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McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part X of an Investigative Report] [Targeting Millennials: The 30 Trillion Dollar Jackpot]

The Art of Annihilation

August 6, 2015

Part ten of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Millennials: The 30 Trillion Dollar Jackpot

“[T]here is one particularly desirable audience that’s watching closely: Millennials. This trend-setting, if not free-spending, group of 95 million Americans, born between 1982 and 2004, live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing isn’t just vogue, but mandatory. With nearly a third of the population driving this trend, kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” — Millennials Spur Capitalism With a Conscience, March 27, 2013

Naomi Klein, renowned author and board member of 350.org (one of, if not the most prominent environmental organizations of the problematic mainstream) devotes a large section of her book, This Changes Everything, to the divestment campaign as a legitimate tool in the fight against climate change. This divestment campaign may very well “change everything,” but not in the way Klein states. Rather, it is an extraordinary feat comprised of an army of well-endowed NGOs that has done a masterful job of manipulating the present young students (referred to as “millennials” in the media) and other well-meaning activists into essentially becoming shareholder activists for finance capital – all while believing that they are fighting some sort of radical “good fight.” Of further benefit to Wall Street is that the campaign also ensures these same students/youth will become shareholders of finance capital in the future. It’s a well-played public relations endeavour as well as a pivotal learning exercise in exploitation, social engineering and behaviour modification.

Divestment2

Yet “millennials” are not recognized and sought after by the establishment merely for their rampant consumerism (as 21st century “prosumers”) and narcissism (something inflicted by a devolving society stripped of culture and void of meaning). Nor are they sought after simply for the expansion of human capital. This fact is illustrated in the following Bloomberg article, March 3, 2015: Wall Street Has Its Eyes on Millennials’ $30 Trillion Inheritance:

“It seems the millennials are going to inherit a lot more from their Baby Boomer parents than just some tie-dyes, Steely Dan LPs and Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic books. To the tune of $30 trillion, according to Federated. That is some serious dough! … So it’s no surprise firms seem to have their Flash animators working non-stop to chase this big payday once the Boomers start croaking in earnest.”

Divestment3Divestment1

Images: Federated Investors Inc.: Millennials: The Next Big Thing

Divestment as Symbolism

“Similarly to that movement, fossil fuel divestment has rallied 400 campus campaigns across the country around a symbolic demand. As 350.org’s Jamie Henn explained in his response to the article, the goal ‘isn’t to make a direct economic impact by selling stock, it’s to stigmatize the industry to the point they start losing political power.'” — Why a Movement is Never a Farce, July 10, 2014

The author of the afore-mentioned article (Why a Movement is Never a Farce) cites the divestment campaign as symbolic in the following excerpt: “fossil fuel divestment has rallied 400 campus campaigns across the country around a symbolic demand.” (Emphasis in original) The author then references 350.org’s Jamie Henn’s response that the goal “isn’t to make a direct economic impact by selling stock, it’s to stigmatize the industry to the point they start losing political power.” These statements mirror the general consensus of those within the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), that the divestment campaign has been designed and intended to be merely symbolic since its inception. As many have written, the Keystone XL campaign, was considered to be merely symbolic at its inception. Many journalists, activists, citizens, etc. still retain/accept this notion. However, considering the outcome, one must acknowledge the KXL campaign was not merely symbolic. Rather, in hindsight, the KXL campaign served to be both a strategic diversion and an infallible vehicle for a rail dynasty built by Warren Buffett, who benefited by the economic transition from pipeline to rail in transporting one of the most filthy fuels imaginable. Unbeknownst to most activists was that Buffett, the primary beneficiary of the campaign against the tar sands pipeline, funneled up to $26 million into the movement (2003-2011), and effectively brushed critical thinking under the rug. The question that must be asked is this: why are foundations, elite firms, plutocrats and oligarchs funneling millions of dollars for resources and media coverage into a global divestment campaign – is it more than mere symbolism?

It is tempting to attribute the growing divestment campaign to brilliant public relations, sharp marketing, feel-good greenwashing and nothing more.

For one who understands, even vaguely, the inner workings and functions of the NPIC, a first instinct may be to view the symbolic element of the divestment campaign as no more than another simple discourse along the following lines:

1) We don’t need to change the system or address the underlying values and worldview driving this physical and psychic destruction

2) The global divestment campaign confirms that the “market” can be and is the solution. Thus, it’s actually a strategic discourse, one that allows economic growth to continue unabated while those driving it appear to be looking seriously at climate change.

At least in part, this would seem to be an apt assessment to even a fairly seasoned environmentalist. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, openly admits that the intent of the divestment campaign is merely symbolic in both nature and purpose – stating that its key purpose is only to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry (demonstrating a talking point that has been reverberated down the divestment chain of command). But to conclude that this campaign is purely symbolic is, undoubtedly a grave (and dangerous) lapse in assessment.

In comparison, we must again consider the Keystone XL campaign that preceded the divestment campaign as far as level of importance since it was also often referred to as nothing more than symbolic. Quite the contrary, the KXL campaign was absolutely strategic in allowing Warren Buffett’s rail empire to set up and then flourish – completely unhindered. Further, campaigns such as KXL and fossil fuel divestment serve as captivating smoke and mirrors. Utilizing behavioural change tactics and behavioural economics, such critical discourse effectively stigmatizes any focus on confronting root causes – which is vital for maintaining current power structures. Thus divestment, much more than simply symbolic, must be considered an important part, if not the key element, of a pivotal meme that the establishment (via the NPIC and media) is embedding in the third revolution zeitgeist. This concept/language is part and parcel of the “new economy” marketing dictionary, in tandem with other key words AND memes such as B Corps, Natural Capital, the Biosphere Economy (the Financialization of Nature), etc., etc. Or to paraphrase a popular quote, frame it properly and it will come, with ‘it’ being defined as investment capital. Billions of dollars are being funneled into the NPIC to finance the implantation of such memes into your psyche. The ultimate goal is the further normalization of, and servitude to, corporate dominance while developing, building and nurturing acquiescence for the commodification of the commons.

“If some claimed that Stanford’s move was more symbol than substance, however, that hardly bothered the students. The symbol was part of the point. Divestment, says Peter Kinder, one of the pioneers of socially responsible investment (SRI) and coauthor of the groundbreaking 1984 book Ethical Investing, ‘is about marking the boundaries of acceptable behavior.'” — Dumping Coal Is Easy. But Who Will Divest the Rest?, September 9, 2014

In the September 9, 2014 Audubon article, Dumping Coal Is Easy. But Who Will Divest the Rest?, the author suggests that those embracing divestment invest “in ways ‘consistent with the Buddhist precept of ‘not causing harm.'” Yet the truth is that dumping all investments that contradict living in a way consistent with the Buddhist precept of “not causing harm” requires that we kill the western lifestyle. Not causing harm necessitates dismantling and transitioning from the industrialized capitalist system – completely. But how to tell middle class millennials and prosumers (the divestment campaigns’ target audience) that iPods and Starfucks does not jive with anything that resembles the Buddhist precept of “not causing harm”? Who wants to sell that unpopular (and unprofitable) campaign?

“Fossil Free” Stanford students are now pushing divestment from all carbon-polluting energy sources, but it is doubtful that these same students (the majority white and of privilege) understand that sustainability cannot and will not be achieved within the confines of capitalism … that the system itself is built upon and dependent upon the exploitation of the Earth’s most vulnerable people and the continued obliteration of the planet, its non-negotiable demand of perpetual and exponential growth, interwoven and built upon an industrial machine that cannot be separated from its origins of slavery and fossil fuels.

“And the activists are spreading the word using every social media tool they can find – including the British website pushyourparents.org, which reminds the geezers: ‘Mum and Dad, did you know your pension is f@!#ing up my future?’ Now there is a ‘massive, growing global movement’ that’s looking to ‘divest – and invest,’ to raise $1 trillion a year for new energy efforts: renewables like solar, biofuels, wind, energy-efficiency projects, materials science leaps, restoration projects, new investment portfolios. Huge investment management firms like BlackRock, which is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE Group, and smaller ones like Trillium, Calvert, Aperio, and Green Century are providing alternative, carbon-free ways to invest.” — Dumping Coal Is Easy. But Who Will Divest the Rest?, September 9, 2014

Yet mom and dad’s pensions are not fucking up their future due to fossil fuels alone. The pensions are fucking up their future due to the required growth of the investment – if the stock is to turn out monetary gain. For stocks and other investments to grow, nature’s resources must be converted to capital. It matters little whether they are conventional fossil fuels (the singular asset that makes Exxon-Mobil one of the most profitable corporation in the world), or solar and wind energy investments (products that are also carbon-based/dependent from cradle to grave). Nature’s resources must be voraciously consumed in order for investments to both earn interest and continually (and infinitely) increase in monetary value. Further, biofuels/biomass are perhaps the most egregious forms of energy of all when it comes to this false narrative, while “materials science leaps” will undoubtedly encompass genetically engineered food crops as a solution to our food scarcity issues. Restoration projects, as referred to by forestry, capitalists and the NPIC, are nothing more than ecological degradation carried out under the guise of sustainability: deforestation, loss of wetlands, loss of vital minerals/raw materials, soaring food prices, land grabs and loss of farmland, changing of Earth’s wind patterns and animal migrations, starvation and conflict. All are being implemented under the guise of environmental solutions. Consider BlackRock Investment Management, the biggest funds manager in the world, referred to in the afore-mentioned quote. In 2011, BlackRock founder and CEO Larry Fink stated that both agriculture and water investments would be the best performers over the next 10 years: “Go long agriculture and water and go to the beach…. Put those investments in the bottom drawer for 10 years. It’s unlike anything else we have in the world. Agriculture and water would even beat energy investments.” [Source]

