World Resources Institute

Part IV:’s Friends on Wall Street: The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” – Marketing a Fallacy

By Cory Morningstar

April 23, 2014

[Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here] [Part II | Part III]


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



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

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots groups do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists – who consider themselves progressive – speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources, they also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. The irony comes from the fact that the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). 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 most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex, via foundations, the corporations need not lift a finger; the feat is being carried out by both the legitimate and the faux environmentalists in tandem with an unsuspecting public (a public with almost no comprehension of 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 – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled 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, all corporations on the planet (thus, all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including 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 the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons that is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

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

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


Marketing a Fallacy



It is imperative to understand that the “solutions” being proposed in response to our unparalleled planetary ecological crisis will be only those that have the ability to enhance profits or build brand value, thus increasing revenues/profits. Yet, the fallacy of such “solutions” cannot be understated. The industrialized capitalist system is dependent upon growth. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible – a 5-year-old child can understand this fact because it is simple common sense (i.e., he or she would not wish to keep growing forever). Growth is dependent upon destruction of the natural world and exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people. Violence is inherently built into the system. The idea that a “green economy” under the capitalist system will somehow slow down our accelerating multiple ecological crises and climate change is a delusional fallacy of epic proportion. Ceres allows corporations to continue this delusion and constructs a paradigm that conditions a culture to believe the fallacy.’s Friends on Wall Street – The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” | Part II of an Investigative Report

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)


March 10, 2014

By Cory Morningstar

[Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here.]

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

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

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots organizations do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive, speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources, they also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. The divestment campaign will result (i.e., succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing” (Sustainable Capitalism, February 15, 2012, Generation Investment Management LLP). 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 (aka investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex via their foundations, the corporations need not lift a finger; the feat is being carried out by both the legitimate and the faux environmentalists in tandem with an unsuspecting populace. (A populace with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis, 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, 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 – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled 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, all corporations on the planet (thus, all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including 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 the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’ Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others. Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

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

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

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

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

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

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

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

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



Leadership Circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 Who Cares Wins


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

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

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

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


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


 [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 GreenThe Art of AnnihilationPolitical ContextCounterpunch,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.]



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

1. Protection of the Biosphere

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

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

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

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

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

4. Wise Use of Energy

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

5. Risk Reduction

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

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

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

7. Damage Compensation

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

8. Disclosure

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

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

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

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

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

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability] [2] Ceres Principles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.] [4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”

Taking Strong Action For Capitalist-Led Environmental Destruction

by Michael Barker

July 28th, 2010

Capital is more than happy to enlist the mainstream [environmental] movement as a partner in the management of nature. Big environmental groups offer capital a threefold convenience: as legitimation, reminding the world that the system works; as control over popular dissent, a kind of sponge that sucks up and constrains the ecological anxiety in the general population; and as rationalization, a useful governor to introduce some control and protect the system from its own worst tendencies, while ensuring the orderly flow of profits.

– Joel Kovel, 20021

Global capitalist elites have long been masters of the exploitation of labour to manage sustained destruction of life. With utmost concern for shareholders, the principles of scientific management have been used to shackle workers to corporate priorities to efficiently harvest planet earth. In this way, humane citizens are socialized to accept absurd capitalist growth imperatives as natural, which enables the wealth of human energy to be channelled into the eradication of nature. Moreover, in this world of inverted realities, radical alternatives to this toxic state of affairs are regularly considered to contradict true human nature; so we are told it is natural to submit to arbitrary authority and let a tiny elite profit from the corporate management of life. This, however, does not prevent ordinary people from resisting such brutality. Indeed, throughout history ruling elites have been kept busy devising more effective ways of containing such dissent, and so this article will review some of the most significant elite-driven environmental initiatives that have served such purposes (from the 1960s onwards).

By highlighting the way by which elites, working hand in glove with the United Nations, have sought to manage the environmental terrain to disable radical movements seeking to eradicate capitalism, it is hoped that individual readers will recognize the futility of putting their hope in the hands of such illegitimate environmental managers. Only then, when such false illusions have been shattered, will mass movements driven by radical analyses be able to begin to work to sustain life in a just and equitable fashion.

Ending the Nuclear Threat? And the Birth of a Movement

Environmental historian John McCormick suggests that it “is credible” that the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963) was the first global environmental agreement.2 Yet paradoxically, as peace historians Frances McCrea and Gerald Markle observe, this important agreement marked the point at which “the tide of peace activism began to ebb,” such that “nuclear testing, [now] widely perceived as an environmental and health issue rather than one of disarmament, was now a non-issue.” In fact, the sad reality is that once this pioneering global environmental agreement had been signed “American nuclear testing — conducted underground where the U.S. enjoyed a technological advantage — greatly accelerated.”3 The conservation movement thus ironically celebrates the advent of an environmental agreement that coincided with the weakening of the global peace movement; that is, the single strongest movement that challenging the legitimacy of the largest source of pollution, war.

Following the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, McCormick writes that the “idea of universal threats to the environment” was then “further reinforced” with the publication of Rachel Carson’s classic book Silent Spring (Hamilton, 1963). Here, to his credit, McCormick points out that Murray Bookchin had published his groundbreaking book Our Synthetic Environment six months earlier (to “relative failure”), observing that the key difference between the two books was that Carson’s “concentrated on a single issue” (pesticide overuse), while Bookchin’s “examined a broad range of the incidental effects of modern technology, from air pollution to contaminated milk.”4 Understandably, simple uni-focal environmental issues that failed to implicate all aspects of capitalism’s destruction of the world’s flora and fauna were clearly easier for capitalists to integrate and co-opt than systemic critiques such as those offered by more radical analysts like Bookchin.

With imperial wars ensuring total devastation of land and millions of people, concern for the environment gathered momentum throughout the 1960s, especially within liberal political elite circles. For example, in July 1965…

… Adlai Stevenson (then US ambassador to the United Nations) gave a speech before the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva on the problems of urbanisation throughout the world. In the speech (originally drafted by Barbara Ward), he used the metaphor of the earth as a spaceship on which humanity travelled dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil. (p.80)

Here it is critical to observe that Barbara Ward went on to play a key role in driving the corporate environmental agenda, and before her death in 1981, Ward had served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation-backed Conservation Foundation.

Blame the People!

Something had to be done to save the environment, and as Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman point out in their classic 1970 article “The Eco- Establishment,” the “elite resource planners took as their model for action the vintage 1910 American conservation movement, especially its emphasis on big business cooperation with big government.” The Conservation Foundation was a leading member of the eco-establishment and helped (amongst various other propaganda duties) to prepare the congressional background paper for the 1968 hearings on National Policy on Environmental Quality, a paper that explicitly laid out how elites planned “to pick the pocket of the consumer to pay for the additional costs they will be faced with” as a result of capitalism’s inherent destructiveness. Elite conservation groups and the mass media quickly ensured that population growth, not capitalism, was portrayed as the major threat to life, and in 1968 the Sierra Club (under the guidance of David Brower) published the work of the “unashamed neo-Malthusian” Paul Ehrlich as The Population Bomb, which “became one of the best-selling environmental books of all time.”5

Later, elite environmentalists adopted a faux-holistic approach to aid them in their efforts to manage the environment, which resulted in another widely celebrated neo-Malthusian book, The Limits to Growth (Club of Rome, 1972). McCormick writes how the roots of this book “went back to the late 1940s, when Jay Forrester, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), pioneered the application of the digital computer, tactical military decision making, and information-feedback systems to studies of the interacting forces of social systems.” These ideas were then picked up by Aurelio Peccei, an Italian management consultant and president of Olivetti, who in 1968 “convened a meeting in Rome of a group of 30 economists, scientists, educationalists, and industrialists,” which subsequently became known as the Club of Rome. Under the remit of this elite “Club” Forrester recruited Dennis Meadows who authored The Limits to Growth.6 Club of Rome critics, Robert Golub and Joe Townsend, write:

The arguments of Limits imply the need for an international body to regulate the global economy, but the need for such a body grew out of the intrinsic instability of the world’s economy — as was recognized earlier by many students of the multinational corporation. The growth and spread of multinational corporations in the sixties outstripped the abilities of national governments to regulate and control the global economic system. Given enough foresight one might even have expected that the inability of governments to regulate the world economy in the face of the increasing economic power of the multinational corporations would be most evident in those countries (such as Italy) whose governments, because of their weakness, had the most difficulty in protecting their native capital.7

Priming the Environmental Movement

In 1971 two meetings were held in preparation for the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (otherwise known as the Stockholm Conference), the first in Founex, Switzerland, and the second in Canberra, Australia. The Founex meeting was convened by Maurice Strong, then director-general of the Canadian External Aid Office, who was subsequently “appointed secretary-general of the Stockholm conference, and headed a 27-nation Preparatory Committee set up to make plans for Stockholm and to draw up an agenda.”8 Significantly, in the preparatory meetings “Strong had constantly emphasised the compatibility of development and environmental quality in his preparatory talks with LDC [Less-Developed Counties] governments.” These consensus-making talks ensured that any controversies were aired prior to the main event so that the actual conference could be managed more efficiently: “Differences of opinion remained, but they did not polarise the conference irretrievably.”

