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Richard North, 07/07/2014  


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With no fanfare at all, the European Commission has slipped out the 2013 figures for its Financial Transparency System, a searchable database of grant funding to third parties, including NGOs.

The database is a goldmine of information, telling us, for instance, that the EU paid the BBC €6,100,987 last year, Friends of the Earth (in all its incarnations) €4,188,230, WWF €5,344,641 and the RSPB €3,802,544. What is also of very great interest is that the EU subsidised UN institutions to the tune of nearly €140 million.

All this and much will be the subject of further reporting and analysis, but once again it brings to light the huge amount of taxpayer funding going to unaccountable NGOs, and especially (but not exclusively) climate change advocacy groups. 

In 2013, though, there is a new entrant to the listings – one which has not appeared before on the EU list of recipients. This is the World Resources Institute (WRI), which has been given €1,500,000 of our money for "designing the 2015 global climate change agreement".

What is especially interesting about this is that the WRI is a United States organisation, established in 1982 under Delaware tax laws, with its head office in Washington DC. But, despite a considerable amount of its activity being devoted to lobbying the US government, it has a huge international dimension, receiving most of its multi-million income from governments, their agencies and from multi-national corporations.

Of its $51,595,932 income for 2013, in addition to the EU finding, it gets $8,600,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, $4,918,421 from the Agency for Development Cooperation of Norway, $4,890,000 from the US Agency for International Development, $2,987,337 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, $2,041,263 from the Federal Ministry for the Environment of Germany and $2,000,000 from the Agency for Development and Cooperation of Switzerland.

We also see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway donating $488,188, the Agency for International Cooperation of Germany giving $372,455, the Development Agency of France giving $262,160, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland offering $514,155 and the US Department of Energy $375,000.

Not to be left out, we also see the UK's aid ministry, DFID give $2,041,246 to WRI, adding to our contribution via the EU, while the FCO tops up the funding with another $240,351. Including our contribution via the EU, that brings the UK total to about €2.5 million.

Interestingly, Big Oil is right in there as well, with the Shell Foundation contributing $1,000,000, topped up by the Shell Oil Company USA with another $350,000. Other corporates are represented, with the United Technologies Corporation giving $300,000, FedEx, $850,000, KPMG East Africa Limited giving $865,390, McKinsey & Company, Inc, $270,000 and Goldman Sachs $250,000.

But illustrating the incestuous relationship between the NGO "community", we see several of the "usual suspects" on the list. The European Climate Foundation turns up with $879,317, the ClimateWorks Foundation with $533,842, the Energy Foundation with $330,000, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC with $325,000, Climate and Development Knowledge Network with $251,911, the Climate and Land Use Alliance with $497,941 and Water Conservation International $249,697.

Of global agencies, the United Nations Environment Programme is also represented, contributing $542,990. The World Bank gives $366,076. Charities are also represented, with the Robertson Foundation giving $500,000 and the Rockefeller Foundation $326,000.

Altogether, the top 43 donors – governments, corporates, charities and NGOS, contribute $43,688,366, amounting to 85 percent of the 2013 revenue.

The question is, of course, is why these bodies, with so many governments involved, are giving money to a private US charity, for activities which include preparing the ground for an inter-governmental agreement in 2015, fronted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat.

Accountable to no-one but the US tax authorities, established under Delaware state law, this "charity" should have no role whatsoever in framing agreements between governments the nature of which potentially cost taxpayers billions, the beneficiaries of which are charities of this nature.

In particular, our government and the EU have no business funding such organisations, their very existence representing the darker side of globalisation, where our collective fates are increasingly determined by such unaccountable, faceless bodies, exerting more power and influence than even governments themselves.

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