Further indication of the mere “symbolism” of divestment as outlined by Paul Hamill, director of strategy and communications for the center-left American Security Project in Washington, D.C. in the following quote: “What they [divestment activists] want to do is to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere to tackle climate change, and that is spot-on — that’s what we really need to do. But divesting is not the way to do it. It’s almost like a glib PR stunt. It feels nice to go out and campaign, and it feels nice to try and divest from these companies, but it’s not serious.” The article in which Hamill is quoted notes that both Swarthmore College and Wellesley College decided against divestment “after internal audits found the colleges could each lose $15 million per year over the next 10 years under fossil fuel divestment policies:

“Daniel R. Fischel, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, released an industry-financed study last week that found portfolios with energy stocks did better than those without them over a 50-year period by 0.7 percent per year. Total university holdings are estimated at $456 billion, meaning that the projected cost of divestment would top $3.2 billion per year. ‘This strikes us as an excessively high price to pay for something even divestment proponents acknowledge is largely a symbolic act….'”

Based on the statistics above, $3.2 billion in losses per year (even if this figure is inflated due to the report being industry-financed), one may wonder who would assume such divested stocks, and by extension, would also assume a portion of this the $3.2 billion dollars. Whether capitalist or socialist, one must admit that if this report is at all accurate, the mere 0.7 percent that translates into 3.2 billion dollars per year seems far beyond simple symbolism. Regardless, few could argue with Hamill’s accurate observation that “[T]heir success that they’re measuring is whether institutions are divesting, not whether we’re reducing carbon emissions.”

It would be difficult to not notice the aforementioned “Fossil Fuel Free Funds” that are being promoted by universities across the globe. The notion that any investment fund can actually be referred to as “fossil fuel free” is asinine at best. The simple fact that there is not one single industry that does not rely on fossil fuel energy, in one way or another, is lost. This demonstrates a collective failure in the most basic of critical thinking exercises. Students are not only encouraged to dismiss a necessary critique of investment capital outright; they are celebrated for their ignorance and encouraged to promote it. Also lost, due to the encouragement to disregard a critical thinking analysis, is the simple fact that all successful investment is absolutely dependent upon consumption/consumerism and perpetual growth, the very main drivers of the biosphere’s destruction. The obvious end result – that “this changes nothing” – is lost amongst the self-congratulatory accolades.

Of course the corporate takeover of universities in order to further serve the establishment and intensify neoliberalism is well-documented.

Divest & Acquiesce

While the NPIC chimes in on divest-invest in euphoric harmony, nowhere are there calls to divest from “Black Friday,” international travel/flying, luxury vacations, private and company jets, personal automobiles, techo-gadgets, factory farming, the military industrial complex, the eradication/burning of trees for industrial scale biomass, etc., etc., etc. So it’s nothing more than pure spectacle when we claim we are “fighting” fossil fuels without fighting for radical reduction, restriction and rationing of all non-vital consumption in all developed countries.

In the January 14, 2015 Rolling Stone article, The Logic of Divestment: Why We Have to Kiss Off Big Carbon, the author writes that “Exxon Mobil, of course, scoffs at the notion that its ability to profit from its 25 billion barrels of proven reserves is in any way threatened. World governments, it wrote last March, lack the political will to impose the emissions reductions required to stabilize global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius: ‘The policy changes such a scenario would produce are beyond those that societies.?.?.?would be willing to bear, in our estimation.’ Exxon calls this low-carbon scenario ‘highly unlikely’ and neatly deems it unworthy of financial analysis.”

One hates to side with a corporation such as Exxon, yet who could argue with this logic? On this issue, their insights are dead on.

350 and other organizational partners in crime know that Exxon is correct. They are well aware that Western society (specifically, the privileged class being their target audience and core supporter base) would not be willing to accept the necessary policies required to stabilize global temperature rise at 2ºC (even though this is no longer possible without intense geo-engineering since we are already locked in at minimum to 2.4ºC as of 2008). Those in decision-making capacity at the 350.org leadership level and the NPIC as a whole (and Exxon) understand that Western society and its composite countries are not about to give up ANYTHING – let alone live a bare-bones minimalist existence stripped clean of privilege. This is one reason why the mainstream environmental movement sells the divestment campaign (as part of the “new economy”) as a “win” against “the enemy” rather than speak to the necessity of dismantling the industrialized capitalist machine and the power structure that exists and thrives within it – this and its unacknowledged absolute dependence upon said machine, for its very existence, is the primary reason why its goals are “suspiciously” aligned with those who oppress us. Further, a dismantling of the system requires that the populace comprehend how the machine is put together and more importantly, understand the mechanisms in place that protect the current power structures, ensuring they remain intact. Tragically, this required change regarding the system, comprising institutional change at a macro level all the way to personal choices at the micro level, is something of which the Western world and its citizens are wholly unaccepting.

The non-profit industrial complex inculcates its followers into acceptance without invoking the required and necessary critical thinking process. A recent example of such can be found on a 350.org Facebook post (2,153 shares) dated February 13, 2015: “The New York Times just published an editorial explaining why President Obama’s final call on Keystone XL should be so straightforward. If you need any more proof that the climate movement is winning as we take to the streets today on Global Divestment Day, look no further than the pages of the world’s biggest newspaper.” Yet consider the reality. Obama’s statement from 2012: “Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some. So we are drilling all over the place – right now.” Today, in 2015, U.S. crude oil production has neared all-time highs and is poised to set a record. The U.S. produced 3.2 billion barrels of crude oil last year, according to EIA figures, a 30-year high. In 2013, the U.S. produced 2.7 billion barrels, up from 2 billion a decade ago. [Source]

“The climate movement is winning”?

In Rockefeller (and, in this case, both Warren Buffett and the New York Times) we trust.

The truth is that attempts to curb the desire (international vacations/flying), want (bottled water, unlimited meat consumption) or ill-described need (iPhones, etc.) in America would be one of the few (and probably only) things to incite the American populace to take to the streets, burning buildings and the stringing up of beaten politicians to the myriad of street lights.

As outlined by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the foremost organization regarding the global influence of fossil fuels, in its publication Resources to Reserves 2013, which forecasts the availability of oil and gas for future generations, the author of the aforementioned Rolling Stone article writes the following: “In June, the IEA released an independent analysis projecting that carbon curbs strong enough to meet the 2 degrees Celsius threshold could leave nearly $300 billion in stranded fossil-fuel investments by 2035.” Yet, at the same time, the International Energy Agency projects that fossil fuels will provide 75-80% of the world’s energy for several decades to come. [Fossil fuels currently meet 80% of global energy demand. Even if current policy commitments and pledges made by countries to tackle climate change and other energy-related challenges were to be put in place, global energy demand in 2035 is projected to rise by 40% – with fossil fuels still contributing 75%.”[Source] [Further note that we have already exceeded a 2ºC threshold in committed global warming.]

In the same Rolling Stone article, Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, which is helping to promote and assist other foundations in the facile divestment plan, is quoted as saying: “‘If you own fossil fuels, you own climate change… and it’s not just owning their environmental impacts. You own their political impacts too’ – from the PR campaigns challenging climate science to the direct lobbying by oil companies of federal, state and municipal governments to block emissions limits. ‘You’re helping to build their war chest.'”

But the truth is that the 1% creating the global GHG emissions, which is the same 1% that hold shares in any investment, are the very ones that own climate change, whose high-consumption lifestyles continue to exacerbate the problem, regardless of whether they directly divest from fossil fuel stocks or not. What Dorsey deliberately omits is that environmental and political impacts from fossil fuel investments remain the same regardless of who owns them and that without dismantling an economic system to which most all people are enslaved, our efforts are futile. Dorsey speaks of owning political impacts, yet no one holds the NPIC accountable for their strategic campaign that neutralized and blocked radical emissions cuts and targets at COP15 in Copenhagen, which by all accounts should be considered a crime against humanity.

The truth is that the divestment campaign itself is the very thing “helping to build their war chest.” In the war chest we find “sustainable capitalism” by 2020, commodifying the Earth’s commons, privatization, and expansion of corporate power. Under the chest we find the requiem “The song remains the same,” with the affluent “Left” negatively impacting the environment with just as much fervour as the “Right” they criticize. Consider that the US, which represents a mere 4.45% of the world’s population, is responsible for a minimum of 27% of all global emissions, while simultaneously consuming approximately 24% of the world’s energy. Further take into account that each American consumer, the very target audience of the NPIC, requires “132,000 pounds of oil, sand, grain, iron ore, coal and wood” to maintain their current lifestyle each year. That adds up to “an eye-popping 362 pounds a day.” [Source: Juliet Schor, Plentitude, p. 44.]