Another important tool that helped solidify a political consensus at Stockholm was an “unofficial report that would provide Stockholm delegates with the intellectual and philosophical foundation for their deliberations” that was commissioned by Strong and co-authored by Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos (and then reviewed by a committee of 152 consultants).9 Funding for this report was provided by the Albert Schweitzer Chair at Columbia University, the World Bank, and the Ford Foundation.10 This report was later published as Only One Earth (Norton & Company, 1972) “by a new research institute, the International Institute for Environmental Affairs (IIEA), set up in 1972 under the sponsorship of the Aspen Institute.”11 The IIEA had already played an important role in the pre-conference preparations, and so it is significant that the “philosophical foundations of IIEA lay in the results of a four-month feasibility study conducted in February-May 1970 by the Anderson Foundation.”

IIEA’s cochairman, Robert O. Anderson (chairman of Atlantic Richfield and the seed funder of the Institute), believed that the institute should “steer a steady mid-course between doom and gloom alarmists and those who resist acknowledging the clear danger to which the human environment is being subjected.”12

Anderson was, and still is, a powerful oil executive, with excellent contacts in the broader corporate world, having formerly served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (1961-4) and on the board of directors of other well-known corporate giants like Chase Manhattan Bank, the Columbia Broadcasting System, and Weyerhaeuser Company. In 1974 Anderson was chair of the Rockefeller’s Resources for the Future, sitting alongside fellow board member and fellow oil profiteer Maurice Strong, who served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1971 until 1977.13

The United Capitalists’ Environment Programme

After Stockholm Maurice Strong went on to found and head the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in 1973 “he appointed senior staff from the areas he knew best: business, politics and international public service.” Strong remained as UNEP’s head for nearly three years, after which he was appointed president, chairman, and CEO of Canada’s national oil company, Petro-Canada.14 However, despite UNEP’s corporate approach to organizing, funding “has been a continuing problem,” and during its first eight years the United States was the single largest supporter of their work, contributing some 36 percent of the operating costs.15 Thus one can understand why UNEP, working in coordination with groups like the IUCN (now known as the World Conservation Union), adopted a highly conservative approach to environmental management. Of course funding obtained from liberal foundations helped ensure that already conservative organizations did not stray far from elite agendas. Raymond Dasmann…

… recalls that, at the time he joined IUCN in 1970 as a senior staff ecologist, there had been three changes in the Union: it had new leadership, a new organisational structure, and had been given a major grant from the Ford Foundation. Ford had suggested the need for more centralised control by IUCN headquarters over its activities. … A more significant development noted by Dasmann was the shift in emphasis at IUCN towards a concern for economic development; for example, conservation and development was the theme of the 1972 IUCN General Assembly in Banff, Canada. (p.196)

Three years after UNEP was established, “UNEP asked IUCN to prepare a wildlife conservation strategy,” and Dasmann and Duncan Poore spent the next few years working on drafts of this critical policy document. Lee Talbot, who went on to head the IUCN, “recall[ed] that ‘the first draft was essentially a wildlife textbook’, but that each subsequent draft brought the previously opposing views of developers and conservationists closer together, and that the final draft was a consensus between the two points of view.”16 Then in 1977, with UNEP funding, the IUCN set about preparing a World Conservation Strategy report.17

Published in March 1980 under the principal authorship of Robert Prescott-Allen, the IUCN’s World Conservation Strategy was by the admission of its authors, a compromise which attempted to establish an “accommodation between conservation and development.” On the one hand the authors of the report…

… recognized that conservation and development should be promoted as compatible objectives. On the other, by limiting itself to the conservation of nature and natural resources, the Strategy paid little heed to the fact that the problems faced by the natural environment are part of the broader issues related to the human environment.18

McCormick correctly points out that “The two cannot be divorced.” Yet they were, thus providing a solid ideological base for subsequent pro-capitalist means of managing the environment, which were quickly realised through the work budding “conservation” biologists and by the World Commission on Environment and Development (otherwise known as the Brundtland Commission).

Sustainable Development for Ecological Imperialism

Convened by the United Nations in 1983, and chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Brundtland Commission held its first meeting in 1984, with funding provided by various foreign governments and liberal foundations, including not least the Ford Foundation.19 The secretary-general of the Brundtland Commission (1983-7) and lead author of the Commission’s most famous report, Our Common Future, Jim MacNeill, happened to be the former chair of the International Institute for Sustainable Development — a group whose current president, David Runnallis, had in the 1970s, worked with Barbara Ward to found the International Institute for Environment and Development. Thus it is wholly fitting that Maurice Strong was counted on as an important member of the Brundtland Commission.20

The Brundtland Commission’s report Our Common Future (Oxford University Press, 1987) is perhaps most famous for popularizing the misnomer of sustainable development. On this rhetorical success, Brian Tokar observes:

Merging the language of long-term sustainability from the environmental movement with the “development” discourse of neo-colonialism, sustainable development became a rationale for advocating the continued expansion of capitalist market economies in the global South, while paying lip service to the needs of the environment and the poor.21

Consequently, it should come as little surprise that the Brundtland Commission’s report failed to incorporate an “analysis of the military-industrial complex and its role in industrial development.” Moreover, as Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger point out, the chapter of the Brundtland report on peace and security “leads the Brundtland Commission to propose a military kind of international management of environmental problems and resources, the so-called commons.”22 This militaristic logic was extended in 1989 by then World Resources Institute vice president, Jessica Matthews, whose Malthusian article “Redefining Security” played an important role in “set[ting] the stage for the linking of environment and security.” Incidentally, the elite stronghold, that is the World Resources Institute, also happened to have been commissioned by UNDP (in 1987) to make policy recommendations based on the Brundtland Commission’s conclusions. This advice in turn eventually led to the creation of the World Bank-initiated Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which was initially chaired and then headed by one of World Resources Institute’s senior vice presidents, Mohamed El-Ashry.23 The GEF was of course an integral part of the eco-establishment, and as Zoe Young points out, it has succeeded “divid[ing] activists willing to play along with the US and [World] Bank’s strategic agenda from those who will not; the latter can be dismissed as extreme and unconstructive, while the former’s skills and passion can be channelled through GEF processes to extend the reach of corporate capital and culture.”24 Given such outcomes it should come as no surprise that in 1990 the World Resources Institute “issued a study purporting to show that underdeveloped nations of the global South — especially China, India, and Brazil-pumped as much carbon dioxide into the biosphere as the developed countries of the North.” The evident absurdity of such conclusions was highlighted by Mark Dowie, but despite the reports illogic, Dowie correctly noted how: “As a justification for environmental imperialism, it will surely be used to formulate aid and multinational lending policies for years to come.”25

A Corporate Earth Summit

Such elitist precedents demonstrate the success the eco-establishment has had in effectively seizing control of the mainstream environmental agenda. So, as Chatterjee and Finger suggest, while “[o]verall, the Stockholm Conference was characterized by heavy confrontation between activists of all sorts and governments” (which is itself debatable) this phenomenon was certainly not to be repeated at the Rio Earth Summit (otherwise known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or UNCED). Indeed, they continue that at Rio “the overall climate was one of consensus and cooperation”;26 a result that should hardly be considered surprising given that the secretary-general of the Summit was Maurice Strong. (Strong’s senior advisor at the Earth Summit was former congresswoman and Women’s Environment and Development Organization co-founder Bella Abzug.) Chatterjee and Finger conclude:

