Barry Brill: Local weather lobbying is well-liked for billionaires

Reposted from the Breaking Views Blog

Barry Brill

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

Now it’s about money and politics. Not just any of that. All of it.

The highlight of the global interface between money and politics is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. This week is the 2023 Global Risks meeting – a dominant theme is (again) the fossil fuel phase-out campaign.

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

More than a thousand private jet aircraft served last year’s gathering. As Greenpeace says, “The rich and powerful are flocking to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially unjust private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors.”

Private jet flights are by far the most emission-intensive means of transport per passenger kilometer ever invented. Each Davos flight caused on average CO2 emissions equivalent to about 350,000 average cars for a week.

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

Now it’s a week of fine dining: Airflow Filet, French chops, truffle ice cream, the very best cheeses. Despite this, Davos Man will remain a firm advocate of veganism – and eating proteins derived from insects – to “save the planet”.

Oxfam tracked the investments of 125 billionaires and found that they emit an average of 393 Mt of CO2 per year, the equivalent of all of France and “making a billionaire’s annual emissions millions of times higher than those of a person in the poorest 90% of the world’s population”.

The only rational conclusion to draw from all this cognitive dissonance is that these rich people don’t actually believe a word of what they keep preaching about climate change.

They call for rules of pain and sacrifice “for you, but not for me”. They say one thing and do the other. As the old cliché goes, your actions speak louder than words.

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

Money, money, money, money….

On Tuesday, US climate czar John Kerry told the Davos gathering that the WEF climate strategy was modeled after the global rollout of the Covid vaccine and needed a lot more money:

“So how do we get there? Well, that’s a lesson I’ve learned over the past few years, and I’ve learned it as a secretary [of State] and I’ve learned it ever since, amplified in spades, is: money, money, money, money, money, money, money. And I’m sorry to say that.”

Kerry does not promote “green” investments. He talks to philanthropists about philanthropy:

“We need to do it on a massive basis, and the key to that is philanthropy…. I mean yes technology, yes exciting new initiatives, yes political organization of winning races… but we have to go further.”

Going beyond the political organization of winning races? What on earth could the WEF have in mind?

An urge to be a superhero?

In this week’s Newsweek, an Austrian economics professor claims: “Climate activism has nothing to do with the planet. It’s about the boredom of the bourgeoisie.” The introductory paragraph reads:

“The demise of capitalism will not come from the uprising of an impoverished working class, but from the sabotage of a bored upper class. That was the view of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter believed that at some point in the future an educated elite would have nothing left to fight for and would instead fight against the system in which they themselves lived.”

The op-ed argues that the green movement is not a reflection of a global crisis, but rather a crisis of meaning for the affluent.

The favorite fantasy of the western upper class is that the end of the world is imminent and can only be averted if we radically change the way we live. But “we” does not include the really rich. no Your heroic role is to bring about all these changes. be leader. History will record that it was their vision and courage that secured the future of mankind.

Prof Schoellhammer says they don’t mind that every alarmist prediction has been proven wrong – because facts can be trumped by ‘morality’. Extreme predictions conjure up a substitute religion that allows the super-rich to simultaneously enjoy their wealth and educate the rest of the world from a position of moral superiority.

Intergenerational guilt also plays a role. The Newsweek article reveals that the unspeakable Just Stop Oil group, which douses priceless paintings with ketchup, is on the payroll of Aileen Getty, granddaughter of legendary oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty. who knew

The Rockefeller Foundation, established from the legendary oil wealth[1]is committed to placing the fight against climate change at the heart of everything it does, including all of its many operations and investments.

Is this article convincing? Could parts of the “Top 1%” really be that selfish or guilty? Do they signal virtue or promote/protect their investments?

Buy alarm and panic

John Kerry is quite outspoken about funding the political campaigns of candidates who support draconian climate policies. No leftist candidate anywhere in the developed world could be elected in 2023 without first prostrating before the shrine of climate change alarm.

But it’s not enough to buy politicians unless they can be re-elected.

Public opinion also needs to be bought, and that’s a long hard job: the press, electronic media, government officials, celebrities, pollsters, academics, labor unions, bloggers, social media gatekeepers, teachers, influencers, the entertainment industry, etc – in everyone region and every district in the English-speaking world. It all adds up to serious money.

In the past five years, only three US billionaires (Soros, Bloomberg, Bezos) have funded NGOs to employ at least 30,000 full-time equivalent climate activists. Funded by wealthy individuals and charitable foundations around the world, NGO workers number in the millions[2]. @SDGaction, an NGO, boasts that in 2021 alone, its members amassed 100 million “transformative actions” and stunts that changed the world.

These activists work all day, every day, to lobby anywhere, anyplace to demand more extreme and inclusive climate policies. The envisaged result is to overwhelm and control public debate – or ensure there is no public debate – and propagate cultures and politics of chronic self-deception on all issues related to climate change. They have been remarkably successful.

The Newsweek article includes this chilling revelation:

“At the 2018 Climate Action Summit, two dozen billionaire-backed foundations pledged $4 billion to lobby on climate change.

Some of them, like the Hewlett Foundation, directly fund journalists at the Associated Press for “climate coverage,” while foundations associated with the Packard and Rockefeller families have supported the Covering Climate Now journalistic endeavor, which “works with journalists and Newsrooms to produce more informed and urgent climate reports” and funds hundreds of media outlets.

Two years after that summit, Jeff Bezos alone has pledged $10 billion to fund activists, NGOs, and scientists because he believes (wrongly) that “Earth’s climate has been changing faster than the scientific community predicted five years ago.”

Imagine how much propaganda that ten billion dollars will buy!

For years, billionaire Michael Bloomberg quietly funded private attorneys to work in public prosecutors in Democratic states. These privately funded lawyers are conducting climate lawsuits against oil companies and the like — on behalf of the state.

Forbes reports how billionaires Tom Steyer, Hank Paulson and Bloomberg successfully bribed US climate scientists to reposition the most extreme IPCC scenario (RCP8.5) to falsely call it “business as usual”.

Billionaire Larry Fink has siphoned off trillions of dollars in BlackRock client money from companies that haven’t yet pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Big Questions

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

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

What would happen if all this multi-billion dollar philanthropy was taken away from politicians, bureaucrats, environmental organizations, newspapers, broadcasters, etc.?

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


[1] John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world a century ago, founded Standard Oil (precursor to Exxon-Mobil and Caltex) and is considered the father of the global oil industry.
[2] ‘Charities’ are now the third largest employment sector in the UK.

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

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