It’s clear that the Wallace Global Fund is at the helm of Divest-Invest when one observes that it was the Wallace Global Fund that appointed the CEO of Phoenix Global Impact to project manage the Divest-Invest Philanthropy initiative as of March 2014. Simultaneously, Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, sits on all committees and working groups: 1) The steering committee, 2) Energy and Equity Working Group, 3) Organizing Working Group, and 4) the Investment Working Group. The Wallace Global Fund 990 filing reveals that their largest investment portfolio is that of Blood and Gore’s Generation Investment ($18,431,931.00), including Generation IM Credit Feeder Fund II L.P. (Private Fund, Cayman Islands) promoted by Generation Investment, see the following graphics:

Wallace Global Fund II 990

Wallace Global Fund II 2 990

All Eyes on Fossil Fuel Investments | All Eyes Off Militarism

Within the interlocking directorate of the non-profit industrial complex, it is of interest to note that Dorsey (Greenpeace Fund Board Member) is founder of the Human Rights and Environment Program of Amnesty International, having served as chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA. Amnesty, a vapid weapon in the destabilization of sovereign states (Venezuela, Libya, Eritrea, etc.) on behalf of NATO states, is silent on the devastating climate impacts and environmental devastation of militarism, which can in part be attributed to Amnesty International (and other NGOs) as they stoke the provocation of wars and conflicts. (Indeed, NGOs PLAY a critical ROLE in building public acquiescence for wars). [Further reading: A Tear for Africa: Humanitarian Abduction and Reduction] Remix: “If you entice and provoke destabilization campaigns, you own climate change… and it’s not just owning their environmental impacts. You own their political impacts (and the subsequent death toll) too – from the PR campaigns created to build acquiescence for the most egregious acts of violence, to the demonization campaigns, you’re helping to build their war chest, militarism being the most oil-exhaustive assault on the planet. Not fossil fuel investments, but militarism.”

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McKibben and 350.org would have you believe that it’s the fossil fuel corporations alone that are to blame: “The fossil-fuel industry is systematically undermining the planet’s physical systems…. We have met the enemy and they [sic] is Shell.” [Source] McKibben continues that “they [fossil fuel corporations] relentlessly search for more hydrocarbons” without mention of the capitalist consumption and growth fetish that drives the fossil fuel corporations to satisfy its economic demand for the most abundant and easily accessible resources available – a vicious circle if there ever was one. Of course, one cannot place blame on consumers (who are both willing participants and also victims) without highlighting the industrialized capitalist system that ensures all citizens are enslaved. Yet, even though this is the case, there is no mention of the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist system by any members of the establishment, green environmental or otherwise. McKibben et al want to believe that if you change the “bad” products in the vicious circle – to “eco” products – via “sustainable investments” (which are just as dependent on infinite growth), the capitalist system will become, by default, compassionate and caring. Authors such as Stephanie MacMillan refer to this consumer trend as “lifestyleism”. Lifestyleism correlates with one’s own social class. It could be defined as the focus on changing one’s own behaviours within the present system, with the belief that if everyone followed suit, not only would society as a whole improve, but perhaps “immoral” capitalism could be reformed from within. Such illusions are lucrative for advertising firms and NGOs that prey upon hyper-individualism, identity politics, and behavioral change tactics (which target middle to upper income classes*) to not only create new financial markets, but also to protect the current power structures. Yet failure to confront the power of capital actually strengthens it. This is where firms such as Purpose Inc. come in; masquerading further corporate capture and market share as radical change. (*This is clearly apparent in the divestment campaign in which the vast majority of its participants are predominantly white and of privilege.)

“Taking a moral stand might be a starting point, but if morality doesn’t rise to an understanding of the system, it not only fails to change capitalist society – it helps reinforce it.” — The Dead End of Moral Individualism, April 14, 2015

In 2011 and 2012, the Wallace Global Fund invested a substantial initial sum of grant money in groups that would effectively lead the divestment campaign by targeting college students and campuses. Recipients included the Sierra Club Student Coalition ($180,000), the Hip Hop Caucus ($40,000), As You Sow ($160,000) and 350.org ($205,000). For decades, foundations (and the elites and corporate entities that funnel money into the foundations) have recouped their investments in (more accurately, exploitation of) enthusiastic, gullible and compliant students (albeit absolutely well-intentioned) who are effectively trained to focus on what is considered politically realistic (and “appropriate”, as defined by the state and NPIC) within the confines of the existing system. Students who challenge NGO doctrine with critical and radical analysis are ignored, marginalized, and treated as negative and/or divisive, while those who fall in line are recognized as positive “leaders.” These behavioural change tactics subtly and effectively crush most critical thinking.

“Mass organizations under this system (such as collaborationist unions and NGOs) are usually dominated by institutionalized bureaucracies whose very functions are, first: to make money, and second: to pacify the masses by diverting their discontent into compromises with capital.” — Stephanie McMillan, Capitalism Must Die!

Consider the article Fossil Fuel Divestment’s True Aim? To Remake Capitalism (February 20, 2015) and how it was highlighted/shared via social media by a 350.org staff (Canadian tar sands organizer and “divestment activist”). From the article:

“For young climate activists like Soron and Hemingway, such analyses overlook the divestment movement’s broader aim: which is to remake the value structure of capitalism. No less than the Swiss financial giant UBS thinks such efforts should not be ignored. ‘Many of those engaged in [divestment] are the consumers, voters and leaders of the next several decades….'”

The same article was “re-tweeted” by 350.org’s main twitter account, 350.org Toronto and Divest SFU (Simon Fraser University), see below:

Remaking Capitalism Tweet Remaking Capitalism Tweet 2

The Fossil Free Indexes

The Fossil Free Indexes represent another important component of the “socially responsible investments” movement.

The Fossil Free Indexes “community” is comprised of 350.org – The Fossil Free Campaign [1], As You Sow, Ceres [2], Green America [3], Divest Invest [4] and Carbon Tracker Initiative. [“Carbon Tracker aligns the capital markets with the climate change policy agenda to make carbon investment risk relevant available today. They apply their thinking on carbon budgets and stranded assets across geographies and assets classes to inform investor thinking and the regulation of capital markets. Their research ranking public fossil fuel companies by the carbon content of their reserves includes: Unburnable Carbon: Are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?, Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets, and Carbon Avoidance? Accounting for the Emissions Hidden in Reserves.”][Source]

“‘If world governments put a cap on carbon, you would see that bubble burst and that would throw the world economy into disarray,’ she [Danielle Fugere, As You Sow’s president] said. Instead, the plan of As You Sow and other investors is to ensure ‘the bubble is going to be let out slowly in a way that nobody loses all their money.'” — Huge: Exxon Will Advise Investors on Carbon Bubble Exposure, March 23, 2014

The Board of Directors of As You Sow, an investment group dedicated to funding carbon-free and clean energy sources, is comprised of people with vast experience in business, investing and raising capital, like most boards of directors in the organizations behind the divestment campaign. Although most boast members with decades of vast experience in socially responsible investing, which is always quantified as incredibly successful (From the As You Sow Board of Directors profile page regarding Thomas Van Dyck, Chairman and Secratary: “Joining Piper Jaffray in 1997, he developed an investment management consulting team, now called the SRI Wealth Management Group, which moved to RBC Wealth Management in 2006, and is now one of the largest sustainable wealth management practices in North America”), Earth’s accelerating ecologic degradation conveys a different story. To further illustrate the murky relationship between these clean energy investment firms and the entities that underwrite them, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP, and Southern Company are listed among As You Sow’s “shareholder engagements.”

The Divest Invest resources on Fossil Free Indexes website include links to Cere’s Investor Network on Climate Risk [“the INCR is a network of 100 institutional investors representing more than $11 trillion in assets seizing the opportunities resulting from climate change and other sustainability challenges”] and the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change – the more recent, international in scope, Ceres coalition that is formed by the four regional climate change investor groups (also created by Ceres): the IIGCC (Europe), INCR (North America), IGCC (Australia & New Zealand) and AIGCC (Asia).

Also listed as a resource is the Responsible Endowments Coalition, which focuses on building the campaign within colleges and universities and which co-sponsored the Tellus Institute report with the Sustainable Endowments Institute and 350.org.

And while there is no actual definition of what constitutes “the new energy economy,” on the Fossil Free Indexes website, there are many leaders/executives with Wall Street backgrounds to be found.

Carbon Bubble Discourse

“This week has seen a new green meme emerge: the idea that investment in high-carbon companies is creating a ‘carbon bubble’ that could leave the world exposed to another financial crash.” – Why a high-carbon investment bubble could be the lesser of evils, July 15, 2011

Liberal “Guardian-esque” journalism touches lightly upon the fact that the market (i.e., fossil fuel corporations) easily dismiss the risk of “unburnable carbon” simply because “the world shows no sign of taking the two-degrees target seriously.” Where the journalism does not tread is on the very real fact that it is not “the world” that shows no sign of taking the two-degrees “target” seriously; it is the 1-3% of the world’s population that are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions who clearly show no signs of taking any limits seriously. This is the true hard math that remains excluded from discussion. Just a glimpse at the disturbing and vile “Black Friday[5] phenomenon, which is expanding around the globe, provides much clarity on the message: “We want more.”