Rather than developing a new vision in line with the challenges of global ecology, UNCED… rehabilitated technological progress and other cults of efficiency. Rather than coming up with creative views on global governance, UNCED has rehabilitated the development institutions and organizations as legitimate agents to deal with new global challenges. These include the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN, as well as the national governments and the multinational corporations. And, finally, rather than making the various stakeholders collaborate and collectively learn our way out of the global crisis, UNCED has coopted some, divided and destroyed others, and promoted the ones who had the money to take advantage of this combined public relations and lobbying exercise. (p.173)

Likewise, Michael Goldman writes that:

If we are to learn anything from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio… it is that the objective of the Summit’s major power brokers was not to constrain or restructure capitalist economies and practices to help save the rapidly deteriorating ecological commons, but rather to restructure the commons (e.g. privatize, “develop,” “make more efficient,” valorize, “get the price right”) to accommodate crisis-ridden capitalisms. The effect has not been to stop destructive practices but to normalize and further institutionalize them.27

The business co-option of the Earth Summit had of course been a long time coming. Indeed, the “sustainable” business community had begun organizing in earnest in 1984 following the first World Industry Conference on Environmental Management: a forum that eventually led to the creation of a Business Council for Sustainable Development on the eve of the Earth Summit. Timothy Doyle observes how:

As the 1980s wore on environmental antagonists looked to other less conflictual means of securing their future power. No longer did many business interests across the globe deny the existence of environmental damage caused, in part, to their own malpractices. Their ploy changed: to beat the environmentalists at their own game (but on newly defined terms and agendas); to subvert them, to divide them, to supplant them, to appear to be greener than the green.28

The formation of the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) is particularly interesting as the organizations two cofounders were Maurice Strong and the Swiss billionaire industrialist, Stephan Schmidheiny29 — a friend of Strong’s from his days at the Davos World Economic Forum (which Strong had chaired). According to critics, this group was part of “a strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations as it moved towards enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.” Indeed, as Joshua Karliner observed, one particularly significant outcome from the Earth Summit was the “agile and successful endeavor to virtually silence all discussion among governments about the need for international regulation and control of global corporations in the name of sustainable development.” In this regard, Karliner writes that one “of the first obstacles that the corporate diplomats from the [International Chamber of Commerce] and the BCSD had to overcome was a branch of the United Nations itself — the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations (UNCTC).” Problematically it seems, the United Nations Economic and Social Council had asked the Centre to “prepare a set of recommendations on transnationals and other large industrial enterprises that governments might use when drafting the Earth Summit’s central document,” Agenda 21, which were to be submitted in March 1992. Yet the month before this date, the then UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros Ghali (1992-7)…

… announced that the UNCTC would be eliminated as an independent entity. This move in effect gutted the agency of what little power it might have had. But it still had the report commissioned by ECOSOC to deliver to Maurice Strong and his UNCED Secretariat. Try as it might, however, the UNCTC couldn’t get the Secretariat to accept its report. Meanwhile, Strong had appointed Stephan Schmidheiny as his senior industry advisor. Schmidheiny proceeded to form the BCSD and prepare Changing Course as an official industry submission to UNCED.30

But his was not the only way in which the United Nations had actively served elite interests at the Earth Summit, as they simultaneously acted to subtly co-opt the very nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provided radical criticisms of the entire event. Thus according to Chatterjee and Finger, UNDP spent US$475,000 on sponsoring NGOs in 1990 and 1991, and “then US$206,000 in the final six months up to and including Rio.” And from these funding initiatives “sprang two major drives among the Southern country NGOS,” the Third World Network, and Maximo Kalaw’s Green Forum of the Philippines. Subsequently while the Third World Network “directed [most of their criticisms] against the World Bank, the IMF, GATT, and of course the USA” they “were silent about UNDP.” This was a critical omission on their part given the integral role that the United Nations has played, and continues to fulfil, in legitimizing and promoting neoliberalism. Indeed, the extent of cooperation between UNDP and the Third World Network meant that the latter was even privately briefed “on the key issues that the World Bank could be swayed on.”31

Given the Third World Network’s uncritical stance towards the United Nations, it is fitting that Martin Khor, who formerly led this Network since its inception in 1984, is now a member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy. Moreover as of March 2009, Khor has been the executive director of the South Center — a group whose board of directors was chaired by the former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros Ghali from 2003 until 2006. (Khor had previously served on the South Center’s board of directors from 1996 until 2002.) Incidentally, the current chair of the South Center is the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, who is presently also a trustee of the democracy-manipulating African Wildlife Foundation; while prior to Boutros Boutros Ghali’s chairmanship of the board, Gamani Corea served in this position, which is interesting given that he chaired Maurice Strong’s Founex Panel of experts in 1971 in preparation for the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Returning to Khor’s background, it is also worth adding that he is also a board member of the International Forum on Globalization, a group that has been heavily supported by Ted Turner and Douglas Tompkins’ controversial eco-philanthropy.

From Earth Summit to Earth Mining

When Maurice Strong’s tenure as secretary-general of the Earth Summit ended (in 1992) “he became the chairman of the organizing committee for the Earth Council.” The Council’s mission was to “support and empower people in building a more secure, equitable and sustainable future” and at the invitation of the Costa Rican government their Secretariat was established in San José, Costa Rica, in September 1992. Amongst others sitting alongside Strong on the initial organizing committee for this group was Stephan Schmidheiny.32 Now known as the Earth Council Alliance, their chair is Tommy Short (who is also a council member of Earth Charter International);33 ) while their president, former Imperial Chemical Industries executive, Marcelo Carvalho de Andrade, is the founder and chairperson of Pro-Natura, which “was started in Brazil in 1985 and by 1992 had become one of the very first ‘Southern’ NGOs to be internationalised following the Rio Conference.” Marcelo de Andrade additionally serves as a board member of the controversial group Counterpart International, and on the board of Earth Restoration Corps (which is headed by Maurice Strong’s wife Hanne Strong).

To this day, Strong’s dedication to corporate liberalism remains strong, and in the wake of the Earth Summit he took up the chairmanship of both the World Resources Institute and the Stockholm Environment Institute. Then in 1999, Strong, the former CEO of Petro-Canada, felt it was time to retire from the board of directors of the oil and gas company Cordex Petroleums — a company that had been managed by his son, Fred Strong. That said, despite maintaining his commitment to managing the environment, Strong continues to enjoy harvesting the planet, as he is a board member of Wealth Minerals Ltd — an organization that describes itself as “a well financed and managed leader in uranium exploration focused on identifying world-class discoveries in Argentina.”34


While this article has clearly demonstrated that the global “environmental” management championed by Maurice Strong poses a significant threat to life on planet earth, Strong is by no means the main problem. Instead, Strong is merely a brilliant example of the breed of two-faced technocrats that have arisen to sustain capitalism and protect wildlife (but only where it is deemed profitable). However, by tracking Strong’s stewardship of capitalist interests historically — as this article has done — it is possible to demystify the grotesque global circus that has grown over the years to ostensibly save the environment. Elite institutions like the United Nations must be superseded: something that is unlikely to happen until we collectively start channelling mental resources to describing suitable alternatives: Communism anyone?

