Cheri  Honkala and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign founded by Honkala. Honkala was the “Our Revolution” endorsed candidate for Pensylvania State Representative (#WeAreThe197th) in 2017.

With the formation of board announced on August 29, 2016, the 2018 Our Revolution winning candidates included Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On September 18, 2018 Our Revolution (OR) and the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) announced a formal partnership established by both of the organizations national boards.  “PDA  is a grassroots political action committee, founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and U.S. politics by electing progressives to federal office.” The PDA National Advisory Board includes members of US Congress, documentary film maker Michael Moore, commentator Thom Hartmann, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink and others of high liberal status.[5]

Recently, a new institute was launched which is partnered with Our Revolution: The Sanders Institute (“Our Mission: To Revitalize Democracy”). The inaugural conference (The Sanders Institute Gathering) took place in Burlington, Vermont (US) from November 29 – December 1, 2018. The invite only event  included the crème de la crème of the liberal political establishment including; Bernie Sanders who delivered the keynote, 350.org board member Naomi Klein and 350.org founder Bill McKibben ( Sanders Institute fellow) who both spoke on the New Green DealJeffrey Sachs (Sanders Institute fellow), Cornel West (Sanders Institute fellow) New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Nina Turner (Ohio state senator, president of Our Revolution), Ben Cohen (Ben & Jerry’s), and U.S. representative Tulsi Gabbard (Sanders Institute fellow) [Full list]

The green bourgeoisie rubbed elbows with “celebrity activists” including Susan Sarandon, John Cusack, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte (Glover and Belafonte are both Sanders Institute fellows). WCAX News reported that the only debate that night was whether or not media would be allowed into the event. Ultimately the media was given access to the event, yet had to adhere to conditions of who they were, and who not allowed to record. (So much for freedom of the press.)

Participants spoke passionately about Indigenous rights, racism, etc. at the invite only event of predominantly white rich saviours who are presented as the leaders of our only salvation. In reality, they are only trying to salvage a system (via reforms) in which they are flourishing. Another inconvenient truth at odds with the gathering, are the promotional videos produced for the institute, which deliberately strive to give the pretense of politically correct diversity and inclusion.

July 20, 2018: Zero Hour’s Jamie Margolin is to the left of Bernie Sanders (centre). Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is in the back row, far right. “Organizers with Zero Hour meet with Sen. Bernie Sanders during their lobbying day Thursday.” Photo: Courtesy of Zero Hour [Source]

As previously highlighted, Zero Hour is one of the five Twitter accounts tagged in the first Thunberg school strike tweet. Partners of This Is Zero Hour include; We Don’t Have Time, 350.org, The Climate Reality Project, the Sierra Club, Power Shift, the Sunrise Movement and many other NGOs that garner much power and influence within the non-profit industrial complex.

September 20, 2018, Twitter: “Thank you Vice President @algore for your support & endorsement of the #ThisIsZeroHour movement”

January 4, 2019, Twitter

Other Zero Hour partners include Powershift, iMatterYouth, CareBoutClimate, ClimateSign, Sierra Club, 350.org and Citizens Climate.

In this December 10, 2018 tweet (9:35AM), ten Twitter accounts were tagged; 350.org, We Don’t Have Time, the Sunrise Movement, Teen Vogue, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Women’s March, Our Children’s Trust, Zero Hour, and March for Our Lives.

Activism & Corporatism Working Hand in Hand

The Climate Group,  is a co-founder of We Mean Business – a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most powerful corporations and investors. [6]

Perhaps the most noteworthy online exchange were the “words of encouragement” extended via Twitter by The Climate Group [6] to Zero Hour for leading the Youth Climate March in July, 2018. Also of significance were the hashtags used in The Climate Group tweets: #WeDontHaveTime and #FrontlineYouth. This effectively illuminates the strategy and the key players behind the “climate movement” – where the NGOs, their funders, and the corporate entities are all on the same team.

This is not kindness. This is exquisite, albeit callous strategy.

Incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as an in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution, The Climate Group is a co-founder of We Mean Business – “a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.” The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) (full membership and associate members list), CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Together, these groups represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars for the fourth industrial revolution.

As I will demonstrate in the next segment of this series, the “frontline youth” energy is strategically being mobilized by a highly organized and sophisticated climate campaign. This same energy is being captured, then channeled back to save, strengthen and expand, the capitalist, hegemonic system that promises to destroy the future for these very same youth. One could call this a circular death economy. It takes much skill and coordination to “herd cats” [7] – to their own slaughter.

 

  • July 5, 2017, Al Gore, Generation Investment, "Sustainability Revolution"

 

End Notes:

[1] M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service. It was launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom (the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania it has expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania, and Albania.) In Kenya, M-Pesa is being utilized to impose a debt ideology/familiarity that reflects western debt ideology.