The ferocious production of fossil fuels is only made possible by the consumption that drives it. The consumption does not take place within a vacuum. Thus, the “real enemy” (as constructed by Bill McKibben in this excerpt from his Rolling Stone article: “Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization.”) [6] is not the fossil fuel corporations per se. Rather, the real enemy is fervent mass consumption by a tiny minority of the world’s population. And although the industrialized capitalist system demands nothing less than this, the united call to dismantle the suicidal global capitalist economic system is nowhere to be heard. Instead, solutions are framed under reformist language and ideology such as B Corporations, Natural Capital, New Economy, Divestment, Compassionate Capitalism, Social Capitalism, Natural Capitalism, The Biosphere Economy, etc. It is worth repeating the assertion put forward in Blood and Gore’s Generation Investment report: “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.”

Similarly, 350.org board member and author Naomi Klein (referenced by McKibben on July 19, 2012) tells us that “lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices. But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It’s what they do.” Like the eco-amnesia that strikes Klein each time she criticizes “Big Green” without mention of Rockefeller’s incubator project 1Sky, which morphed into 350.org in 2011, Klein cites the very real terrible wages and sweatshops, without ever asking her ardent supporters (predominantly white, privileged, middle-class who identify with Klein and her lifestyle) to give up their iPhones, cars, flights … or anything else for that matter. Rather the answer is “comprehensive policies and programs that make low-carbon choices easy and convenient for everyone” and “growing the caring economy, shrinking the careless one.” Not surprisingly, this very blueprint and ideology is the foundation for the 21st century corporate “Who Cares Wins” pathology, whereby “kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” The intent behind this pathology (made famous by TckTckTck founder/creator David Jones, former CEO of Havas), is the corporate capture of “millennials” by way of manipulation via branding, advertising and social media.

In 2009, Havas (one of the world’s largest global communications groups) and the United Nations partnered with 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace and Oxfam (in partnership with many of the world’s most powerful and destructive corporations) in order to establish credibility for the TckTckTck campaign that dominated COP15. The “demand” was a “fair and ambitious agreement” and a 2ºC target. The “agreement” we were given was the long pre-determined deadly “target” of 2ºC, with the NGOs having succeeded in undermining and making invisible the world’s most vulnerable states who demanded that the global temperature increase not exceed 1ºC. Leading up to the Paris climate change talks, the same NGOs will attempt to create legitimacy for policies that “change everything.” Our oligarchs can hardly wait to deliver on our demands: the financialization of nature, environmental markets, carbon capture and storage, biomass, and a score of other false solutions already well under way.

 

Next: Part XI 

 

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

 

EndNotes:

[1] “Based on the analysis in Unburnable Carbon, the Fossil Free Campaign is seeking to persuade the world’s college endowments, city and state pension funds, church investment managers and non-profits to divest from the 200 largest public coal, oil and gas companies in the world, ranked by the size of their proven carbon reserves, starting in the United States but already active on three continents.”

[2] “Ceres advocates for sustainability leadership, mobilizing a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.”

[3] “Green America’s mission is to harness economic power – the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace-to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Green America has a long-standing program on clean energy and climate change that uses diverse strategies to promote the development of renewable energy and to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Green America provides resources for individuals and institutions to divest from fossil fuel companies.”

[4] “Divest/Invest is foundations and individuals divesting from fossil fuels and switching to clean energy investments, joining college, health, pension funds and religious endowments doing the same. Ethically our investments shouldn’t contribute to dangerous climate change. Financially, fossil fuel stocks are over-valued as most of their reserves cannot be burned. We can get good, safe returns while helping to build a new energy system.”

[5] “What is Black Friday? Black Friday was a day where slaves traders in America held open market for slaves sales. Whenever a shipment of slaves came in, and there were hardly any disease or deaths amongst them (men, women and children), they call it a ‘Black Friday’ to celebrate the fortune they will make. However, if a shipment came in and there were mostly sick people, the traders call it a ‘Red Friday’, because of the bad outcome and ‘red’ because they would have to kill all the sick and weak slaves (because no one wanted to spend money feeding or treating those men, women and children).” [Source]

[6] Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is…. But what all these climate numbers make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization. “‘Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices,’ says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. ‘But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It’s what they do.'” [July 19, 2012: Source]


McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part IX of an Investigative Report] [Mainstreaming Sustainable Capitalism]

The Art of Annihilation

April 30, 2015

Part nine of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

 

Al Gore and David Blood

Blood & Gore Generation: of Commodification, Privatization, and Indoctrination

“Between 2008 and 2011 the company had raised profits of nearly $218 million from institutions and wealthy investors. By 2008 Gore was able to put $35 million into hedge funds and private partnerships through the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto company founded by his Canadian billionaire buddy Jeffrey Skoll, the first president of eBay Inc.” — Forbes, November 3, 2013

 

“Civil society has a central role in accelerating the transition towards Sustainable Capitalism. NGOs must take a 360-degree approach to the process of mainstreaming Sustainable Capitalism, realising their ability to influence stakeholders in every part of the business ecosystem. NGOs must engage with investors, companies, regulators and policy makers to encourage the rapid and effective adoption of Sustainable Capitalism through campaigns, lobbying efforts and partnerships with the private sector.” — Sustainable Investment Paper, Generation, February 15, 2012

For an accurate grasp of the true objective behind a national/international marketing campaign (the Keystone Pipeline campaign is another fine example), one is wise to bypass the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) in its entirety and go directly to researching the investment firms and corporations who are set to increase market share and reap billions in profits via such campaigns. Campaigns funded by foundations (set up by the oligarchs) serve and protect the system with well-oiled precision. Billions of dollars funnelled into the NPIC laundering machine, on which corporations would be taxed otherwise, have never been such a sound and secure investment.

Perhaps the most telling and revealing of the world the NPIC wishes us to embrace is the investment firm recommended by 350.org et al: Generation. [PDF: A Complete Guide to Reinvestment] Under the section “What types of reinvestment exist?, Mutual Funds,” the top two examples listed (four in total) are 1) Generation Investment Management Climate Solutions Fund II and 2) Generation Investment Management Credit Fund.

“We are advocates for Sustainable Capitalism…. The first, which is our principal platform for activity, is a partnership model whereby we collaborate with individuals, organizations, and institutions in our effort to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable form of capitalism. In addition, the Foundation also supports select grant-giving related to the field of Sustainable Capitalism, engagement with the local communities where we operate, and an employee gift-matching program.” — Generation Foundation

Generation is an independent, private, owner-managed partnership with offices in London and New York. The firm was co-founded in 2004 by Al Gore and David Blood. From 1985 to 1999, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. From 1999 to 2003, Blood served as a Co-Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Blood served as a director of Goldman Sachs International. Blood sits on many boards including his director position held at NewForests (“establishes US presence in May 2007 to capitalise on growing investment interest in environmental markets in the US”). Its investment strategies focus on forests, timberland, and environmental markets; “NewForests have a limited number of private accounts clients to develop particular project and policy expertise in reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in other countries.” (REDD and Biomass). Blood also holds a position as director of The Nature Conservancy, the revolving door for Goldman Sachs executives. [Blood’s full bio].

Mark Ferguson, Peter Harris, Peter Knight and Colin Mark Le Duc are also co-founders of Generation Investment. Both Ferguson and Harris held prestigious positions at Sachs. Al Gore is Co-Founder, Chairman, and Partner of The Climate Solutions Fund of which Marc Le Duk is also a co-founder.

Generation is largely an institutional investment management firm, operating at the wholesale level (major pension funds, foundations, etc). The corporatocracy and covertness behind such investing is apparent when one considers the fact that law restricts the amount of information that firms (that focus on institutional clients) can provide, to “ensure that the general public is not enticed into investing in unsuitable and overly complex products”. [1]

“Mainstreaming Sustainable Capitalism by *2020 will require independent, collaborative and voluntary action by companies, investors, government and civil society, which we hope to accelerate by advancing the discourse on the economic benefits of sustainability.” — Sustainable Investment Paper, Generation, February 15, 2012

[*David Blood: “…we say in our paper 2020, the truth is we have a view that it really needs to happen by 2015 – otherwise we are increasingly in trouble.” Breakthrough Capitalism Forum lecture, May 29, 2012]

A key area of focus is to ensure the capitalist system is kept intact; to establish the acceptable parameters of the “market revolution.” In particular, in concise language, Blood and Gore make it exceptionally clear that alternatives to the suicidal capitalist system need not, should not and will not be considered:

“Capitalism has great strengths and is fundamentally superior to any other system for organising economic activity. It is more efficient in allocating resources and in matching supply and demand. It is demonstrably effective in wealth creation. It is more congruent with higher levels of freedom and self-governance than any other system. It unlocks a higher fraction of the human potential with ubiquitous, organic incentives that reward hard work, ingenuity, and innovation. These strengths are why it is at the foundation of every successful economy.