  1. Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World (Zed, 2002), p.154. Kovel continues: “Foundations tend to be created by rich people to soften the contradictions of that which enabled the rich to become so in the first place, and are basically no further from capital than the state. Like the state, the foundation is relatively free to express a more universal interest — and some of them are, like religion in Marx’s view, the ‘heart of a heartless world’, and able to support marginal or even radical projects. However, taken all in all, the foundation’s basic function is to rationalize the given society and not to overturn it.” (p.154) [?]
  2. John McCormick, The Global Environmental Movement (Wiley, 1995), p.64. [?]
  3. Frances McCrea and Gerald Markle, Minutes to Midnight: Nuclear Weapons Protest in America (Sage, 1989), p.81-2. [?]
  4. McCormick, p.65, p.67. [?]
  5. McCormick, p.84. As an aside McCormick adds: “Curiously, a remarkably similar book published three years before — The Silent Explosion by Philip Appleman, a professor of English at Indiana University — sold well, but achieved nothing like the impact. Ehrlich made no reference to Appleman’s work.” [?]
  6. McCormick, p.90. Another book, A Blueprint for Survival, which was published in The Ecologist in early 1972, concerned itself with similar themes and was influenced by The Limits to Growth. [?]
  7. Robert Golub and Joe Townsend, “Malthus, multinationals and the Club of Rome,” Social Studies of Science, 7, (1977), p.202. “Our argument is that, during the decade of the sixties, the international economic (and many national financial) systems became increasingly unstable and the systems by which the advanced countries control and dominate the underdeveloped countries were growing more fragile…, at the same time as (and in some cases as a result of) the multinational firms were becoming more significant in the international and national economies. These increasing instabilities and uncertainties made the economic environment more threatening to the multinational firms themselves, and this situation was initially and most strongly perceived by those ’second rank’ multinationals whose governments were too weak to adequately provide the ‘public functions’ listed by Murray. As a result of this, the Forrester and Meadows ’scientific’ studies were commissioned as ‘tools of communication and control’ to operate the ‘transmission pulley’ of public opinion in order to force the governments of the industrialized societies to institute a ‘new world moderator’ (with ’stern rules about voting’) which would have sufficient power to stabilize the international economic situation and ensure a constant supply of raw materials.” (p.216) [?]
  8. McCormick, p.113. [?]
  9. McCormick, p.116-7. [?]
  10. Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos, Only One Earth (Norton & Company, 1972), p.ix.

Ward and Dubos write: “Ambassador Adlai Stevenson clearly had in mind the overpowering influence of man’s role in determining the quality of the environment and therefore of human life when, in his last speech before the Economic and Social Council in Geneva on July 9, 1965, he referred to the earth as a little spaceship on which we travel together, ‘dependent on its vulnerable supplies of earth and soil.’” (p.xvii-iii) Barbara Ward neglects to mention that she drafted the content of this speech. [?]

  1. In 1973, Barbara Ward then became president of the Institute, which was renamed as the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). [?]
  2. McCormick, p.118. [?]
  3. In 1978 Anderson received the inaugural Lindbergh Award, an honor that has since then been graced on most of the world’s leading corporate environmentalists. For instance, in 1979 the award was given to Aurelio Peccei, and then to Maurice Strong in 1981. Eco-baron Ted Turner received the award in 2008, and in 2009 he was followed by Lester Brown. [?]
  4. Maurice Strong served as a vice president of conservative WWF International (1978-81), and a member of the executive council until December 1986, and as a chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN (now known as the World Conservation Union). [?]
  5. McCormick, p.137, p.136. [?]
  6. McCormick, p.196-7. [?]
  7. “The final drafting was guided by Robert Allen (one of the authors of the Blueprint for Survival, and then IUCN head of publications) and David Munro IUCN’s director-general.” McCormick, p.197. It is worth citing the comments of influential environmental manager and former president of both the Club of Rome and of the IUCN, Ashok Khosla. He notes:

“In the late 1970s, I was one of the contributing authors of the World Conservation Strategy, which made extensive use of the word Sustainable Development for, I believe, the first time. It was produced by the World Conservation Union in collaboration with the United Nation Environment Programme and WWF. WCS was liberally sprinkled throughout with the concept of sustainable development. It was launched “simultaneously” in major cities of the world as the sun came up to 10.00 am at each of them, starting with New Delhi on 5 March 1980.

“Later I worked with Brundtland Commission. It adopted this phrase as the central message of its report, and helped to make it globally accepted. From there it became the theme of the 1992 Johannesburg Summit.” [?]

  1. John McCormick, “The origins of the World Conservation Strategy,” Environmental Review: ER, 10 (3), Autumn 1986, p.186. [?]
  2. In 1988 Gro Harlem Brundtland received the annual Third World Prize of $100,000 from the Third World Foundation. Here it is interesting to note that the Third World Foundation was set up by Altaf Gauhar, along with the academic journal, Third World Quarterly, with funding provided by the CIA-connected Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

For a recent critique of the BCCI, see Lucy Komisar, “BCCI’s Double Game: Banking on America, Banking on Jihad,” In: Steven Hiatt (ed), A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007). [?]

  1. During the 1980s both Brundtland and Strong had been board members of Ted Turner’s Better World Society: another influential trustee of this Society was Monkombu Swaminathan, the former IUCN president and World Resources Institute trustee — who served as the chair of the Brundtland Commission’s Advisory Panel of Food Security in spite or perhaps because of his reputation as the “Father of the Green Revolution in India” — who has been described by UNEP as “the Father of Economic Ecology.”

Other notable members of the Brundtland Commission who had already, or went on to represent, corporate conservation outfits include: Istvan Lang (who is now an honorary board member of Green Cross International), and finally the Brazilian ecologist Paulo Nogueira-Neto (who is an emeritus director of Conservation International, and a former executive board member of the IUCN), Saburo Okita (who at the time served on the executive committee of the Club of Rome, and was chairman of World Wildlife Fund Japan), Shridath Ramphal (who is the former co-chair of the Commission on Global Governance, former president of the IUCN, 1990-3, and former chair of the international steering committee of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Leadership in Environmental and Development), former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator William Ruckelshaus (who is the former chair of the World Resources Institute), Mohamed Sahnoun (who is a board member of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a council member of Earth Charter International, and is co-chair of the international advisory board of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect), and Janez Stanovnik (who is a former board member of Resources for the Future). The chair of the Commission’s Advisory Panel on Energy was Enrique Iglesias, who went on to serve as the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and as an honorary member of the Club of Rome. [?]

  1. Brian Tokar, “The World Bank: Biotechnology and the ‘Next Green Revolution’,” In: Brian Tokar (ed), Gene Traders: Biotechnology, World Trade, and the Globalization of Hunger (Toward Freedom, 2004), p.51. [?]
  2. Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger, The Earth Brokers: Power, Politics and World Development (Routledge, 1994), p.25. [?]
  3. Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger, p.152. [?]
  4. Zoe Young, “The Politics of GEF,” (pdf) ECO: The Voice of the NGO Community in the International Environmental Conventions, 15 (7), March 2006. [?]
  5. Mark Dowie, Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press, 1995), p.119. [?]
  6. Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger, p.101. They write: “With the exception of one demonstration in Rio de Janeiro which brought together 50,000 people in downtown streets, most protests drew a few dozen people.” (p.101) [?]
  7. Michael Goldman, “Inventing the Commons: Theories and Practices of the Commons’ Professional,” In: Michael Goldman (ed), Privatizing Nature: Political Struggles for the Global Commons (Pluto Press, 1998), p.23.

In their scathing article published in The Ecologist magazine titled “The Earth Summit Debacle,” they noted how the “best that can be said for the Earth Summit is that is made visible the vested interests standing in the way” of meaningful grassroots action. The Ecologist wrote, that for such grassroots groups “the question is not how the environment should be managed — they have the experience of the past as their guide — but who will manage it and in whose interest. They reject UNCED’s rhetoric of a world where all humanity is united by a common interest in survival, and in which conflicts of race, class, gender and culture are characterised as of secondary importance to humanity’s supposedly common goal.”

Caroline Thomas agrees and in 1993 she noted how: “At the most fundamental level, the causes of environmental degradation have not been addressed, and without this, efforts to tackle the crisis are bound to fail. The crisis is rooted in the process of globalisation under way. Powerful entrenched interests impede progress in understanding the crisis and in addressing it. They marginalise rival interpretations of its origins and thereby block the discovery of possible ways forward … The result is that the crisis is to be tackled by a continuation of the very policies that have largely caused it in the first place.” Cited in David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (Routledge, 1996), p.105. [?]