[2] The company M-KOPA offers the following three(3) product packages:

[2-1] The M-KOPA 5 Solar Home System can be purchased with a deposit of $2,999.00 Ksh. ($29.75 USD), plus 420 daily payments of $50.00 Ksh($0.50 USD). This total payment, including the deposit, is $23,999.00 Ksh. ($238.03 USD). The cash purchase price with no financing is  $18,999.00 Ksh. ($188.44 USD). [Accessed January 27, 2019]

The “M-KOPA 5 Solar Home System” includes one 8W solar panel, one rechargeable radio, one M-KOPA 5 control unit with a lithium battery, four 1.2W LED bulbs, one 5-in-1 phone charge cable, one custom charge cable, and one rechargeable LED torch.

[3-2]  The M-KOPA 600 requires a deposit of $5,999.00 UGX. ($59.50 USD), plus 590 daily payments of $100.00 Ksh($0.99 USD). The total payment, including the deposit, is $64,999.00 Ksh. ($644.68 USD). The cash purchase price with no financing is  $ 1,999,000.00 Ksh. ($546.61 USD).” [Accessed January 27, 2019]

The “M-KOPA 600 (24? TV)” package includes one M-KOPA 600 control unit, one 24-inch flat screen digital TV, one 30W solar panel, one TV remote control, one TV aerial, two solar lights, one solar rechargeable LED torch, one solar rechargeable radio, and two phone charging cables. “Satellite Dish & CAM Card provided separately.”

[3-3]  The M-KOPA 600 w/ Zuku CAM requires a deposit of $6,999.00 UGX. ($69.42 USD), plus 590 daily payments of $135.00 Ksh($1.34 USD). The total payment, including the deposit, is $86,649.00 Ksh. ($859.42 USD). The cash purchase price with no financing is  $ 69,999.00 Ksh. ($694.27 USD).” [Accessed January 27, 2019]

[4] We create and promote innovative sustainability programs and corporate social responsibility initiatives, and offer strategic advisory services on climate change and the SDGs.

[5] The PDA National Advisory Board includes members of US Congress: Representatives Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, and James McGovern; as well as documentarian Michael Moore, Actress / Activist Mimi Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler, Author Jim Hightower, and Radio Hosts / Authors Lila Garrett and Thom Hartmann. Activists Michael Lighty, Medea Benjamin, Steve Cobble, Kristin Cabral, Dr. Paul Song, M.D., Belen Sisa, and Professor Marjorie Cohn also serve on the PDA Advisory Board, which is chaired by the exemplary activist Donna Smith.” [Source][Full Board Accessed January 10, 2019]

[6] The Climate Group: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also acts as an incubator for in-house projects that later evolve into free-standing institutions – a case in point being ‘The Climate Group’, launched in London in 2004.  The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being that of the big NGO Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates unproven carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass as crucial technologies for a low-carbon economy. The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash”. The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India, and North America.  It was a partner to the ‘Copenhagen Climate Council’.

[7] Forbes, September 25, 2014: Leadership Lessons from The People’s Climate March:“With that as her model of leadership it is perhaps no surprise that so many cats have been so successfully herded. But there is more. The other leadership lesson is putting project before person.” [Source]

 

[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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

 

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [ACT I]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [ACT I]

By Cory Morningstar

January 17, 2019

 

“What’s infuriating about manipulations by the Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest the goodwill of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given the skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.” Hiroyuki Hamada, artist

 

1958: “17-year-old Bianca Passarge of Hamburg dresses up as a cat, complete with furry tail, and dances on wine bottles. Her performance was based on a dream and she practised for eight hours every day in order to perfect her dance.”

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VI] [Addenda: I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

Volume I:

In ACT I, I disclosed that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, served as special youth advisor and trustee to the foundation established by “We Don’t Have Time”, a burgeoning mainstream tech start-up. I then explored the ambitions behind the tech company We Don’t Have Time.

In ACT II, I illustrate how today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite. Also in this act I introduce the board members of and advisors to We Don’t Have Time. I explore the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between the well-established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In ACT III, I deconstruct how Al Gore and the planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why. I explore the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal. I also touch upon Thunberg’s famous family. In particular, Thunberg’s celebrity mother, Malena Ernman (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017) and her August 2018 book launch. I then explore the generous media attention afforded to Thunberg in both May and April of 2018 by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.

In ACT IV, I examine the current campaign, now unfolding, in “leading the public into emergency mode”. More importantly, I summarize who and what this mode is to serve.

In ACT V, I take a closer look at the Green New Deal. I explore Data for Progress and the targeting of female youth as a key “femographic”. I connect the primary architect and authors of the “Green New Deal” data to the World Resources Institute. From there, I walk you through the interlocking Business & Sustainable Development Commission, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the New Climate Economy – a project of the World Resources Institute. I disclose the common thread between these groups and the assignment of money to nature, represented by the Natural Capital Coalition and the non-profit industrial complex as an entity. Finally, I reveal how this has culminated in the implementation of payments for ecosystem services (the financialization and privatization of nature, global in scale) which is “expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.”

In the final act, ACT VI [Crescendo], I wrap up the series by divulging that the very foundations which have financed the climate “movement” over the past decade are the same foundations now partnered with the Climate Finance Partnership looking to unlock 100 trillion dollars from pension funds. I reveal the identities of individuals and groups at the helm of this interlocking matrix, controlling both the medium and the message. I take a step back in time to briefly demonstrate the ten years of strategic social engineering that have brought us to this very precipice. I look at the relationship between WWF, Stockholm Institute and World Resources Institute as key instruments in the creation of the financialization of nature. I also take a look at the first public campaigns for the financialization of nature (“natural capital”) that are slowly being brought into the public realm by WWF. I reflect upon how mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence and further manipulate the populace by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world.