 

“Critically, capitalism has proven itself to be adaptable and flexible enough to fit the specific needs of particular countries. Capitalism comes in many forms, from that practised in the US to the very different model that has been adopted within communist China. The causes and consequences of these variations are, of course, significant – 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.” [Emphasis added] [Source]

Generation Investment is acknowledged for its contribution in the May 2013 41-page document Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing in collaboration with Phil Aroneanu and Jamie Henn of 350.org, Bob Massie of the New Economics Institute and others interconnected within this campaign. The sponsors listed are 350.org, Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC), Sustainable Endowments Institute and Tellus Institute. [2]

“By Year Five of the simulation, the portfolio has become fossil free and its five-percent targeted reinvestment has been allocated, across a variety of asset classes, as shown in Figure 4. Half of the target (2.5 percent of the entire portfolio) can be re-allocated to sustainable, fossil-free domestic and international public equities, through existing strategies with investment managers such as Generation Investment Management, Impax Asset Management, Portfolio 21, and Trillium Asset Management, among others.” — Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing

Video: Ceres lecture featuring Bill McKibben with David Blood:

https://vimeo.com/66321774

Generation’s key action is “to accelerate mainstreaming Sustainable Capitalism.” Insight into the coming corporate capture / commodification of the commons via the global implementation of “payments for ecosystem services” (PES) is made clear under the Current Initiatives section where it is stated: “Until there are policies that establish a fair price for widely understood externalities, academics and financial professionals should strive to quantify the impact of stranded assets and analyze the subsequent implications for assessing investment opportunities.” [Emphasis added.]

The top three sectors of focus for Generation are key to how the 21st century is being shaped: 1) Agricultural and Forestry Solutions (think genetic engineering, biomass burning, land grabs, and commodification of forests/REDD 2); Behaviour Change (think Avaaz/Purpose); 3) Bio-based Fuels, Plastics and Chemicals. (See all key sectors of focus that have been publicly disclosed.) (Note that 350.org et al are now publicly campaigning on/promoting the false solution of biofuels.)

Three such partnerships (publicly disclosed) include World Resources Institute, Natural Resource Defense Council (both represented on the Ceres board of directors), and The Climate Reality Project (formerly identified as Alliance for Climate Protection). Under Memberships and Initiatives, we find Ceres, the Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and many others.

“We provide business-building expertise, access to Generation’s investment, corporate, NGO and sustainability networks and a long term strategic perspective and commitment to our portfolio companies.” [Source]

And the icing on the cake:

“Five percent of the profitability of the firm is allocated to The Generation Foundation, which will support global non-profit sustainability initiatives.”

Gore and Blood identify five key imperatives that “have the potential to accelerate the transition to Sustainable Capitalism”. The first imperative identified is the need to identify and incorporate risks from stranded assets.

Enter Carbon Tracker.

Carbon Tracker

carbon-tracker-presentation-anthony-hobley-at-sitra-helsinki-21-may-2014-10-638

Ruse: noun 1. an action intended to mislead, deceive, or trick; stratagem

Utilizing research from the Potsdam Institute [3], Carbon Tracker made the case for “unburnable carbon” in the July 2011 seminal report “Unburnable Carbon: are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?” The report suggested that the top 100 coal and 100 oil-and-gas companies had a combined value in 2011 of $7.42 trillion, much of it based on reserves that can never be used. Such reserves are one example considered by Tracker that have the potential to become stranded assets – thereby exposing investors to risk. The tracker employs (and supplies) the so-called “carbon budget” as a measure (and apparatus) as to how much more carbon the world can continue to “safely” burn.

“The concept of ‘stranded assets‘ gained prominence last year when another report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative calculated that 60-80% of the world’s coal, oil, and gas reserves would be ‘unburnable’ if the world leaders agreed to emissions reductions to limit warming to 2°C…. In essence, any price on carbon or emissions reduction policy could cut oil demand enough to strand any number of a company’s proven reserves.” — Desmog Blog, September 13, 2014

Carbon Tracker’s second “unburnable carbon” report (Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets (PDF) is co-authored with LSE’s (London School of Economics) Grantham Research Institute. The Institute has been financed/supported in part by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) through a grant for US$2.16 million (£1.35 million) to fund several research project areas from 2012 to 2014. LSE’s Grantham Research Institute membership includes (but is not limited to) Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund; Vikram Singh Mehta, chairman of Shell Companies (India); Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF (US); and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, chairman of EL Rothschild Ltd.

The aim of the Grantham Research Institute is to strengthen the analytical and empirical underpinnings of the ‘green growth’ concept in relation to both developing and developed countries.” [Source] [GGGI Partners] Yvo de Boer is the Director-General of GGGI [People]. Prior to joining the global accountancy firm KPMG in 2010, Mr. de Boer led the international process to respond to climate change in the role of Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2006 to 2010.

Carbon Tracker could very much be considered the key stratagem, foundation, glue and more importantly, a veil or even a shield for both the divestment campaign (global in scale), and the so-called carbon “budget.” Reports, data and papers released by this foundation-financed think tank are pumped through the channels of power, the result being the legitimization of concepts that have no basis in reality if it were not for the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with media, ensuring no one states – or even notices – the obvious, that the emperor has no clothes.

“A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or ‘hopelessly stupid.’ The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspects the assertion is true, but continues the procession.” [Source]

In this instance, the emperor is the oligarchy as a collective, the ministers are the sycophants that comprise the NPIC, and the townsfolk – not wanting to appear stupid or undeserving.

Reports such as Carbon Tracker’s serve to legitimate, normalize and thus sanction the already capitalist-sanctioned “activism” that deliberately assists in pushing forward particular policies and agendas already conceptualized (years and even decades in advance) by the funders and the elite.

carbon-tracker-presentation-anthony-hobley-at-sitra-helsinki-21-may-2014-3-1024

Consider who finances the work of the Carbon Tracker. “The work of Carbon Tracker has been made possible by the vision and openness to innovation shown by organisations such as the following”: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Tellus Mater Foundation, Generation Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, The European Climate Foundation, The Growald Family Fund, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust ,The Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, The Ashden Trust, Zennstrom Philanthropies, MAVA Foundation, The Velux Foundation, and The Grantham Foundation. After you consider the “who” behind the financing, consider “why” the financing.

Wallace Global Fund refers to its interest in funding Carbon Tracker as Support for a collaboration between climate activists and financial analysts seeking to align the action of world capital markets with the reality of global warming.”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” — John D. Rockefeller

Millions of dollars funnelled through foundations into institutions, who in turn churn out reports, serve a pivotal purpose. Slick reports, marketing and PR build security (and acceptance/acquiescence amongst the populace) for the investment strategies belonging to the endowments (as well as the trustees) of the very foundations such institutions/NGOs are funded by. This is nothing more than polished PR at arm’s length intended/financed to promote said investments – as well as divestments. The appearance of an independent think tank evokes trust in the public realm. The oligarchs know how to manage, shape and modify behavioural change amongst the public. We are a public of rampant consumption and continued devolution, by design. There is little doubt that the billions of dollars the elite have pumped into the NPIC must quantify as one of the best long-term investments they have ever made.

The concepts of carbon budget, stranded assets and carbon asset bubbles have indeed gained traction with many people. This is in part due to the repetitive messaging of familiar language and unthreatening implications (via a massive injection of funding; Rockefeller et al must be pleased), the précis being that a person of privilege and monetary wealth can simply move his/her money from coal or Exxon and re-invest it into “clean” investments such as massive solar projects in deliberately impoverished Africa that will export the energy to those who already have it in Europe, geothermal, biomass projects that burn the remaining Earth’s forests and whole cultures into ashes, or REDD, which commodifies Earth’s forests for the even further expansion of capital. Pick your poison wisely. In less than 30 minutes we have “saved the world” and we still retain our wealth and privilege. Yet in reality, nothing has changed, the system demands continued growth, clean energy demands fossil fuels and vast resources from an already depleted planet, and the world continues to warm. To divest and feel no consequences is far preferred (by the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions) than actual/tangible divesting from vacations (flying), personal automobiles, clothes dryers, steaks, lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers, Starbucks, etc. etc. etc. – including iPhones, iPods, iEverthing, with emphasis on the word “I.”

“The investor effort, called the Carbon Asset Risk (CAR) initiative, is being coordinated by Ceres and the Carbon Tracker initiative, with support from the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change.” — Ceres Press Release, October 24, 2013

The organizations behind the quickly-emerging “new” economy are all very much interwoven, as are the players and key people. James Leaton, Research Director for the Carbon Tracker Initiative (2010 onward), was recently featured at the May 1-2, 2013 Ceres conference with 350.org’s McKibben and Bob Massie (former president and CEO of the New Economy Coalition). Leaton was also featured at the INCR Annual Meeting at the Ceres conference titled The 21st Century Investor: Ceres Blueprint for Sustainable Investing conference which took place April 30, 2013.

Carbon Tracker is identified as one of the key NGOs engaged with the US Divest-Invest Coordinating Committee (USCC). The combination of a need to be both an environmentalist and a capitalist (definitely not in that order) in the organization is represented in the following job posting:

As You Sow job description, February 13, 2015: “Organizations in the Coalition: 350.org, Responsible Endowments Coalition, Intentional Endowments Network, Hip-Hop Caucus, Energy Action Coalition, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Black Mesa Water Coalition, Carbon Tracker, California Student Sustainability Coalition, Divest-Invest Philanthropy, Divest-Invest Individual, Fenton Communications, Mayors Innovation Project, Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), New Economy Coalition, GreenFaith, Healthcare without Harm, Sustainable Initiatives at Partners HealthCare, As You Sow, or other organizations engaged with Divest-Invest.”

Key staff at Carbon Tracker demonstrate that a vital prerequisite to being hired/chosen by the Tracker is vast experience in carbon markets.