  1. Timothy Doyle, “Sustainable development and Agenda 21: the secular bible of global free markets and pluralist democracy,” Third World Quarterly, 19 (4), 1998, p.772. Doyle concludes that: “The only force which currently seems capable of moving beyond the boundaries of nation-states in hot pursuit of transnational corporations are social movements and NGOs, also acting through transnational conduits.” (p.785) Doyle evidently is unaware of the extent to which corporate interests have already subverted civil society to serve their antidemocratic neoliberal interests. Here the work of Ellen Meiksins Wood is worth citing at length. She writes:

“The moral force of these movements [organizing against the threat of ‘nuclear
annihilation and ecological disaster’] is unquestionable; but in a sense, the very qualities that give them their particular strength make them resistant to transformation into agents of a fundamental social change, the transition from capitalism to socialism. These movements do not reflect, and are not intended to create, a new collective identity, a new social agency, motivated by a new anti-capitalist interest which dissolves differences of class interest. They are not constituted on the basis of the connections that exist between the capitalist order and the threats to peace and survival. On the contrary, their unity and popular appeal depend upon abstracting the issues of peace or ecology from the prevailing social order and the conflicting social interests that comprise it. The general interests that human beings share simply because they are human must be seen, not as requiring the transformation of the existing social order and class relations, but rather as something detached from the various particular interests in which human beings partake by virtue of belonging to that social order and its system of classes. In other words, such movements have tended to rely on the extent to which they can avoid specifically implicating the capitalist order and its class system.” Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Retreat From Class: A New ‘True’ Socialism (Verso, 1986), p.176. [?]

  1. Stephan Schmidheiny is a former board member of the World Resources Institute, and presently serves as a member of board of overseers of the International Center for Economic Growth — a group whose funders include the likes of the Ford Foundation and the Center for International Private Enterprise. Another notable person who sits on this group’s board of overseers is the former Director of the UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was also the former initial chairperson of George Soros’s democracy-manipulating venture, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. [?]
  2. Joshua Karliner, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization (Sierra Club Books, 1997), p.53. [?]
  3. Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger, p.102. [?]
  4. Pratap Chatterjee and Matthias Finger, p.161. [?]
  5. Earth Charter International’s council has three co-chairs: Steven Rockefeller (United States), Razeena Wagiet (South Africa), and Brendan Mackey (Australia). The son of the former vice president of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller, Steven Rockefeller is professor emeritus of religion at Middlebury College, and has served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for twenty-five years (chairing the Fund’s board of trustees from 1998 to 2006). Steven is also a member of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality’s Global Council on Planetary Ethics and Values, which is home to notables like Ervin Laszlo and Vaclav Havel. The other two co-chairs of the Earth Charter council, like Steven, have similarly elitist backgrounds, as Wagiet has previously worked for WWF South Africa, and thereafter was “appointed as environmental adviser to the previous National Minister of Education, Professor Kader Asmal for four years (1999-2003)”; while Mackey co-chairs the World Conservation Union Ethics Specialist Group. [?]
  6. According to his official biography, Wealth Minerals Ltd board member, Paul Matysek, “is the former President and CEO and a co-founder of Energy Metals Corporation. Under Mr. Matysek’s stewardship, Energy Metals Corporation, a pure uranium mining and development company, was recently acquired by Uranium One Inc. in a deal valued at over one billion dollars.” His biography adds that Matysek has formerly served in a senior management at the mining and metals company, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. One notable current board member of First Quantum Minerals is Rupert L. Pennant-Rea, who is a former member of the Group of 30, an international body of leading financiers and academics that was founded in 1978 by the Rockefeller Foundation. [?]

WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60 billion From Fear

WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60 billion From Fear


–>Amaazon+tumucumaque WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon:  Making $60 billion From FearAppearing in the Booker column (and on Watts up with that?) is an account of how the “conservation” group WWF hopes to turn Amazonian trees into billions of dollars, all in the name of saving the planet. The background briefing on which Booker relied is posted below, detailing how the rainforests are to become a monstrous cash-making machine, writes Richard North:

The Amazon – a “green gold-rush”

The WWF and other green campaign groups talking up the destruction of the Amazon rainforests are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from the scare. This “green gold-rush” involves taking control of huge tracts of rainforest supposedly to stop them being chopped down, and selling carbon credits gained from carbon dioxide emissions they claim will be “saved”.

Backed by a $30 million grant from the World Bank, the WWF has already partnered in a pilot scheme to manage 20 million acres in Brazil. If their plans get the go-ahead in Mexico at the end of the year, the forests will be worth over $60 billion in “carbon credits”, paid for by consumers in “rich” countries through their electricity bills and in increased prices for goods and services.
The prospect of a billion-dollar windfall explains the sharp reaction to the “Amazongate” scandal, in which the IPCC falsely claimed that up to 40 percent of the rainforest could be at risk from even a slight drop in rainfall.

Here, the IPCC was caught out again making unsubstantiated claims based on a WWF report. But unlike the “Glaciergate” affair where its claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was conceded to be an “error”, the IPCC stood firm on its Amazon claim, stating that the assertion was “correct”. What makes the difference is that there is no serious money locked into melting glaciers. Amazonian trees, however, are potentially worth billions.

In standing its ground, the IPCC was strongly supported by the WWF, and by Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist from the US Woods Hole Research Centre. Relying on an assiduously fostered reputation as a leading expert on the effects of climate change in the Amazon rainforests, Nepstad – who works closely with the WWF – posted on the Centre’s website a personal statement endorsing “the correctness of the IPCC’s statement”. Bizarrely, his own research failed in any way to substantiate the claim.

The carbon trading agenda

Behind this very public defence lies a network of financial interests, not least on the board of the Woods Hole Research Centre, which counts several former and current equity fund managers responsible for billions of dollars-worth of private investments. The board is chaired by Lawrence Huntington – formerly of Fiduciary Trust International. Members include Joseph Robinson of MidMark Capital and Joshua Goldberg of Altamont Capital Partners, massively wealthy investment funds.

And at the centre of the advocacy for the development of “financial instruments” which it is hoped will generate billions in income is Nepstad himself (pictured below).

Nepstad+01 WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearIn 2007, Nepstad, who is the highest-paid Woods Hole staff member (although not the most senior) with a salary package of over $175,000, published a paper asserting that if the droughts of the last decade continued into the future, approximately 55 percent of the forests of the Amazon would be “cleared, logged, damaged by drought or burned over the next 20 years.” Emerging carbon market incentives, he claimed, could help prevent deforestation.

The Woods Hole interest had earlier been declared in March 2006 when Richard Houghton, a senior scientist and deputy director of the centre sent a memorandum to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) on developing a scheme called “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries” (REDD). “Carbon credits represent the largest potential flow of revenue in support of sustainable development in tropical forest regions,” he then stated.

REDD had, in fact, been a long time coming. The basis of a system had been set up by the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty, known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), administered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Through this, third world countries which reduced CO2 emissions could turn their savings into “carbon credits” which could be sold to industries in developed countries.

Crucially, the CDM only applied to energy production and some industrial processes, and did not extend to forests. After intensive lobbying, though – and despite considerable European scepticism – in 2001, the parties to the Kyoto Protocol officially approved the use of plantations for generating carbon credits.

The EU, however, decided not to allow these credits to be swapped in its emissions trading system, drastically reducing their potential value. The concept was further weakened by the considerable difficulty in proving how much carbon biomass projects actually saved over their brief and uncertain lifetimes. Estimates varied ten-fold, which damaged the credibility of the emerging voluntary market in carbon “offsets”, which were being used to test the concept of forest-generated carbon credits.

world bank WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearNevertheless, many industrial plantation companies were still hoping for the scheme to be fully developed so that they could sell carbon credits to top up their finances. And in that aspiration they had powerful champions, the World Bank in Washington (pictured), Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and, especially, WWF.

Their mechanism to bring forests fully into the CDM was REDD, which first appeared as an agenda item in December 2005, at the 11th session of the Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 11) in Montréal. Two years later, at COP 13 in Bali, it had become “the big new idea to save the planet from runaway climate change.”

The scheme was to comprise two parts. First, there is a set-up fund to create “reserves” or “protected areas” (PAs), where deforestation would be prevented (This fund has already been set up and is currently worth $4.5 billion, made up from donations from Norway, France and four other countries). Secondly, the CDM kicks in. Each ton of carbon dioxide “saved” in the protected areas becomes a carbon credit, sold to industrialists in the developed world to allow them to continue emitting CO2. By this means, the funds come rolling in.