With the smoke now cleared, the weak and essentially non-existent demands reminiscent of the 2009 TckTckTck “demands” can now be fully understood.

Some of these topics, in addition to others, will be released and discussed in further detail as addenda built on the large volume of research. This includes stepping through the looking glass, with an exploration of what the real “Green New Deal” under the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like. Also forthcoming is a look at the power of celebrity – and how it has become a key tool for both capital and conformity.

[*Note: This series contains information and quotes that have been translated from Swedish to English via Google Translate.]

 

 

A C T   O N E

 

“How is it possible for you to be so easily tricked by something so simple as a story, because you are tricked? Well, it all comes down to one core thing and that is emotional investment. The more emotionally invested you are in anything in your life, the less critical and the less objectively observant you become.” — David JP Phillips, We Don’t Have Time board of directors, “The Magical Science of Storytelling”

 

 

October 26, 2018, Facebook: Greta Thunberg, We Don’t Have Time

 

August 2018, Finance Monthly: co-founder of We Don’t Have Time, Ingmar Rentzhog

We Don’t Have Time

As this term is quickly becoming the quote du jour as a collective mantra to address the ongoing environmental disaster that can best be described as a nod to the obvious, it’s true that we don’t have time. We don’t have time to stop imperialist wars – wars being the greatest contributor to climate change and environmental degradation by far – but we must do so. Of course this is an impossible feat under the crushing weight of the capitalist system, a US war economy, and the push for a fourth industrial revolution founded on renewable energy. Yet, inconvenience has nothing to do with necessity in regards to addressing a particular situation. What is never discussed in regard to the so-called “clean energy revolution” is that its existence is wholly dependent on “green” imperialism – the latter term being synonymous with blood.

But that’s not what this series is about.

This series is about new financial markets in a world where global economic growth is experiencing stagnation. The threat and subsequent response is not so much about climate change as it is about the collapse of the capitalist economic system. This series is about the climate wealth opportunity of unprecedented growth, profits, and the measures our elite classes will take in order to achieve it – including the exploitation of the youth.

What is We Don’t Have Time?

 

“Our goal is to become among the biggest players on the internet.” — Ingmar Rentzhog, We Don’t Have Time, December 22, 2017, Nordic Business Insider

On August 20, 2018 a tweet featuring a photo of “a Swedish girl” sitting on a sidewalk was released by the tech company, We Don’t Have Time, founded by its CEO Ingmar Rentzhog:

“One 15 year old girl in front of the Swedish parliament is striking from School until Election Day in 3 weeks[.] Imagine how lonely she must feel in this picture. People where [sic] just walking by. Continuing with the business as usual thing. But the truth is. We can’t and she knows it!”

Rentzhog’s tweet, via the We Don’t Have Time twitter account, would be the very first exposure of Thunberg’s now famous school strike.

Above: We Don’t Have Time tweet, August 20, 2018

Tagged in Rentzhog’s “lonely girl” tweet were five twitter accounts: Greta Thunberg, Zero Hour (youth movement), Jamie Margolin (the teenage founder of Zero Hour), Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and the People’s Climate Strike twitter account (in the identical font and aesthetics as 350.org). [These groups will be touched upon briefly later in this series.]

Rentzhog is the founder of Laika (a prominent Swedish communications consultancy firm providing services to the financial industry, recently acquired by FundedByMe). He was appointed as chair of the think tank Global Utmaning (Global Challenge in English) on May 24, 2018, and serves on the board of FundedByMe. Rentzhog is a member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Organization Leaders, where he is part of the European Climate Policy Task Force. He received his training in March 2017 by former US Vice President Al Gore in Denver, USA, and again in June 2018, in Berlin.

Founded in 2006, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project is a partner of We Don’t Have Time.

The We Don’t Have Time Foundation cites two special youth advisors and trustees: Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin. [Source]

Screenshot

Mårten Thorslund, chief marketing and sustainability officer of We Don’t Have Time, took many of the very first photos of Thunberg following the launch of her school strike on August 20, 2018. In the following instance, photos taken by Thorslund accompany the article written by David Olsson, chief operating officer of We Don’t Have Time, This 15-year-old Girl Breaks Swedish Law for the Climate, published August 23, 2018:

“Greta became a climate champion and tried to influence those closest to her. Her father now writes articles and gives lectures on the climate crisis, whereas her mother, a famous Swedish opera singer, has stopped flying. All thanks to Greta.

 

And clearly, she has stepped up her game, influencing the national conversation on the climate crisis—two weeks before the election. We Don’t Have Time reported on Greta’s strike on its first day and in less than 24 hours our Facebook posts and tweets received over twenty thousand likes, shares and comments. It didn’t take long for national media to catch on. As of the first week of the strike, at least six major daily newspapers, as well as Swedish and Danish national TV, [1] have interviewed Greta. Two Swedish party leaders have stopped by to talk to her as well.” [Emphasis added]

The article continues:

“Is there something big going on here? This one kid immediately got twenty supporters who now sit next to her. This one kid created numerous news stories in national newspapers and on TV. This one kid has received thousands of messages of love and support on social media…. Movements by young people, such as Jaime Margolin’s #ThisIsZeroHour that #WeDontHaveTime interviewed earlier, speaks with a much needed urgency that grown-ups should pay attention to…” [Emphasis in original]

Yes – there was, and still is, something going on.

