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Dark Green Money: A Glimpse Inside the Big Green Funding Machine

January 10, 2019

Canadians are being misled into believing industry has undue influence on climate policy when the reality is it is large environmental lobbying groups who exert such undue influence on climate policy.

This study aims to make the public aware of the extent to which foundation and government funding of climate lobbying has resulted in costly measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

From the study's summary: 

Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. foundations provided $556.7 million to support activities at the U.S. federal, state and municipal levels related to global warming and energy, with the top five recipients of the funding being the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Climate Protection, Nature Conservancy, the Partnership Project, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 2017, the Hewlett Foundation announced it would spend $600 million over the next decade to influence global warming policies and actions. Michael Bloomberg, via his foundation, is estimated to have contributed $164 million to political and legal campaigns to shut down coal plants in the United States; he plans to spend $50 million more to do the same in other countries. Billionaire Tom Steyer has spent $150 million in successive elections to mobilize “climate” voters in support of Democratic Party candidates in the United States.

The environmental groups, in short, are rich. Still, they cannot compete for spending on environmental advocacy with federal and provincial governments. According to reports from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the federal government operates almost 300 different programs (including subsidies, regulations, social marketing and taxes) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the provinces and territories have almost 280 more. According to the 2018-2019 Main Estimates of the federal government, ECCC and NRCan alone will spend $1.14 billion dollars this fiscal year on climate and sustainable development programs, grants and contributions.

Canadians should not have to find out about the funding by foreign foundations of political interest groups in this country as a result of a various citizens researching tax filings to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service … [nor should] Canadians … have to guess how much money is being spent by governments to fund the “Iron Triangle”1 of climate change confirmation bias, with various large and small non-repayable grants and contracts to environmental groups, already subsidized by taxpayers through their charitable status. Billions of tax dollars are being spent in questionable ways to promote emissions reduction here, in a world in which Canada plays an extremely marginal role, if any, in the growth of global emissions. It is time to take the mask off the big green funding machine.

Robert Lyman is an economist with 35 years’ experience as an analyst, policy advisor, and senior manager in the Canadian federal government.