Thus, REDD had become a vehicle for building a billion-dollar global fund to take control of hundreds of millions of acres of rainforest throughout the world, a giant cash machine.

Amazon Region Protected Areas Project (ARPA)

Amazon+expeditumu WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon:  Making $60 billion From FearLong before REDD had become a formal proposal, WWF had been heavily engaged in Brazil, campaigning to save the rainforests. But a major turning point was reached when, in 1998, Brazilian President Cardoso endorsed a WWF “Forests for Life” programme goal of protecting at least 10 percent of all of the country’s forest types as a national priority.

However, at the same time, the country was in an economic crisis and the government was scaling back environmental funding, even refusing foreign donations of $25 million pledged to support environmental measures. This gave WWF the opportunity for its coup, a chance to set up what was to become a pilot scheme for REDD. With the World Bank, Brazilian government agencies and environmental specialists, it set up a task force to develop its plan.

At that time, there was a loose-knit under-funded network of national parks, poorly administered by federal and state governments. Driven by WWF, the idea was to establish a massive extension to the system, not under the direct control of the Brazilian authorities but of the NGOs themselves. This “take over” was to become the Amazon Region Protected Areas Project (ARPA).

To finance its plan, the WWF then obtained $18 million seed funding from the San Francisco-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. This was topped up with $15 million from the German government, paid through the state-owned KfW Entwicklungsbank. Then its Brazilian partner, FUNBIO (The Brazilian Biodiversity Fund) – an NGO which had been started in 1996 with a $20 million grant from the Global Environment Facility – contributed $18 million, donated by the Brazilian government.

Fronting FUNBIO, the WWF then orchestrated a formal application for a grant from its partner, the World Bank. Predictably, in 2002, the Bank donated $30 million from public funds. It also arranged for its small grants division, the GEF to donate $500,000 to a trust fund to help maintain the areas.

Amazon tumucumaque 1 23655 WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The  Amazon: Making $60 billion From FearThe funding was sufficient to set up 20 million acres of new protected areas (10 million of “strict protection” PAs and 10 million of sustainable use). ARPA had become a reality. Announced in August 2002, it included what was to become the world’s largest reserve, the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park – consisting of 9,500,000 acres of pristine rainforest.

Situated in the extreme north of the country, bordering French Guiana (see map, right: area in green), this vast park had no roads leading in or out, almost no accessibility by air, rivers that have yet to be navigated and virtually no human inhabitants. Access is by river or helicopter. And so difficult is the terrain that a WWF expedition to the northern boundary took three weeks. At least four people returned with medical problems: two with infected feet and two with malaria.

The very remoteness of this region underlines a central point. There was virtually no risk of deforestation or commercial exploitation. Although there had been some mining in the area, even the WWF was forced to concede that the damage was “smaller than predicted.”

Then, as the WWF itself admits, the bulk of the deforestation is taking place in south and southeast, with some coastal areas and a band in the centre along the main river, where water transport is possible. As to the Tumucumaque park, the WWF assessed the risk of deforestation as “nil”- in common with most of the other ARPA strict protection areas (see maps below – click to enlarge).

Amazon+deforestation+threat WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The  Amazon: Making $60 billion From Fear

Amazon+deforest WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon:  Making $60 billion From Fear
The Plan develops

Nevertheless, by the end of 2006, WWF had the bulk of its areas established, which cleared the way for the next stage of its plan. In April 2007, it and the World Bank formalised their already very close association with the launch of a Global Forest Alliance.

By combining forces and “working with partners in government, civil society, and the business sector,” said the WWF, “Alliance partners leverage support and results to reverse the process of forest loss and degradation.” The World Bank, for its part, was to provide a $250 million start-up fund which it called the “avoided deforestation” project.

Apart from the Amazon, a prime target was one million hectares of classified “conservation forest” in West Papua, New Guinea, where tribes were complaining of evictions from their traditional lands. The WWF was already negotiating with the Indonesian government to set up a management scheme.

Woodwell WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearMeanwhile, Woods Hole Research Centre had been at work. Representing itself to the world as a scientific institute, it is in fact an advocacy group from the same wellspring as WWF. Its founder, George M Woodwell (pictured), is a former chairman of the board of trustees and currently a member of the National Council of the WWF. He thus shares its values and objectives.

Woodwell is also a founding trustee of the World Resources Institute, another advocacy group. It is currently chaired by James A Harmon, Chairman of the investment group Harmon & Co and a director of Questar Corporation, an integrated natural gas exploration, distribution and pipeline company. He is also senior advisor to the Rothschild Group. Additionally, the Institute counts as a board member Al Gore, chairman of Generation Investment Management, a company with strong interests in carbon trading.

Funded heavily by the Moore foundation, to the tune of over $7 million, and working in partnership with the WWF on the Tumucumaque project, in May 2008 Woods Hole Research Centre, alongside the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, came up with the “Holy Grail”, a methodology for calculating the carbon “savings” from managing rainforests.

With this, they estimated that areas protected by the ARPA programme would save 5.1 gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2050. Based on the UNFCCC valuation for a ton of CO2 at $12.50, that equated to over $60 billion-worth of carbon credits. This “finding” was presented that month to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, meeting in Bonn and the work was also adopted by the World Bank.

The WWF campaign

WWF+logo WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearWith this essential piece in place, the WWF then started an intensive lobbying campaign. Working with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), it produced a report to argue that: “The new generation of carbon funds must address the need for a sustained reduction in carbon emissions … “.

Crucially, it complained that forest projects were “not yet recognised under the Clean Development Mechanism” The agenda was clear. WWF and its allies wanted a new treaty, to be agreed by the then forthcoming Copenhagen climate summit, to include forests in the CDM.

To that effect, WWF released a detailed policy checklist for delegates, setting out “legal and regulatory requirements to stimulate REDD activities”. Its proposal for carbon credits, tied in with a US “cap and trade” system, could provide revenues of up to $4-$5 billion per year for REDD activities.

Ramping up the publicity, it then argued that: “Aggressive action to reduce (and ultimately halt) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) must be part of any serious policy to address the climate crisis…”. Without REDD, WWF averred, “keeping global average surface temperature increase below 2°C will likely be impossible.”

To support the case, it mobilised its allies, pulling together a raft of Brazilian NGOs with Greenpeace, Conservation International, and Friends of the Earth to launch “the National Pact to Acknowledge the Value of the Forest and to End Amazon Deforestation.”

It also set up the WWF Forest Carbon Network Initiative again arguing that carbon finance would play a critical role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. As such, it declared, the development of carbon finance mechanisms had “emerged” as a major part of WWF’s conservation finance portfolio.

Simultaneously, it launched an Amazon Fund, inviting sponsorship contributions of $50 to preserve one acre of Amazonian rainforest for 20 years, using the opportunity to argue for placing a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade programme. By this means, it said, “keeping forests intact becomes economically valuable. Climate policy can then help realize this value for countries and communities that choose to protect forests.” Halving global emissions from deforestation could produce $3.7 trillion in net benefits to the global economy, it claimed.

Then, to lock in its preferred option, WWF launched a spirited campaign against biofuels, funding a study which argued that preventing deforestation was better for “biodiversity and climate” than clearing virgin forest and planting energy crops such as oil-palm plantations.

In the run-up to the Copenhagen summit, it was now Nepstad’s turn to increase the pressure. As lead author of an article in the prestigious Science journal, he argued for the REDD mechanism, “payments for tropical forest carbon credits under a U.S. cap-and-trade system” and the need to raise $7 to $18 billion to stop forest clearance. One of his co-authors, Frank Merry, gave his address as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, while another had his as the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington.

Opposition to REDD

Amazon+REDD WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearMeanwhile, the programme was not without its critics. A small, UK-based charity, the Forest Peoples Programme expressed concern that some conservation schemes to establish wilderness reserves also denied forest-dwellers’ rights. Cut off from their ancestral territories, it said, forest peoples face poverty, the erosion of their customary institutions, loss of identity and cultural collapse.

