Friday, January 20, 2023

Barry Brill: For billionaires, climate lobbying is hot

There was once a time when climate change was about science. No longer.

It is now about money and politics. Not just some of it. All of it.

The peak event of the worldwide money-politics intersection is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The 2023 “Global Risks” meeting is being held this week – with a dominant theme (again) being the campaign to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

Like COP meetings, the Davos meeting is the very epitome of hypocrisy.

More than a thousand private jet aeroplanes serviced last year’s meeting. As Greenpeace says: “The rich and powerful flock to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors”.

Private jet flights are by far the most emissions-intensive mode of transport per passenger-kilometre yet invented. Every Davos flight averaged CO2 emissions equivalent to those produced by about 350,000 average cars for a week.

53% of these private flights were for short-haul trips of less than 466 miles, while 38% were under 311 miles, according to the report. The French government has already banned short-haul commercial flights where “green alternatives ” are available and New Zealand may soon follow suit.

There will now be a week of fine dining: air-flown filet, frenched cutlets, truffle ice cream, the very best cheeses. Despite this, Davos Man will continue to staunchly advocate veganism – and eating proteins from insects - to “save the planet”.

Oxfam tracked the investments of 125 billionaires finding that they average 393 Mt of CO2 every year, which is equivalent to the whole of France and “makes the average billionaire’s annual emissions a million times higher than a person in the poorest 90% of the world’s population”.

The only rational conclusion to be drawn from from all this cognitive dissonance is that these wealthy people do not really believe a word of what they constantly preach about climate change.

They demand pain and sacrifice rules “for thee but not for me”. They say one thing and do another. As the old cliche has it: their actions speak louder than words.

So, they must have some other underlying objective. But what is it?

Money, money, money, money….

On Tuesday, US climate czar John Kerry told the Davos gathering that the WEF Climate Strategy was modelled on the global Covid vaccine rollout, and needed a lot more money:
“So, how do we get there? Well, the lesson I’ve learned in the last years and I learned it as secretary [of State] and I’ve learned it since, reinforced in spades, is: money, money, money, money, money, money, money. And I’m sorry to say that.”
Kerry is not touting ‘green’ investments. He is talking to philanthropists about philanthropy:
“We have to do it on a massive basis and the key to that one is philanthropy…. I mean yes technology, yes exciting new initiatives, yes organising winning races politically…but we have to go further.”
Go further than organising winning races politically? What on earth could the WEF have in mind?

An urge to be a super-hero?

In this week’s Newsweek, an Austrian economics professor contends that “Climate Activism Isn't About the Planet. It's About the Boredom of the Bourgeoisie”. The opening paragraph reads:
“The downfall of capitalism will not come from the uprising of an impoverished working class but from the sabotage of a bored upper class. This was the view of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter believed that at some point in the future, an educated elite would have nothing left to struggle for and will instead start to struggle against the very system that they themselves live in.”
The op-ed argues that the green movement is not a reflection of planetary crisis but, rather, a crisis of meaning for the affluent.

The favourite fantasy of the Western upper class is that the end of the world is imminent and can only be averted if we fundamentally change the way we live. But “we” does not include the seriously wealthy. No. Their heroic role is to make all this change happen. To be leaders. History will record that it was their vision and grit that ensured the future of the human race.

Prof Schoellhammer says it doesn’t matter to them that every alarmist prediction has proven to be wrong – because facts can be trumped by “morality”. Extreme predictions pander to an ersatz-religion that allows the super-rich to simultaneously enjoy their wealth and lecture the rest of the world from a position of moral superiority.

Inter-generational guilt also plays a role. The Newsweek article reveals that the unspeakable “Just Stop Oil” group, who throw ketchup over priceless paintings, are on the payroll of Aileen Getty, the granddaughter of legendary oil-tycoon Jean Paul Getty. Who knew?

The Rockefeller Foundation, created from fabled oil wealth[1], has pledged to make the fight against climate change central to all of its work, including all of its many operations and investments.

Is this article persuasive? Could swathes of “the top1%” really be so ego-needy or guilt-infused? Are they virtue-signalling, or promoting/protecting their investments?

Buying alarm and panic

John Kerry is quite open about financing the political campaigns of candidates who support draconian climate policies. No left-wing candidate anywhere in the developed world could get elected in 2023 without first prostrating themselves before the shrine of climate change alarm.

But buying politicians is not enough unless they can get re-elected.

Public opinion has to be bought as well, and that is a long hard grind : the press, the electronic media, government officials, celebrities, pollsters, academics, trade unions, bloggers, social media gatekeepers, teachers, influencers, the entertainment industry, etc – in every region and district in the English-speaking world. It all adds up to serious money.

In the last five years, just three US billionaires (Soros, Bloomberg, Bezos) have funded NGOs to employ at least 30,000 full-time-equivalent climate campaigners. The numbers of NGO employees funded by wealthy individuals and charitable foundations worldwide runs into the millions[2]. @SDGaction, an NGO, boasts that its members accumulated 100 million ‘transformative actions’ and stunts in 2021 alone, and thereby changed the world.