Prior to his role at Carbon Tracker, Leaton was a sustainability and climate change consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, focusing on the financial sector, advising blue chip clients on risks and “opportunities.” Prior to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Leaton spent five years at WWF as a senior policy advisor, focusing on the links between energy and finance.

“‘Assets are already being written down due to increasing competition between energy sources, air quality standards being introduced to reduce health impacts, and measures to reduce carbon pollution combining to change the energy landscape,’ said James Leaton, Research Director at Carbon Tracker. ‘Avoiding high cost, high carbon projects which are failing to deliver a return on capital will improve shareholder returns.'” — Ceres Press Release, October 24, 2013

Mark Fulton is currently an adviser to the Carbon Tracker Initiative and Senior Fellow at Ceres. He is a recognized economist (of 35 years) and market strategist at leading financial institutions including Citigroup, Salomon Bros and County Natwest. Prior to this role, Fulton was head of research at Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors at Deutsche Bank (from 2007 to 2012). He is currently a member of the Capital Markets Climate Initiative, UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. From 2010 to 2012 he was co-chair of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative Climate Change Working Group. In 2011 and 2012, Fulton served on the technical committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All.

“‘Many of the responses investors have received from the companies thus far acknowledge that there is a legitimate risk issue around carbon reserves, and companies are open to continued engagement from the investor community to determine the scope,’ said Mark Fulton, a member of the Carbon Tracker’s Advisory Board and a Ceres adviser.” — Ceres Press Release, October 24, 2013

Anthony Hobley has been Chief Executive Officer of the Carbon Tracker Initiative since February 2014. Hobley played a key role in helping design the UK’s pilot emissions trading scheme and also in developing key aspects of the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System). Hobley was seconded to Norton Rose Fulbright’s Sydney office between 2010 and 2012 where he was heavily involved in the development of the emerging carbon and clean energy markets in Australia and Asia. He was a key figure behind the creation of the business advocacy group Businesses for a Clean Economy, a coalition of businesses arguing for a price on carbon. Anthony was also behind the creation of the business group Climate Markets & Investment Association where he is the current president. He also sits on the boards of the Verified Carbon Standards Association and on the Advisory Board to the Climate Bonds Initiative. [Source | Full Bio]

The Carbon Tracker advisory board is made up of representatives of carbon market institutions.

The board includes: Nick Robins (co-director of the UNEP Green Finance Enquiry), Lois Guthrie (CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board), Tessa Tennant (founder and board member, Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia – ASrIA), Ben Caldecott (programme director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford) Catherine Howarth (CEO at ShareAction), James Stacey (head of sustainable finance strategy at Earth Capital Partners), Jemma Green (previously VP of sustainable finance at JP Morgan), Meg Brown (previously director of climate and sustainability research at Citi Investment Research), Stanislas Dupré (founder & director at 2° Investing Initiative), Bevis Longstreth (previously commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Laura Sandys (member of parliament for South Thanet), Mark Lewis (senior sustainability analyst and co-ordinator of energy transition & climate change research at Kepler Cheuvreux), and Neil Morisetti (director of strategy at UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy Department, previously special representative for climate change at the UK Foreign Secretary.)

Ben Caldecott’s elite standing in the interlocking directorate is extensive. Identified as a British environmentalist, economist, and commentator, he serves on the advisory board of Carbon Tracker, and as a trustee of the Green Alliance think tank. He serves as head of government advisory for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, director of the Stranded Assets Programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, adviser to The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit, academic visitor at the Bank of England, and visiting fellow at the University of Sydney. He is head of European Policy at Climate Change Capital, directing the CCC think tank and advising CCC funds and clients on the development of policy-driven markets. Caldecott has previously worked as research director for environment and energy at the think tank Policy Exchange. Caldecott serves on the advisory network of the Natural Capital Declaration, which is key (discussed at length further in this report). Caldecott has worked in parliament and for a number of different UK government departments and international organisations, including UNEP and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Caldecott has been instrumental in building government support for “clean coal.” Thus, UK leaders are all calling for an end to unabated coal – code for carbon capture and sequestration/storage.

Ben C

Above: Business Summit on Climate Leadership 2011 Speakers. Ben Caldecott – Head of European Policy, Climate Change Capital, second in from far right (Flickr, Climate Group)

Carbon capture and sequestration (CSS) and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) (which uses the sequestered CO2 to recover more oil out of depleted oil fields) is a critical component of the “new economy.” CCS is to gain acceptance as a vital component of the new “low carbon” economy where societies can continue production/burning of both coal and oil under the guise of “emissions reduction measures.” In tandem with the quiet proliferation of biomass (supported by the NPIC) and other false solutions, this economy has already begun:

“In the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada – where CO2 from the Dakota Gasification Company’s coal gasification plant in Beulah, ND is piped north to pump into the oil field, buying 25 more years of oil production – 2.8 times more CO2 would be released from all of the extra oil they expect to produce than the amount they ‘sequester’ (ignoring reports of leakage). In the Permian Basin (TX/NM), 47% of the amount of CO2 pumped into the ground is re-released by burning the extra oil produced (that would otherwise stay in the ground).” [Source]

Stephen Tindale, former executive director of Greenpeace UK, is another “environmentalist” in support of carbon capture and storage. In a series on his website Climate Answers , the commentary CCS: What the EU Needs to Do – Part 1, with Nick Horler, chief executive of ScottishPower, is supported by Caldecott. Both Tindale and Caldecott have contributed significant language and concepts to the discourse on climate since this 2010 piece. Here we witness just one aspect of the many realms of genius behind the marketing/branding of the instrumental stranded/bubble/budget language that has “changed everything.” Coal in particular, has been identified and condemned by both the media and NPIC as a coming stranded asset. Thus coal is “saved” from stranded status when CCS is deployed; the “carbon bubble” refrains from bursting; and the amount of “unburnable carbon” in the “carbon budget” reduced.

As with all the shaping of our shared futures by the elite, the pathway to CCS is clear in the 2008 Green Alliance paper, A Last Chance for Coal, with contributions from Ben Caldecott while at the Policy Exchange think tank. The paper notes that it is critical Europe’s commitment to CCS be realized before 2020; 12 short years away from the paper’s publication date. The year 2020 is a critical date of vast significance – a recurring deadline for all environmental market solutions to be in place.

While the front figures in the “movement” such as 350’s Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein repeat and inflate the language of stranded assets, carbon bubbles, budgets, divestment and renewable energy, the issue of CCS is rarely mentioned or touched upon, while the most critical issue that has ever faced humanity, the financialization of nature, via the global implementation of “payments for ecosystem services,” receives no attention whatsoever. It’s not that these appointed “leaders” don’t understand the “this changes everything” world that the oligarchs have been working toward for decades. They do. Consider that Caldecott, as a key figure in the delivering/marketing of mainstream finance to “clean energy” partnered with 350.org for the 2014 “Stranded Down Under Tour” in Australia.

“It appears to us that divestment is the bait and engagement is the fishing rod – divestment is vital in hooking people’s attention, and the engagement tools and analysis is [sic] essential to reel the capex [capital expenditures] in. Investors and NGOs now need to have the patience to catch enough fish.” — Carbon Tracker Website

Most, if not all organizations and investment firms promoting or affiliated with the divestment campaign have vested interests in the expansion of false solutions such as CCS, biomass, carbon credits/trading and environmental markets – all clamouring to cash in on the promise of the most unparalleled wealth opportunity of the 21st century.

The Investor Expectations: Oil and Gas Companies was developed by the IIGCC with support from Ceres’ INCR, IGCC and AIGCC. It builds on the Carbon Asset Risk (CAR) Initiative, through which 75 investors managing more than $3 trillion in assets engaged with 45 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. The CAR initiative is coordinated by Ceres and Carbon Tracker, with support from IIGCC and IGCC, which lead engagement with fossil fuel companies in Europe and Australia/New Zealand respectively.

The Carbon Asset Risk (CAR) Initiative: “In the long term, investors want to see fossil fuel companies adapt, remaining successful by: Focusing on fewer projects at the low end of the cost curve; Returning capital to investors; and Diversifying business toward cleaner, lower-carbon energy sources, including renewables, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage (CCS).”

Divest-Invest

“The transition to a low-carbon economy will be the most significant economic change in history. It will be deeper, more fundamental than the industrial revolution, and faster than the technology revolution. And it’s going to happen in the next five to 10 years…. The leadership of Divest-Invest is important, the leadership at 350.org.” — David Blood, Generation Investment, Divest-Invest Transcript, Fenton Communications, Wallace Global Fund, and Inst. for Policy Studies, September 22, 2014

 

The common definition of a Divest-Invest commitment is a pledge to divest from the top fossil fuel companies within five years and to move those assets into clean energy investments. As the movement has spread, participants have tailored the timing and sequence of commitments to their particular circumstances. The working group has recognized the variety of these circumstances and has designed this process to allow institutions to meet both their fiduciary and moral responsibilities. — Arabella Advisors, Measuring the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement, September 19, 2014

The global divestment campaign targets 200 of the world’s largest publicly traded fossil-fuel corporations: 100 from oil and gas and 100 from coal. These are ranked according to the size of their proven reserves. The Measuring the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement report (September 19, 2014) discloses the following:

“The working group relied upon self-reported data from individual commitments to determine the number and scope of divest-invest pledges. Individuals agreed to a standard pledge, and most completed a brief survey. The standard pledge (available at http://divestinvest.org/individual) states:

  1. I will make no new investments in the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies [as defined by the Carbon Tracker 200].
  2. I will sell my existing assets tied to these oil, gas, and coal investments within three to five years.
  3. I will invest in the new energy economy.