Campaigner Chris Lang, founder of “REDD Monitor“, saw the scheme as a new way of “breathing life into the scam of carbon trading”. REDD could involve the biggest ever transfer of control over forests – to international carbon financiers and polluting companies, he said.

By September 2009, Scientific American was retailing the fears of Marcus Colchester of the Forest Peoples Programme. “We see a risk that the prospect of getting a lot of money for biodiversity could lead to indigenous peoples’ concerns falling by the wayside,” he said. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network was concerned that increasing the financial value of forests could lead to “the biggest land grab of all time.”

Expectations that things would be any different because the schemes are run by conservation groups do not appear to be fulfilled. An account of a scheme run by WWF partner, The Nature Conservancy, on Brazil’s Atlantic Coast at Guaraqueçaba, details massive “injustices”, the NGO trampling over the rights of local people.

Financed with $18 million by General Motors, Chevron and American Electric Power, this organisation – with the familiar mix of financiers on its board – created three reserves covering a total of 20,235 hectares. The commercial tie-up was seen as exposing REDD simply as a means to help polluting corporations to “offset” their emissions, without leading to any overall drop in CO2 emissions. The NGOs were simply the “front” organisations, the acceptable public face.

tribes WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From Fear
Other writers see REDD as “Tribal Peoples Versus Carbon Cowboys”, arguing that the scheme will bring indigenous peoples “massive disruption and little benefit.” Jonathan Mazower, of Survival International, notes that where outsiders place monetary value on land where indigenous people live, they “always almost suffer”. His organisation has produced a report condemning the whole system.

Reinforcing the concern, the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change stated: “REDD will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agriculture practices, destroy biodiversity and culture diversity and cause social conflicts.”

When it came to the Copenhagen summit, no final agreement was reached on a climate treaty. But, much to the relief of WWF and its allies, elements of REDD – now known as “REDD+” were agreed. And, for the critics of the scheme, it looked as if their worst fears had been realised. In the small print of the proposal, there had been an explicit reference to the need to safeguard indigenous peoples. But, when it came to the actual Copenhagen accord, there was no mention of rights or safeguards at all. Yet this will go forward for final agreement at Mexico at end of the year.


Coke WWF WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearAs a “conservation” group, the WWF is seen by many as having an unhealthily close relationship with big business. In 2007, for instance, it entered into a partnership with the drinks giant Coca-Cola, taking a fee of $20 million as part of an agreement to tackle its “water footprint”.

It incurred the ire of The Ecologist and other environmental groups for supporting actions of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), which it co-founded in 2004. This grouping comprises producers, finance, trade & industry representatives, NGOs, certification bodies and universities.

Members range from Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge to Unilever, Shell, BP, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, WWF and producers such as Gruppo André Maggi – the world’s largest soybean producer based in Brazil.

Despite its concern for deforestation – in which soya growing is heavily implicated – WWF endorsed an RTRS criterion that could allow “responsible” soy to be grown on land that was deforested as recently as May 2009. And soy can still be labelled “responsible” when harvested from lands deforested after May 2009 if the producer could demonstrate that it was not prime forest or an area of High Conservation Value, or land belonging to local peoples.

On the ground, freelance writer Glenda Freeman, a native of New Zealand/Aotearoa, describes WWF activities as “Green Imperialism“, labelling this giant, corporate organisation a “BINGO” (Big International Non-governmental Organisation). She complains that WWF intervention keeps native populations “idle and dependent” while creating the problem it hoped to solve.

Anonymous authors of a publication entitled, “People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism” – a group of dissident environmentalists – state that foreign conservation conglomerates “whitewash effort to please donors so that the big bucks will keep flowing.” They contradict claims that these groups have had any real conservation impact.

Speaking of efforts in Papua New Guinea (PNG), they assert that, “With the help of willing donors such as AUS-AID, UNDP, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Moore Foundation, any possibility of achieving lasting conservation of PNG’s biodiversity is being destroyed in the here and now… The international conservation NGOs in PNG are proving to be a model of how not to do either conservation or development”.

Organisations such as WWF, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy are accused of having caused “the atrophy of what would have been a natural evolution of a truly indigenous conservation movement.” Corporate, hierarchical models of conservation based upon outside foreign experts – often with little in-country knowledge or concern – threaten the world’s rainforest as surely as logging, agriculture, etc.

And in a commentary that could have been written with the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park in mind, they note that uninhabited forests that are impossible to log or destroy in any other way are pointed out, without the hint of a snicker, as being “forests we have saved” by these neocolonialist NGOs.

Lines are drawn on the map to show the new conservation areas. Yes, the big boys say they’re achieving a lot of conservation in PNG and they’ve got the maps to prove it. It’s all a whitewash effort to please donors so that the big bucks will keep flowing.

Amazon+soya WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearWriters Lim Soomin and Dr. Steven Shirley, of Keimyung International College, Daegu, Republic of Korea, are equally critical. Within Brazil, they say, the WWF’s efforts have created concern from both business and political groups that want to integrate the massive potential of the Amazon into the country’s economy through dam building, mining projects, highways, ports, logging and agricultural exports.

Running counter to these domestic plans, they write, are international efforts promoted by the WWF and other NGOs that seek to restrict Brazil’s business and industry from utilizing the natural resources. Essentially, these groups are seeking to ban Brazilians from using what is Brazil’s unless a foreign government or bureaucracy gives permission.

Meanwhile, the campaigning group Friends of Peoples Close to Nature complained of the World Bank’s “lies and deception with WWF”, noting in particular that “projects to promote new markets in carbon have despoiled landscapes and ruined livelihoods.”

A giant international corporation

eco imperialism WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon:  Making $60 billion From FearIn the introduction to the book Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death by Paul Driessen, we read of the “ideological environmental movement.”

This, we are told, imposes the views of mostly wealthy, comfortable Americans and Europeans on mostly poor, desperate Africans, Asians and Latin Americans. It violates these people’s most basic human rights, denying them economic opportunities, the chance for better lives, the right to rid their countries of diseases that were vanquished long ago in Europe and the United States.

Worst of all, in league with the European Union, United Nations and other bureaucracies, the movement stifles vigorous, responsible debate over energy, pesticides and biotechnology. It prevents needy nations from using the very technologies that developed countries employed to become rich, comfortable and free of disease. And it sends millions of infants, children, men and women to early graves every year.

This ideological environmental movement, we are thus informed, is a powerful $4 billion-a-year US industry, an $8 billion-a-year international gorilla. And WWF is one of the major players. Like the profit-making international corporations it so freely criticises – into which it has crawled into bed, taking their money – the WWF itself is a massive international corporation,. Its declared income for 2008 was €447 million, including €107.7 million for its international arm.

This enables it to finance a massive publicity effort, giving it privileged access to the media, and to governments and international agencies – from which it draws much of its funding.

Ranged against this corporate giant is a disparate, ill-funded range of individuals and groups, with only a small fraction of its resources. Inevitably, the voice of WWF is heard loudest, drowning out complaints and concerns.

That much also applies to its field activities. Where, as is so often, it is operating in remote areas, there is rarely an independent voice or observer capable of recording what precisely happens. Much of what we know of WWF’s activities, therefore, comes from WWF itself, inevitably spun in its own favour.

A self-serving industry

carter WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making $60  billion From FearThe greatest criticism, however, is that the organisation is manifestly self-serving. Certainly, no one can argue that WWF is not personally rewarding for some of its officers. The current CEO of the US branch, Carter S Roberts (pictured left), is paid “compensation” of $439,327.

Before joining WWF he spent 15 years at The Nature Conservancy. Earlier in his career, he led marketing and management teams at Gillette, Procter and Gamble and at Dun and Bradstreet, where he advised companies including RJR/Nabisco and Coca-Cola. The associations reinforce the impression of a small clique dominating the environmental charity “industry” and the closeness between that industry and the commercial corporates.

As to the Amazon venture, this perhaps is the clearest example of the self-serving ethos, best illustrated by comparison with what an effective conservation programme might seek to achieve.