It’s called marketing and branding.

“Yesterday I sat completely by myself, today there is one other here too. There are none [that] I know.” — Greta Thunberg, August 21, 2018,  Nyheter newspaper, Sweden [Translation via Google]

The “one kid immediately got twenty supporters” – from a Swedish network for sustainable business. What is going on – is the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the Green New Deal and all climate-related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite. This is necessary in order to unlock the trillions of dollars in funding by way of massive public demand.

These agreements and policies include carbon capture and storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and a host of other “solutions” that are hostile to an already devastated planet. What is going on – is a rebooting of a stagnant capitalist economy, that needs new markets – new growth – in order to save itself. What is being created is a  mechanism to unlock approximately 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure. What is going on is the creation of, and investment in, perhaps the biggest behavioural change experiment yet attempted, global in scale. And what are the deciding factors in what behaviours global society should adhere to? And more importantly, who decides? This is a rhetorical question, as we know full well the answer: the same Western white male saviours and the capitalist economic system they have implemented globally that has been the cause of our planetary ecological nightmare. This crisis continues unabated as they appoint themselves (yet again) as the saviours for all humanity – a recurring problem for centuries.

Source: WWF

+++

“Our goal is to become at least 100 million users. It is an eighth of all who have climbed on social media. Only last month we managed to reach 18 million social media accounts according to a media survey that Meltwater news made for us. At Facebook, we are currently seven times the number of followers among the world’s all climate organizations. We are growing with 10,000 new global followers per day on Facebook.” — Ingmar Rentzhog interview with Miljö & Utveckling, October 15, 2018

We Don’t Have Time identifies itself as a movement and tech start-up that is  currently developing “the world’s largest social network for climate action”. The “movement” component was launched on April 22, 2018. The web platform is still in the progress of being built, but is to launch on April 22, 2019 (coinciding with Earth Day). “Through our platform, millions of members will unite to put pressure on leaders, politicians and corporations to act for the climate.” The start-up’s goal to rapidly achieve 100 million users has thus far attracted 435 investors (74.52% of the company’s shares) via the web platform FundedByMe.

The start-up intends to offer partnerships, digital advertising and services related to climate change, sustainability and the growing green, circular economy to “a large audience of engaged consumers and ambassadors.”

We Don’t Have Time is mainly active in three markets: social media, digital advertising and carbon offsets. [“In the US alone estimated market for carbon offsetting amount to over 82 billion USD of which voluntary carbon offset represents 191 million USD. The market is expected to increase in the future, in 2019 estimated 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions to be associated with any kind of cost for offsetting.”] As the company is a niche organization, social networks are able to provide services tailored to platform users. The start-up has identified such an opportunity by offering its users the ability to purchase carbon offsets through the platform’s own certification. This option applies to both the individual user of the platform, as well as to whole organizations/companies on the platform.

One incentive of many identified in the start-up investment section is that users will be encouraged to “communicate jointly and powerfully with influential actors.” Such influencers are Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin who both have lucrative futures in the branding of “sustainable” industries and products, should they wish to pursue this path in utilizing their present celebrity for personal gain (a hallmark of the “grassroots” NGO movement). [Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

The tech company is banking on creating a massive member base of “conscious users” that will enable “profitable commercial collaborations, for example, advertising”:

“Decision makers – politicians, companies, organizations, states – get a climate rating based on their ability to live up to the users’ initiative. Knowledge and opinion gather in one place and users put pressure on decision makers to drive a faster change.”

 

“The main sources of revenue come from commercial players who have received high climate rating and confidence in the We Don’t Have Times member base.[2] … The revenue model will resemble the social platform of TripAdvisor.com’s business model, which with its 390 million users annually generates over $ 1 billion in good profitabilityWe will work with strategic partners such as Climate Reality leaders, climate organizations, bloggers, influencers and leading experts in the field.”

Video: We Don’t Have Time promotional video, published April 6, 2018 [Running time: 1m:38s]

A “state of conscious and permanent visibility assures the automatic functioning of power.” — Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish

Comparable to other social media endeavors where “likes”, “followers”, and unfathomable amounts of metadata determine financial success, the fact that the business is virtual enables high profit margins. The return on investment, best described as mainstream acquiescence and desirability by way of exposure, will be obtained through future dividends. In anticipation of this projected success, the tech company plans to take its business to the stock exchange in the near future (think Facebook and Instagram.) The most critical component to the success of this start-up (like its predecessors) is achieving a massive member base. Therefore, according to the company, it “will work actively with both enlisting influencers and creating content for various campaigns linked to the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime.”