It is critical to note the language and the framing of the divest-invest campaign (which isn’t necessarily the same as divestment at large). To begin, the term “new” (in #3) refers to both the “new economy” and, in this instance, the “new energy economy,” which is strategic. As discussed in 2014 by Avaaz/Purpose Inc. co-founder Jeremy Heimans, the former term “green” (as in “green economy”) is, for all marketing intents and purposes, dead. For clarity, individuals agree to not invest in the top 100 public coal, oil and gas companies listed by the “Carbon Tracker 200.” All other investments appear to be fair game: biofuel/biomass, nuclear, the military-industrial complex/weapons industry, the chemical industry, factory farming, aviation, BNSF, pornography… it’s all up for grabs. One can move their investments from Exxon over to Lockheed Martin & make a killing – both literally and figuratively. Not only is there a plethora of fuel-intensive stock options/investments, those divesting are given a full five years to follow through on their commitment “to meet both their fiduciary and moral responsibilities,” meaning that a corporation/entity can announce their “commitment,” have 350.org greenwash their persona, and then five years later, when staff positions, economic opportunities, etc. have changed, toss it out with the bath water if they wish to do so. Further, it is not enough to simply divest – one must agree, most importantly, to “invest in the new energy economy.” Thus, the idea of starving the corporate stranglehold, even if only in a limited way, is effectively out the window.

Oil services companies, pipeline companies, refiners, holding facility companies, etc. are all fair game for those wishing to divest. Yet the reality is that none of these industries/companies make their big money from shareholders or stock markets. These companies make the bulk of their profits by booking reserves and selling their product directly to market. Further, most of the capital for the shale gas and oil revolution comes from private equity. “Big oil” has not been at the centre of it. Rather, the centre is comprised of smaller independent and private companies. The more one understands the industries and the business, the more one comes to the realization of what a hoax the “divest-invest” campaign actually is.

Divest-Invest Philanthropy

Divest Invest Allies and Advisors

The Divest-Invest NGO is comprised of three pillars: 1) Divest-Invest Philanthropy [4], 2) Divest-Invest Individual and 3) the Divest-Invest Advisors and Allies.

In her role as CEO of Phoenix Global Impact, Jenna Nicholas is consulting with the World Bank on social impact bonds; she is coordinating the Divest-Invest: Philanthropy Initiative, appointed by the Wallace Global Fund as of March 2014. Nicholas is an associate to Calvert Special Equities and sits on the advisory groups of the Impact Hub DC, Nexus Global Youth Summit and High Water Women. [Full Bio]

Allies and advisors of the Divest-Invest campaign are to ensure success: “Advisors and allies keep core campaign staff informed on various financial, business, community and legal trends relevant to the pledge and/or steps for follow-through…. In collaboration with Divest-Invest Philanthropy and many other movement partners and allies, we are accelerating the transition to a sustainable and equitable economy. [Source]

Such groups are popping up everywhere. Whether there are dozens, hundreds or even thousands has yet to be ascertained. But one thing is certain. They have been tactically preparing for the “new economy” windfall.

Consider the 2° Investing Initiative [2°ii], a multi-stakeholder think tank working to align the financial sector with 2°C climate goals: “Our association consists of more than 30 member organizations and 60 individual members, most of whom are serving in financial institutions (banks, asset management, private equity, brokerage, etc.). Some other members are experts from different fields (consulting, accounting, extra-financial analysis, etc.), either researchers (economy, climate economics), or public servants. Two of our members are Members of the European Parliament (former Ministers of Environment in their respective countries).”

Members:

2C Investing Members

Peers and links within this particular interlocking directorate include the Carbon Tracker Initiative (which coined the term “carbon bubble”), Long Finance, Finance Watch, OECD, Climate Change Capital, UNEP-FI (a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and financial institutions), Asset Owners Disclosure Project, Climate Policy Initiative, E3G (Third Generation Environmentalism), CDC Climat, McKinsey Global Institute, Climate Bonds Initiative, BNEF (Bloomberg), GABV (Global Alliance for Banking on Values), BankTrack and The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC is a Ceres initiative).

Over and over again we witness (yet ignore) the interlocking directorate: NGOs, executive board members, advisors, fellows, CEOs, politicians, bankers and media – all working together for the expansion of capital markets. And although the divestment campaign appears fresh out of nowhere, the NGOs assigned to capture the public’s trust, waiting in the wings, did not simply fall from the summer sky. The organizing and deployment is precise, strategic, seductive and global in scale.

As one investigates the history and financing of the divestment campaign, one begins to recognize specific organizations that appear/overlap more frequently than others, for example, Ceres, Ceres entities, United Nations organizations, 350.org and Carbon Tracker. These groups lead in shaping the public opinion and providing the discourse required to implement already conceived/awaiting policies that serve hegemonic interests (expansion of capital markets), while simultaneously securing, strengthening and insulating capitalism itself.

Investment Terminology

In the July 7, 2014 article, Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement is a Farce, the author sheds much needed light on investment terminologies and information that are little understood by the average citizen:

“Notice the words ‘publicly traded.’ In other words, fossil fuel divestment would target only major corporations that are listed on the stock market. But pension funds and endowments, the entities largely targeted by the 350.org campaign, invest hundreds of billions of dollars in privately traded securities, such as hedge funds and private equity – vehicles that are invested at all levels of the fossil fuel economy. (In particular, hedge funds and private equity have been found to be the key financial backers of the fracking boom.) Were the Massachusetts divestment bill to pass, state pension funds would invariably still be invested in the fossil fuel economy.”

The20billioncarbonbubble1

Graphic: Public companies represent a small piece of the pie; $7 trillion in fossil fuel reserves as opposed to private and national companies that represent three times this market size. Source

The cautionary reference to hedge funds is significant. Note that Blood & Gore’s Generation Investment is a hedge fund. Also note the tight relationship between 350.org founder Bill McKibben, hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, the US Democratic Party and the crème de la crème of the establishment Left (to be discussed later in this report). On May 6, 2014 CNN reported that the top 25 hedge fund managers took home $21 billion among them.

The author [Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement is a Farce] continues:

“The divestment campaign argues that 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies dominate the fossil fuel exploration market. But they ignore that such companies frequently depend on private equity and hedge funds for financing new investments when large banks are uninterested in taking on further risk. The public can rarely (if ever) verify that these types of arrangements take place, even if it is a teacher attempting to verify what her pension fund is doing with her money.

 

“The divestment campaign argues that 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies dominate the fossil fuel exploration market. But they ignore that such companies frequently depend on private equity and hedge funds for financing new investments when large banks are uninterested in taking on further risk. The public can rarely (if ever) verify that these types of arrangements take place, even if it is a teacher attempting to verify what her pension fund is doing with her money.

 

“Pension funds and endowments have not always invested in the private market. In the 1980s and before, in fact, they were almost exclusively invested in publicly traded securities. Laws such as the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act of 1940 allowed the public to verify how the companies in which pension funds and endowments were investing used their funds and provided transparency to investors in order to prevent fraudulent activity.

 

“By focusing only on publicly traded securities, the fossil fuel divestment campaign ignores the corporate misdeeds of a sector that holds billions of dollars of investments in a dirty energy economy.

 

“The same is not possible with privately traded alternative investments, which have been on the rise since the early 1990s. (It is difficult to ascertain why exactly pension funds and endowments have funneled assets into private markets, as there is little evidence that they perform any better than stocks and bonds and a great deal of evidence that they are far riskier. Private market money managers are notorious as great salesmen, and a series of pay-to-play scandals have implicated some of the largest hedge funds and private equity firms.) Regardless, today pension funds and endowments are by far the largest investors in hedge funds and private equity.” [Emphasis added]

carbon-tracker-presentation-anthony-hobley-at-sitra-helsinki-21-may-2014-6-1024

Above: Private and institutional investors represent Carbon Tracker’s largest/key target audience.

The author continues, citing conflict of interest:

“Further compromising the campaign is its questionable line of funding. It has received at least $350,000 from Jeremy Grantham, a hedge fund manager who oversees more than $500 million in assets for public pension funds in Massachusetts. According to a report from Inside Philanthropy, 350.org also receives funding from billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer. (The organization declined to state exactly how much money it has received from Steyer and Grantham.)

 

“Farallon Capital Management, which Steyer founded, has major investments at all levels of the fossil fuel economy. While he is no longer at the helm, during his leadership it pursued major deals in fossil fuels, as a recent report from Reuters showed. In fact, the firm had been a target of student activists before he began funding them.

“Grantham, for his part, argued in an interview with The Guardian that he felt that student activists should ‘stamp their feet’ to get their university endowments to divest from fossil fuels ‘because they can do that.’ With his firm’s significant investments in the fossil fuel economy – according to first quarter 2014 filings, $1.2 billion in Chevron, $570 million in ExxonMobil and $240 million in Monsanto – he, apparently, cannot.” [Emphasis added]

Jeremy Grantham apparently encourages others to stamp their feet and divest while his firm, decidedly, does not. He is not alone. Following the media saturation of September 22, 2014 that hailed the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) divestment as a historic world event, few reported that RBF had decided to hang on to their Exxon stocks. [This is discussed at length later in this report.]