In this, it is widely recognised that the greatest pressure on the forests is through clearance to make way for agriculture, including soya, sugar growing for ethanol production, and cattle ranching. In fact, according to Greenpeace, cattle ranching currently accounts for 80 percent of forest clearance (see map below).

Amazon+cattle WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearHowever, as WWF has acknowledged, the bulk of this clearance is in the south and east. And, as Greenpeace reports, the maximum pressure is in the southernmost state of Mato Grosso. On the other hand, there is no cattle ranching in the extreme north and west, where the bulk of the WWF protected areas are situated, and neither is the land suitable for soya or sugar cane growing.

It follows, therefore, that for an “avoided deforestation” project to have most effect, it should be located in areas where the forest is most at risk – i.e., in the south or east, and especially in the Mato Grosso. To locate projects in the uninhabited north, or the sparsely inhabited, inaccessible west, cannot be considered a high priority.

Furthermore, as is pointed out in a report from the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, for maximum carbon sequestration, the most effective option is reforestation of deforested areas. This is also the best conservation and biodiversity option.

As to a finance system based wholly or largely on carbon credits, there were “considerable risks for perverse incentives regarding these objectives.” Firstly, the potentially huge number of credits that would become available if the entire global forest mass was included in the CDM would crash the carbon price. This would give CO2 producers a “get out of jail free” card, reducing their incentive to adopt carbon reduction technologies by allowing them to acquire cheap credits and maintain a “business as usual” profile.

Secondly, a simplistic, market-based system such as CDM would not discriminate between priority areas, which tend to be problematic, and the “low hanging fruit”. This is recognised by the Freiburg report – which was commissioned by Greenpeace – where reference is made to “leakage”, the displacement of emissions, rather than any absolute reduction.

Such nuanced arguments, with other reservations set out in further reports, seem to be absent from the WWF case. While Greenpeace opposes the universal adoption of the CDM mechanism, and proposes focusing on priority areas, WWF persists in making shrill demands for unrestricted carbon trading. Without this, it says, “keeping global average surface temperature increase below 2°C will likely be impossible.”

A human-centric approach

Amazon+survival WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon:  Making $60 billion From FearIn contrast to the wildlife-centric approach of the WWF, and the environmental activism of Greenpeace, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and organisations such as Survival International, take a human-centric approach.

Securing the land rights of indigenous people, and rigorously enforcing them, they argue, is the best way of preventing damaging exploitation of the forests. And, as Survival International illustrates, environmental degradation and human rights abuses often go hand-in-hand.

Other issues, such as illegal logging, are primarily matters for law enforcement. While NGOs have proved of considerable value in pointing out lapses in enforcement – and worse – as well as reporting illegal activities to the authorities, establishment of extremely expensive protected areas is hardly necessary for such functions to be performed. The revenue-generating potential of monitoring activities, however, is very low.

In it for the money

Taken at face value, and certainly at the valuation placed upon its enterprise by WWF, setting up protected areas in the Amazon rainforests is wholly benign. From a robust, climate-sceptic stance, however, attempting to lock carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is a waste of time and effort. On the other hand, even if the entire climate change agenda is accepted unreservedly, the enterprise still fails to pass muster – on numerous counts.

In the first instance, the ARPA project is extraordinarily expensive. The $80 million spent is more than ten times the entire income of a charity such as Survival International. Arguably, with considerably less funds, it achieves a great deal more than this exercise.

Secondly, even if the enterprise could be considered good value in isolation, it would be very hard to argue that the areas chosen – in the context of the damage being done elsewhere – represent the main or even an important priority. The resource expended, undoubtedly, could achieve more in other areas.

Thirdly, the reserves are a high maintenance exercise and are not economically viable. They require a constant flow of funds from external sources – thus generating the need for the carbon trading scheme. A less ambitious – or more pragmatic – scheme which achieved less than perfection but which was economically self-sustaining, would achieve more overall. Such a model, though, does not seem to have been considered.

Amazon+smoke WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearFourthly, the projects seem to have been set up in anticipation of the need for continued external funding, essentially creating a demand for financial scheme that would otherwise have no justification. Effectively, one could see the ARPA scheme as a Trojan Horse for trading in forest carbon.

Fifth, the actual amount of carbon saved would be minimal, and only a fraction of what could be saved if other options were taken up, such as reforestation.

Sixth, the trading in forest carbon would destabilise the CDM, crashing the carbon price and obviate the need for industrial CO2 producers to invest in “clean” technologies. Longer-term, it would reduce the amount of finance available for forest preservation and restitution, as funds were diverted to harvesting “low hanging fruit”.

Seventh, the programme is an interference in the internal affairs of host nations, distorting national priorities and absolving – or even preventing – those nations developing environmental protection schemes attuned to their own specific needs. It also risks damaging the rights of indigenous peoples, and creating dependency cultures.

In terms of climate change mitigation, conservation or any similar aspect, therefore, there is nothing to commend this WWF strategy. It is wholly malign. From the WWF stance, however, there are many advantages.

Firstly, the scheme would generate significant income for the pioneer, which happens to be WWF. It also generates funds for donor countries, either directly or indirectly by subsidising environmental programmes which would otherwise have to be tax-funded. This ensures cordial relations between the NGO and the governments on which they rely for access and permission to operate.

Secondly, it is a high-profile activity with a strong “feel-good” quotient which is likely to be attractive to private and corporate donors. It allows the claim that “we are saving the forests” – and the planet.

The effect of this, incidentally, can be seen in the report of KFW Entwicklungsbank, which cites project manager Jens Ochtrop. He says: “There is practically no more illegal felling of trees, planting of soybean fields or grazing of cattle in the ARPA areas. The protection by ARPA also affects land speculators and illegal tree fellers. They keep away”.

But then, in the inaccessible Tumucumaque Mountains National Park and other strict protection areas, there was no illegal felling of trees, planting of soybean fields or grazing of cattle. One could make a similar case for the success of a wild elephant eradication scheme in Croydon High Street or Brooklyn.

Amazon+tumac WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearThirdly, the activity is politically “safe”. It avoids confrontation with vested interests in the host country, which might then provoke a political backlash and curtailment of (revenue-generating) activities. It also positions the organisation away from the areas of highest degradation and thus absolves WWF from having to intervene – or report abuse – which might upset actual or potential corporate sponsors and allies.

Fourth, carbon trading itself presents a very valuable income stream for investment and finance houses, which are well-represented on the boards of environmental charity allies and donor foundations. All of these can be relied upon to provide generous support for future activities, funded in part from carbon trading.

Fifth, forest credits available in significant numbers would reduce overall the costs of emitting CO2 for many industrial enterprises and eliminate the need for expensive CO2 reduction technology – and many of these industrial enterprises are generous funders of the environmental movement.

Chris Land, again puts some this in perspective, noting that the Indonesian government is fond of REDD, “not least because it hopes to gain millions of dollars worth of funding through REDD.”

Amazon+cattle2 WWF Mines The Green Gold Rush To The Amazon: Making  $60 billion From FearHe also notes that countries in the north are keen to fund REDD in Indonesia, not least because it allows them to greenwash continued oil extraction. Norway’s StatoilHydro, he says, is developing oil projects in Indonesia. Meanwhile, Norway’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Eivind Homme can claim that, “Norway is financing the UN REDD program, one of the pilot projects on climate change, in Indonesia.”

That identifies a final element. The scheme allows national governments to be seen to be “doing something” on climate change, while avoiding excessive burdens on their industries, on which they rely for taxation and employment. Governments are increasingly important financiers of environmental NGOs, and will tend to favour those who support their agendas.

Putting this all together, one does not need a public admission from WWF to assert – with great confidence – that the motivation behind its current Amazon schemes is money. Similar motivation can be seen in other environmental groups, including the Woods Hole Research Centre.

Above all, to keep the money flowing, there must be continued alarums about “climate change” and its impact on rainforests. Without global warming, of course, there would still be pressure on the forests from logging, from agricultural encroachment and other land use. But it would be difficult to sustain such a large cash flow from dealing with these problems, or legitimise intervention in what would then be the internal affairs of host nations.

Climate change – à la WWF – therefore, affords both cash and an excuse to intervene. If it didn’t actually exist, it would surely have to be invented.

As reported by RN