 

Prospectus We Don't Have Time (pdf)

We Don’t Have Time Business Plan Swedish

 

On April 18, 2018, the crowdfunding platform FundedByMe (utilized by We Don’t Have Time to enlist investors) acquired Ingmar Rentzhog’s Laika Consulting. Excerpts from the press release are as follows:

“FundedByMe today announced that they acquire 100% of the shares in the established financial company Laika Consulting AB, a leading communications agency in financial communications. As a result, the company doubles its investment network to close to 250,000 members, making it the largest in the Nordic region. The acquisition is a strategic step to further strengthen FundedByMe’s range of financial services…

 

[Ingmar Rentzhog] will continue to work on strategic client projects for FundedByMe and Laika Consulting in part-time. Moreover he takes a role in the company’s board. The majority of his time he will focus on climate change through the newly established company, “We Don’t Have Time”, as a CEO and founder.” [Emphasis added] [Source] [3]

 

We Don’t Have Time Software App: The Latest Wave of Western & Corporate Ideology at Your Fingertips

 In October 2016, Netflix aired the third season of Black Mirror, “a Twilight Zoneesque anthology TV series about technological anxieties and possible futures.” The first episode “Nosedive” posits a shallow and hypocritical populace in which “social platforms, self-curation and validation-seeking” have become the underpinning of a future society. [Black Mirror’s third season opens with a vicious take on social media]. The disturbing episode shares parallels to the concept behind We Don’t Have Time. The difference being instead of rating people exclusively, we will be rating brands, products, corporations and everything else climate related.

Acquisition International Magazine Issue 10, 2018 

The not unintended results will be tenfold. The corporations with the best advertising executives and largest budgets will be the winners. Greenwashing will become an unprecedented method of advertising as will the art of “storytelling” (no one ever said a story has to be true). Small or local businesses with little financial means will more than often be the losers. Especially hit, will be migrant entrepreneurs whose cultures differ from ours in the West – where “Western democracy” is the only democracy that is valid.

Adding to the conversation as to who is ultimately benefiting from this endeavor from a cultural, social, geographical and ethnic perspective is the fact that “subconscious biases about race or gender, is a proven problem on many crowdsourced platforms.” [Source] Ultimately, this means that in order to acquire the needed support as a multimedia platform, the self-interest of the Western world must be at the fore with no concern for the Global South – other than what we can continue to steal from her.  The inconvenient truth is that all roads lead to the same collective (if even subconscious)  goal: the preservation of whiteness.

Rentzhog assures his audience that “our core, though, will remain, namely to empower our users to put pressure on world leaders so that they move faster towards an emission-free world and environmentally sustainable solutions and policies.” [Acquisition International Magazine Issue 10, 2018]

An “emission-free world” sounds enticing – yet there are no plans whatsoever to retract our growth economies. “Environmentally sustainable solutions” … according to who? According to a tribal elder who upholds the principles of “the seventh generation” (the Indigenous belief that humans must properly provide for its descendants by ensuring that our actions in the present allow the Earthly survival of seven succeeding generations – not to be confused with Unilever’s Seventh Generation acquisition) – or according to the World Bank? (We all know the answer to this rhetorical question.)

Another inconvenient truth, regarding the above premise, is that there is growing pressure on governments to increase Federal research and development funding to develop and deploy “deep decarbonization” technologies as one of the primary “solutions” to climate change. This was proposed at the Paris Climate Accord with Bill Gates’ “Mission Innovation” initiative which committed to doubling government investment in energy technology.

“We want it to cost more, in terms of revenue, public support and reputation, to not work on lowering emissions and improve environmental sustainability, whereas those that lead the way should be recognized for this. Our vision is to create a race towards environmental sustainability and CO2 neutrality, making it the core priority for businesses, politicians and organizations worldwide.” — Acquisition International Magazine Issue 10, 2018 

Here again, we must look closely at language and framing. Who are “those that lead the way”? Are they referring to Western citizens who can fit all their belongings in a duffle bag? [Here it must be said that the environmental heroes in the West are NOT the Richard Bransons or Leonardo DiCaprios of the world. The real heroes for the environment, due to their almost non-existent environmental footprint, are  the homeless – despite the scorn they receive from society as a whole.] Are they referring to the African Maasai who, to this day, literally leave no trace? Or are “those that lead the way” Unilever and Ikea (represented on the We Don’t Have Time board)? This is another rhetorical question we all know the answer to. Notice the mention of CO2 “neutrality” rather than a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions. Convenient language when one of the main pillars of the business model is the sale of carbon offsets – rationalizing a continuance of the same carbon-based lifestyle by constructing a faux fantasy one, that anyone with monetary wealth, can buy into.

As online reviews and ratings systems have become a Western staple of determining the worthiness of a person, group or corporation,  the internet presently is a primary source of determining the quality of an entity. One example of this type of system is the online site Trip Advisor, which utilizes user feedback as a measuring stick of a hotel, airline, car rental, etc.  As the Trip Advisor rating system is the revenue model We Don’t Have Time seeks to emulate, we will explore this particular rating system.

Whereas a reputable and established website such as Trip Advisor is based on an actual experience – We Don’t Have Time evaluations are more geared toward promises into the future regarding a green technology revolution and/or the effectiveness of advertising in making people believe the veracity of these promises. By utilizing fake accounts (think Twitter and Facebook), strategically orchestrated campaigns will effectively allow the app to break political careers and demonize people and countries based on the numbers of ratings (“climate bombs”). These bombs can be administered against any foe that does not embrace the technologies (sought by the West to benefit the West) of this so-called revolution, regardless if the reason for doing so is justifiable or not.

