Rising Tide North America has launched an online campaign, demanding an end to financial and political relationships between big NGOs and Corporate America. The response (posted below) from Fred Krupp, the President of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the targetted NGOs, arrogantly shrugs off the accusations.
In his response, Krupp does precisely what the petition writers demand must stop. Instead of “putting these corporation’s feet to the fire”, Krupp praises MacDonalds and FedEx for small changes they have made. Hardly surprising when this is official EDF policy. “Our partnerships with corporations are designed to create new market demand for improved products,” Krupp explains.
“Corporate partnerships” are one of EDF’s four core strategies. These partnerships are so close that EDF sees little or no difference between its own aims and those of its corporate friends. “The environment is our only client,” EDF writes, ever so slightly smugly, on its website, “while businesses are our allies in pursuit of common aims.”
What EDF means by “common aims” is revealed by some of EDF’s alliances. In 2007, for example, EDF was a co-founder of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). This brings NGOs like EDF together with such corporate stewards of the environment as Shell, Weyerhaeuser, Rio Tinto, Exelon, General Electric, Siemens, General Motors, Ford, AES, Alcoa, Chrysler, Dow Chemicals, Duke Energy, Du Pont and others in a push for corporate-friendly climate legislation.
As Krupp knows, EDF is a major promoter of trading forest carbon. EDF signed on to Avoided Deforestation Partners’ deal between NGOs and polluting industry. In December 2008, to coincide with the UN climate negotiations took place in Poznan, climate activists occupied EDF’s office in protest against its support of carbon trading.
Another of EDF’s four core strategies is “Economic incentives”, otherwise known as a blind faith in the market, regardless of the problem caused by (and faced by) this miraculous market. On its website, EDF explains its REDD policy as follows:
“Our plan would award countries that reduce deforestation with credits to be sold on the international carbon market. This would make the forests worth more alive than dead and keep the 300 billion tons of carbon they store out of the atmosphere.”
Except that it wouldn’t keep any carbon out of the atmosphere. It would convert forest carbon to carbon credits, which would allow fossil fuel burning to continue, effectively guaranteeing runaway climate change. Bad for billions of people and the planet, perhaps, but great for EDF’s corporate chums.
Stop Taking Cash From Corporate Polluters!
As a person who values our environment and believes in conservation, I am writing to demand that your organization stops taking money from corporate polluters or engaging in partnerships with major corporate polluters.
As highlighted in Johann Hari’s article, “The Wrong Kind of Green” (The Nation, 3/4/10), taking money directly from corporate polluters and/or forming corporate partnerships with corporate polluters makes it impossible to trust that you are holding these companies to the highest standards. We need to be putting these corporation’s feet to the fire, and demanding that they stop polluting our air and water, not lauding them for small changes they may or may not make.
We are in the midst of an urgent ecological crisis. This is the time to be strong and stand up to the corporate polluters- not to take their cash and congratulate them. Please be a leader and help re-inspire the environmental movement: stop taking cash from or forming partnerships with corporate polluters.
From: Fred Krupp
Sent: Thu, April 1, 2010 7:00:17 PM
Subject: RE: Stop Taking Cash From Corporate Polluters!
Thank you for your email referring to the recent Nation article on corporate funding of environmental advocacy groups. I appreciate your concerns and that you care enough to write me about them.
As you may have noticed, EDF was not mentioned in the article. Our giving restrictions on corporate donations are designed to avoid conflicts of interest. We do not take contributions from manufacturers, extractive industries or any company that would be impacted positively or negatively by our advocacy. We also do not take money from anyone with whom we are partnering.
Our partnerships with corporations are designed to create new market demand for improved products. We require that our name not be used in any way without our explicit approval, and the outcomes of those efforts must be broadly available to the public and to competitors of our partners. A partnership with McDonald’s yielded new specifications for chickens that reduced the use of routine antibiotics in chicken feed by an estimated 90%. A partnership with FedEx opened demand for a hybrid electric delivery truck – a truck not previously on the market – that cut greenhouse gases by a third and conventional pollutants by a range of 65-95%. The partnership with FedEx also helped demonstrate the viability of national clean air standards for diesel trucks. In both cases we praised the action of the two companies but were careful not to imply an endorsement of the companies themselves, and the companies provided no funding for these efforts.
I hope this information is helpful to your understanding of our efforts.
President, Environmental Defense Fund
The photograph above is Fred Krupp, President Environmental Defense Fund at the announcement of the USCAP, 22 January 2007, taken by World Resources Institute / CC BY 2.0.