These activists work all day, every day, on lobbying everybody, everywhere, to demand more extreme and extensive climate policies. The planned outcome is to overwhelm and control the public debate – or to ensure that there is no public debate – and to spread cultures and politics of chronic self-deception in respect of all issues that are related to climate change. They have been remarkably successful.

The Newsweek article has this scary disclosure:
“At the "Climate Action Summit" in 2018, two dozen billionaire-backed foundations pledged 4 billion dollars for climate-change lobbying.

Some of them, like the Hewlett Foundation, are directly funding journalists at the Associated Press for "climate reporting," while foundations associated with the Packard and Rockefeller families have been backing the journalistic endeavour "Covering Climate Now," which "collaborates with journalists and newsrooms to produce more informed and urgent climate stories" and is financing hundreds of media outlets.”
Two years after that Summit, Jeff Bezos alone committed $10 billion to fund activists, NGOs and scientists, because he believes (wrongly) that “Earth’s climate was changing faster than predicted by the scientific community five years ago”.

Just imagine how much propaganda will be bought with that ten thousand million dollars!

For years, billionaire Michael Bloomberg has been quietly funding private attorneys to work in public attorneys-general offices in Democratic states.Those privately-funded attorneys take climate cases against oil companies and the like – in the name of the State.

Forbes reports how billionaires Tom Steyer, Hank Paulson and Bloomberg successfully bribed US climate scientists to re-position the most extreme IPCC scenario (RCP8.5) to be mis-characterised as “business as usual”.

Billionaire Larry Fink has diverted trillions of dollars in BlackRock client funds away from companies that haven’t yet promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Big questions

While these few anecdotes have found their way into the press, the bulk of lobbying activity is inherently secretive – sunshine is too effective as a disinfectant. So, I have no doubt that the above examples are merely the tip of the iceberg. They are the well-publicised actions of white American men who are household names (cue Bill Gates, Mark Benioff,) and exclude the other 2,667 billionaires (cue Laureen Jobs) counted by Forbes magazine.

You might think that this barely-imaginable cataract of cash could buy almost anything in this money-conscious world. Can it buy scientific research grants? Access to scientific journals? Resolutions at conferences of public-sector scientists? The sympathetic ear of UN officials? Consensus at Davos?

What would happen if all this billionaire philanthropy was to be withdrawn from politicians, bureaucrats, environmental organisations, newspapers, broadcasters, etc?

Would there be anything left of the climate change emergency? Or would it quietly fade away?


[1] John D Rockefeller, the world’s richest man a century ago, founded Standard Oil (forerunner of both Exxon-Mobil and Caltex) and is seen as the father of the global oil industry.
[2] “Charities” is now the third biggest employment sector in the UK.

Barry Brill OBE JP LL.M(Hons) M.ComLaw is a former MP and Minister of Energy, Petrocorp director, and chair of the Gas Council, Power NZ, ESANZ, and EMCO. He is presently the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.


Owen said...

An excellent and accurate summation.

Robert Arthur said...

All issues gat captured and distorted by commercial groups. They commission research and use this to lobby and achieve law changes which then form the basis for exploitation. We have seen it with meth contamination, asbestos, scaffolding, home heating, insulation, dampness, green waste, plastics and recycling generally, traffic control (cones) etc. An extreme example is electric vehicles. Modest economical internal combustion vehicles designed for long life and this supported by legislation would produce less whole world whole of life CO2 than exotic evs with their very expensive short lived batteries. There is no abundant finance for challenging research and the huge established business spend large to counter. Politicians dare not be seen to moderate requirements for what have been elevated to be perceived as critical issues.

Doug Longmire said...

An excellent article, Barry.
You have lifted the lid on the elite hypocrites who jet around the world and tell us proles to turn our lights out eat no meat and ride bikes.

The ongoing falsehood is especially relevant in New Zealand, where our (ex) P.M. insists we have a "climate emergency", when in fact, NZ's emissions are only 0.17% of total human emissions, which in turn are only 3% of total global emissions (The other 97% is from natural sources)

"Climate Emergency" - Bullsh*t !!

Basil Walker said...

NZ has to engage or allow some discussion on the positive aspects of fossil fuels because the positive aspects have been quashed. Fossil fuels are a uniquely cost efficient , effective source of energy, essential for human flourishing. Low cost energy allows machines to produce food ,shelter, clothing , medical supplies and travel for billions of people. To deny a huge percentage of the world a reasonable life by focusing on an impossible Carbon Zero future is nothing but a deliberate policy of death and misery.

Hoads said...

Todd Muller is now the spokes person for the National Party. He seems to be favouring a party stand that supports the Zero Carbon Bill and the ETS etc.
Why will the Nats not accept the science that shows emissions are not poisonous or having a detrimental affect on our climate?
There needs to be a political will to make a serious change.

Could Barry Brill please help and explain to Todd and others that the high costs of compliance are just a big waste of money. Plus a waste of time and effort. Please help