The word “bomb” itself will become reframed. Rather than associating bombs with militarism (never touched upon by We Don’t Have Time) the word bomb will eventually become first and foremost associated with ratings, bad products, bad ideas and bad people. Such is the power of language and framing when combined with social engineering. Here, the behavioural economics of hatred can be weaponized – a virtual new form of soft power. The Nicaraguan Sandinista government who did not sign onto the Paris Agreement because it is too weak (and serves only Western interests) could quickly become a pariah on the global stage – as the West controls the stage. Already a target for destabilization, the soft power app would be applied as the ruling class sees fit.

When one contemplates the non-profit industrial complex, it must be considered the most powerful army in the world. Employing billions of staff, all inter-connected, today’s campaigns, financed by our ruling oligarchs can become viral in a matter of hours just by the interlocking directorate working together in unity toward a common goal to instil uniform  thoughts and opinions, which gradually create a desired ideology. This is the art of social engineering. Conformity and emotive content as tools of manipulation has been and always will be the most powerful weapons in the Mad Men’s  toolbox. If 300,000 people have already voted with “climate hearts” on a “trending” topic in under 48 hours – it must be a great idea.

“Nobody wants to be bottom of the class.”  Ingmar Retzhog, We Don’t Have Time, December 22, 2017, Nordic Business Insider

To be clear, the West is in no position to “teach” (nudge/engineer) the “correct” value system regarding sustainability to the world, when the biggest polluters on the planet are manufactured into “climate leaders” and “climate heroes”. This is reality turned on its head. A reality we are conditioned to accept. Institutions such as the United Nations in tandem with the media, spoon-feed this insanity (that defies all logic) to the global populace, in servitude to the ruling classes.

“Nudging”: Acquisition International Magazine Issue 10, 2018 

Finally, this behavioral science platform lends itself to the continued devolvement of critical thinking. With virtually everything and everyone to rate all day long – who has time to look in depth at any given policy or product that after all, sounds, looks and feels simply amazing due to sophisticated marketing coupled with behavioural change tactics? It is vital to keep in mind that social engineering – and massive profit – are the key merits and purpose of this application.

 

End Notes:

[1] TV 2 Danmark Danish public service, SVT Swedish public service, TV 4 News, Metro TV, Dagens Nyheter, Aftonbladet (August 20, 2018), Sydsvenskan, Stockholm Direkt, Expressen (August 20, 2018) , ETC, WWF, Effekt Magazin, GöteborgsPosten,Helsingborgs Dagblad, Folkbladet, Uppsala Nya tidning, Vimmerby Tidning, Piteå Tidningen, Borås Tidning, Duggan, VT, NT, Corren, OMNI, WeDontHaveTime CEO viral FaceBook post that mention it first. [Source]

[2] Click-based advertising based on highly rated companies that want to drive traffic to their websites; Targeted web advertising for companies that want to reach out to environmentally aware users in different segments; Business subscriptions where companies and organizations have the opportunity to interact with the members and get the right to use the We Don’t Have Times brand and the company’s rating in their marketing [Source]

[3] “Laika Consulting was one of the first companies in Sweden to work with crowdfunding when we established the brand in 2004. I look forward to follow the company’s growth closely. A combination of Laika’s expertise in listed companies, together with FundedByMe with its international and digital presence, can create new opportunities for growth.”says Laika’s CEO, Ingmar Rentzhog.” [Source]

 

[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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

 

The Green New Deal has an AFL-CIO Problem

January 7, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

Image: SARAH SILBIGER / eyevine

Not only does the #GreenNewDeal have an AFL-CIO problem, it has an International Brotherhood of Boilermakers problem, an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers problem, a SMART Transportation Division (of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers) problem, a United Mine Workers of America problem, a United Steel Workers problem, and a Utility Workers Union of America problem. These labor organisations are a problem for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the climate cartel, the Sunrise Movement, and the Democratic Socialists of America because they are all members of the Carbon Capture Coalition which is supporting bipartisan efforts to expand tax credits for carbon capture from coal, gas, and oil for utilization in enhanced oil projects that result in geological storage of CO2.

The Carbon Capture Coalition was formed from the participants in the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council at AFL-CIO, Brad Markell made this statement at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Legislative Education Action Program (LEAP) 2016 conference:

[Carbon Capture and Storage] is something that those of us who work on energy in Washington are spending a lot of time on. It’s a must-have technology; it’s the way we are going to keep coal plants open in this country. It’s the way we’re going to take advantage of our hundreds of years of coal. [SOURCE]

Cory Channon, the Assistant to the International President and Assistant Director of Construction Sector Operations (Canada) for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers made this statement ahead of last year’s Accelerating CCS Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland:

The Boilermakers can be part of the solution by insuring that, through the expansion and building of CCS plants, we will be there to complete the construction phases, maintain the work on schedule and on budget. This is our responsibility to every person and living thing on our planet. Please share our video and help us spread the word. [SOURCE ]

The video that Channon is championing is called ‘Bridge to a Clean Energy Future’. It’s a production of Boilermaker Videos and features an interview with Ian MacGregor, the Chair and CEO of North West Refining who are leading the development of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line which is designed to transport liquefied CO2 sequestered from tar sands refining to depleted oil fields in the Williston Basin for use in CO2 enhanced oil recovery.