Here it is important to recall that Carbon Tracker is affiliated with London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute. Jeremy Grantham co-founded the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment in 1997. Funding was given to both Imperial College London and London School of Economics to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. In 2011, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment donated $1 million to both the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy, and $2 million to the Environmental Defense Fund. The Foundation has also provided support to Greenpeace, the WWF and the Smithsonian. [Source] As noted earlier in this report, London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute membership includes (but is not limited to) Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund; Vikram Singh Mehta, chairman of Shell Companies (India); Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF (US); and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, chairman of EL Rothschild Ltd.

In the July 10, 2014 rebuttal, Why a Movement is Never a Farce, the author frames the divestment campaign as a Gandhi-esque movement. Yet there are items that an astute citizen must consider distinct red flags: “Endorsements have come from such unexpected places as the World Bank, and even former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs’ COO Henry Paulson this past week.” Given the references to Gandhi and endorsements that “have come from such unexpected places as the World Bank,” it is of interest to note that Martin Luther King’s first trip to India to study Gandhi was paid for by the RJ Reynolds (tobacco empire) family (funneled through Quaker group American Friends Service Committee.) In a letter, an AFSC official writes that the trip seems to have been designed as a photo-op to “build up King as a world figure, and to have this buildup recorded in the US.”

The author then writes: “It is a sign of divestment’s power that it has gained endorsements from the likes of Wall Street, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into trusting either Wall Street or the White House to show us the way to a new economy. Accepting endorsement, however, is not the same as taking direction; fossil fuel divestment is a grassroots movement led by students, not billionaires, and is firmly committed to justice and solidarity. I know because myself and countless other students and recent alumni – with the vital support of nonprofits – have poured the last few years of our lives into building it. Call that misdirected, sure, but don’t call it Astroturf.”

Yet it’s not “a sign of divestment’s power that it has gained endorsements from the likes of Wall Street” – the divestment campaign is Wall Street. 350.org (with McKibben at the helm) developed the divestment campaign in consultation with Wall Street. The author is, however, correct that the purpose of the divestment campaign is very much “to show us the way to a new economy.” As 21st century lambs of the oligarch, well-intentioned students are utilized, used and misdirected via tactical manipulation.

Steyer, Bloomberg, Soros & the Democrats

McKibben and Steyer March-7

Photo: People’s Climate March, 2014. Bill McKibben (350.org founder) with Tom Steyer, hedge fund billionaire and founder of Generation Next

“It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.” — George Carlin

An example of so-called progressive media amplifying Carbon Tracker’s disapproval of coal use in China (Carbon Tracker report: “Energy Access: why coal is not the way out of energy poverty”) appears straightforward. As does the slide presentation published October 29, 2014 by Carbon Tracker: Is Coal a Sinking Ship? Yet perhaps it isn’t.

Consider that the demand for coal in both China and India is going to do nothing but grow. Then consider this: In an effort to support its own mines and workers and economy, China is in the process of cutting all purchases of imported coal as rapidly as possible (April 14, 2015: “China’s coal imports decline by 42 percent during first quarter…. The international coal market is saddled with excessive supplies for the moment….”). India, still trying to provide basic power to citizens, is also rejecting further dependence on international coal. On November 12, 2014 the Power and Coal Minister of India, Piyush Goyal, stated “in the next two or three years we should be able to stop imports of thermal coal.” This position has been endorsed by India’s Prime Minister. This certainly puts a damper on U.S. plans to ship an additional 100 million tons of coal per year to Asia via three proposed coal ports – an aggravating deterrent that must also extend to Australia which plans to open mega coal mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, as well as the world’s largest port (at Abbot Point right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef) for export to China. Not only does India have more coal than Australia, India has 57 times more labourers.

A “no coal for China” anthem as sung by the non-profit industrial complex can also be interpreted as de facto promotion of natural gas/fracking, nuclear, etc. Consider the Bloomberg media coverage (referencing Carbon Tracker) in the article covering China moving from coal to gas. As Bloomberg (Bloomberg Philanthropies being a financial backer of Carbon Tracker) has been financing the fracking boom, one might question if there is a coordinated effort between Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who, along with billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation, have launched the Risky Business Project.

From the Risky Business website:

“Launched in October, 2013, the Risky Business Project focuses on quantifying and publicizing the economic risks from the impacts of a changing climate.

 

“Risky Business Project co-chairs Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer tasked the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm that specializes in analyzing disruptive global trends, with an independent assessment of the economic risks posed by a changing climate in the U.S. Rhodium convened a research team co-led by climate scientist Dr. Robert Kopp of Rutgers University and economist Dr. Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley. Rhodium also partnered with Risk Management Solutions (RMS), the world’s largest catastrophe-modeling company for insurance, reinsurance, and investment-management companies around the world. The team’s complete assessment, along with technical appendices, is available at Rhodium’s website, climateprospectus.rhg.com.”

The Risky Business Project is a joint partnership of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Paulson Institute, and TomKat Charitable Trust (established in 2009 with funding from Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor), one of many financiers of 350.org (see image below). Additional support for the project has been provided by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the McKnight Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Foundation. Staff support for the Risky Business Project is provided by Next Generation, also co-founded by Steyer.

350 Funders

Bloomberg Philanthropies also invests in oil and gas via Willet Advisors. Logic dictates that due to its holdings/investments in the gas/fracking industry, Bloomberg will therefore highlight any victories against dirty coal – including faux ones. Thus although the divestment campaign is successful in the stigmatization of coal corporations, the label of corporate pariah does not extend to carbon sequestration schemes, industrial biomass and a score of other false solutions that will comprise the bulk share of the “clean” economy. Rather, such false solutions are grossly labeled as victorious and sought after by the appointed “leaders” of the environmental “movement.” Consider the re-tweet of the article Shell’s Global Warming Strategy Is Psychopathic & Paranoid, Says Former UK Climate Envoy by Bill McKibben in which the gist of the argument is why Shell is dragging their feet on carbon capture and sequestration. Further consider that the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to convert Nevada’s Pinyon Forests to biomass that threatens ancient rituals is backed by partner organizations such as Sierra Club, in partnership with Barrick Gold and Barrick Corp. This is just one instance of biomass facilities planned or already in operation under the guise of “clean” energy and/or carbon neutrality.

Bill McKibben Tweet CCS Shell 2

Steyer must be considered king hedge fund bourgeois extraordinaire with close ties to those in power. Time magazine, May 22, 2014: “So when Barack Obama appeared at Tom Steyer’s San Francisco home for a fundraiser last year, the President had to know there would be an ask. The 56-year-old Steyer is a hedge-fund billionaire and a major-league Democratic donor.”

August 6, 2014, Politico:

Billionaire Tom Steyer joined fellow liberal billionaire George Soros for a lunchtime meeting with Obama adviser John Podesta at the White House on Feb. 20, according to White House visitor logs. That was just days after Steyer pledged to spend $100 million on the midterm elections. Steyer also met with Podesta on March 31, along with NextGen Climate Action COO Josh Fryday and Denver attorney Ted White, managing partner of Fahr LLC, an ‘umbrella entity’ for Steyer’s various organizations.

 

“According to records, Steyer has visited the White House on at least 12 occasions since 2009 for meetings with top-level administration officials including Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Pete Rouse, Heather Zichal, Jon Carson and David Lane. Those records only cover through April, and Steyer is known to have attended a June 25 meeting with Podesta, John Holdren, Valerie Jarrett and others to discuss his ‘Risky Business’ report on climate change.”

Exploiting climate change destruction to garner votes for the Democrats is par for the course within the NPIC; exploiting climate change destruction to further unprecedented “climate wealth opportunities” is not only the best game in town – it’s the best game on the industrialized planet.

 

Next: Part X

 

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

 

EndNotes:

[1] Source: “M. Mills, personal communication, 2010.” In Howell, Robert. “The Challenge of Sustainability for the Financial Sector.” International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability.

[2] The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US) also serves to promote the divestment campaign in the “Education Center” where one finds “Fossil Fuels, Divestment & Reinvestment.” Within this section, under other resources, the link titled Institutional Pathways to Fossil Free Investing brings us back to the May 2013 41-page document Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing [emphasis added].

[3] “Thanks to the Carbon Bubble report, we now have some better numbers to help us grapple with that question. Based on research by the Potsdam Institute, the report suggests that if the world wants an 80% chance of staying within the 2ºC limit, we should avoid emitting more than 565 gigatonnes (GT) of CO2 by 2050. That equates to just one-fifth of the world’s total proven fossil fuel reserves, which contain enough carbon to produce a massive 2,795GT of CO2, the report estimates.”

[4] The DivestInvest Philanthropy steering committee and working group members include: Ellen Dorsey, Ellen Friedman, Richard Woo, Tom VanDyck, Melissa Beck, Jenna Nicholas, Farhad Ebrahimi, Vic de Luca, David Gordon, Florence Miller, Peter Martin, Anne Stetson, Jon Jensen, John Goldstein, Shally Shanker and Ginny Quick.