In the video MacGregor gives his opinion on those who believe we can achieve anything like 100% renewables by 2030 saying:

40% of the people believe that we’re going to be off petroleum in 10 years from now. Is that on Mars that they believe that?

MacGregor is only one of many corporate executives and CEOs engaged with labor organisations around CCS and enhanced oil recovery. Here is a list of some of the better known corporations participating in the Carbon Capture Coalition:

Air Liquide, Arch Coal, Linde LLC, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc, NRG Energy, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Peabody Energy, Shell [SOURCE]

Richard Trumka, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations president, addresses members during the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention at Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday, Sept 9, 2013 in Los Angeles. The AFL-CIO plans to open its membership to more non-union groups in an effort to restore the influence of organized labor as traditional union rolls continue to decline. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was very specific about his support for carbon capture and storage in his 2016 address to the Boilermakers Convention.

We know carbon capture, use and storage is necessary to reduce global emissions. The truth is, developing countries around the world are building coal-fired power plants as fast as possible. We can address climate change and be an international energy leader by investing in and developing clean emissions technology. It exists. Let’s make it work for us. [SOURCE]

DNC resolutions

In August 2018 only 2 months after it’s June 2018 resolution to reject fossil fuel industry donations, the DNC voted 30-2 in favour of a resolution submitted by DNC Chair, Tom Perez which specifically mentions “fossil fuel workers” and “carbon capture and storage”.

WHEREAS, these workers, their unions and forward-looking employers are powering  America’s all-of-the-above energy economy and moving us towards a future fueled by clean and low emissions energy technology, from renewables to carbon capture and storage to advanced nuclear technology; and

 

WHEREAS, to support fossil fuel workers in an evolving energy economy, we must commit to securing their right to a strong, viable economic future, which includes maintaining employment and their health care and pension benefits; [SOURCE]

In June 2018, Democrat Party strategist Christine Pelosi, daughter of Congresswoman and newly appointed House speaker Nancy Pelosi submitted a resolution to the DNC calling for a response to the negative effects caused by the burning of fossil fuel and “grassroots” action that resembles the efforts of the Green New Deal allies.  

WHEREAS, we Democrats have the opportunity to reform and revive our party by empowering diverse grassroots Democrats at the leadership table and in our communities including building on our recent successes with small donor fundraising programs;[SOURCE]

Climate cartel connections

On November 12, 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was welcomed into the Congressional Progressive Caucus at the AFL-CIO Washington headquarters along with other new ‘liberal lawmakers’. Representatives of Move On and Indivisible were in attendance.

On December 3, 2018 Cortez joined Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben, Van Jones and others at a ‘town hall’ event organised by the Sanders team. This was the unofficial kick off for the Green New Deal.

Van Jones is a noted author on green jobs, a fellow at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, a member of the US Advisory Council of 350.org, and a former trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council who were participants in the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative for 4 years up until the creation of the Carbon Capture Coalition.

Jones’ connection to Podesta is reason for great concern. Podesta has been instrumental to philanthropic efforts to shape climate activism to suit the ambitions of the fossil fuel  industry. The ClimateWorks Foundation is at the center of a collection of foundations connected through an agenda setting document first published in 2007 called ‘Design to Win: Philanthropy’s role in the fight against global warming’. Indeed this document is the foundation of ClimateWorks’ efforts for the last decade. It lays out the imperatives for philanthropy to instil in the climate justice and environmental organisations that it incubates and funds.

The plain message from the ‘Design to Win’ is that when it comes to climate change, philanthropies should accept the inevitability of the implementation of carbon capture and storage for fossil fuels. In the intervening decade, with the expansive work of granting organisations like ClimateWorks, the global climate justice movement was incubated to be no threat to the left arm of the neoliberal machine (Democrats). Organisations like MoveOn, GetUp, Avaaz, Purpose, and ResPublica (which all share the same co-founders) play a pivotal role in circling climate activists around to the neoliberal agenda. The granting and incubation efforts of the ClimateWorks Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Energy Foundation, Oak Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Sandler Foundation served to help maintain a concession/capitulation position in favor of fossil fuel and biomass based carbon capture and storage. The following passage shows that the underlying assumption for the authors of ‘Design to Win’ was always that coal could not be stopped:

Reduce emissions from unavoidable coal through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Even under the sunniest of scenarios, efficiency gains and expanded use of alternative energy sources won’t displace enough coal in the next two decades to forestall catastrophic climate change, so we must find a way to separate CO2 emissions from coal plants and store them beneath the earth. CCS, which remains in its infancy, deserves a critical push from philanthropy so that it can be rapidly deployed where demand for coal power is the greatest. [SOURCE]

Podesta, as a Clinton Global Initiative insider, and as the leader of a global granting body has been highly influential on the messaging and talking points used by the global climate justice movement. He has on several occasions revealed his leanings in regard to carbon capture and storage. He recently visited with Norwegian CCS promoting NGO, the Bellona Foundation.

ClimateWorks, in telling their own story, leave out the sewn-in concession/capitulation to CCS choosing to emphasize their support for ‘climate philanthropy’.

Committed to seeing these strategies put into action, three foundations — Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight — created ClimateWorks in 2008, with the goal of increasing philanthropic impact on climate change. During our first six years, ClimateWorks made hundreds of grants worldwide, helped build capacity in key regions, and collaborated with a network of partners to support research, policy advocacy, outreach and public engagement, all with the aim of reducing the emissions that cause climate change. [SOURCE]

45Q tax credits

45Q tax credits benefit coal and gas burners who sequester CO2 and pipe it to depleted conventional oil fields for oil drillers who use CO2 miscible flooding to liberate the remnant oil.

The expansion of 45Q tax credits which were first passed into law through the 2008 ‘bail out’ bill was achieved by the passing of the FUTURE Act. The passage of the FUTURE Act and the advancement of the USE IT Act represents the most significant bipartisan achievement of the Trump presidency. They were spearheaded by Democrat Senator for North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp (outgoing) and Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse.

Heitkamp’s press release announcing the successful passage of the FUTURE Act contained the following statement from AFL-CIO’s Brad Markell:

This is a good day for the climate and a good day for American jobs. These provisions will advance the use of technologies that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will create high-paying jobs in the energy, construction and manufacturing sectors. [SOURCE]

Upon the introduction of the USE It Act Republican Senator for Wyoming John Barasso commended the leadership of Democrat senators and acknowledged the bipartisan efforts that brought the bills to their current state.

 In developing both the FUTURE Act and the USE IT Act, senators on both sides of the aisle have found areas of common ground.

 

I appreciate Senator Whitehouse’s leadership as we worked together to develop the USE IT Act. [SOURCE]

When the USE IT Act passed the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Senator Whitehouse made this statement:

Building on the bipartisan cooperation behind the carbon capture and utilization tax credit, this bill can help get carbon removal projects rolling. It signals to utilities that we mean business and points the way for companies in Rhode Island and across the country finding innovative uses for carbon dioxide. [SOURCE]

Senator Heitkamp also underlined the significance of the bipartisan efforts that delivered the FUTURE Act and have helped advance the USE IT Act:

CCUS benefits a wide range of industries, paves a long-term opportunity for North Dakota lignite coal, and supports enhanced oil recovery efforts in the Bakken – all while reducing carbon pollution. Just as we were able to build strong bipartisan support for the FUTURE Act and eventually see it get signed into law, we’re now on the right track with the USE IT Act. Passage in this committee is an important step forward for jobs and economic progress in North Dakota, and an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports American jobs and will help the U.S. become a leader in developing and selling CCUS technologies. [SOURCE]

The Carbon Capture Coalition statement on the FUTURE Act and the USE IT Act also celebrates the strength and “breadth” of bipartisan support for carbon capture and storage.

The bipartisan support for both bills was unprecedented for legislation of its kind, spanning the political spectrum from all regions of the country and underscoring the breadth of support for carbon capture. [SOURCE]

Mike Langford, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO also applauded bipartisan efforts and repeated the call for new CO2 pipelines.

The Utility Workers Union of America applauds the bipartisan work of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in moving the USE IT Act one step closer to becoming law. In seeking to facilitate the build-out of carbon dioxide pipelines and supporting research into carbon dioxide capture and utilization, the USE IT Act promotes cutting edge technology, enabling the creation of entirely new energy systems that will sustain family-supporting jobs and healthy communities for decades to come. [SOURCE]

All the things that wont change

Copper Mines photo(s) Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto EDWARD BURTYNSKY / OTTWP

Exploding oil trains, mountain top removal, poisoned and destroyed aquifers, poisoned rivers, oil spills, gas leaks, exploitation and violence against Indigenous people, and the continued hegemony of fossil fuel loving, consumer-overconsumption-driving global elites will continue if the proponents of the Green New Deal do not address the political will for carbon capture utilization and storage as demonstrated by a large segment of North American industrial labor organizations.

Some people will tell you they don’t think CCS is viable, but it is clearly what the big corporations want. They have convinced the big labor organizations to support their plans with the help of philanthropies who spend money with prejudice to incubate activist groups and NGOs with a built in blind spot for the political will. Activist groups like the Sunrise Movement, and political leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez need to call out those democrats who steered and voted for bipartisan tax credit expansion for fossil fuel energy generation, refining and extraction. If they don’t then the Shangri-La of “100% Renewable” energy will be put even further beyond reach.

Sunrise political director and co-founder, Evan Weber

What we are seeing in the collaboration of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Sunrise Movement – almost certainly incubated by the climate cartel – is the exploitation of a political moment to use ‘climate’ as an object of propagandization to carry particular talking points to the public. The non-profit industrial complex with it’s interlocking directorate of behavior change, movement incubation, and networked governance agencies built this opportunity to propagandize reformist measures to tackle impossible goals while framing out the well funded and impending reality that fossil fools will do everything, absolutely everything they need to do to get their way.

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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