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Fred Krupp, president of Environment Defense Fund, defends EDF’s cozy corporate partnerships

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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.

Petition Text
 

Stop Taking Cash From Corporate Polluters!

 
Greetings,
 
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.
 
[Your name]

From: Fred Krupp
To:
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.
 
Yours truly,
Fred Krupp
President, Environmental Defense Fund

 


PHOTO Credit: Fred Krupp, President Environmental Defense Fund, at the announcement of the USCAP, 22 January 2007, World Resources Institute / CC BY 2.0.
 

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  1. Open Letter to Mr. Fred Krupp,
    The only sentence that brought my attention of your letter -the rest is pure vagueness – is “our partnerships with corporations are designed to create new market demand for improved products”. I will disclosed you business partnership as follow. Your organization has become a PR and market research company that supports big polluters instead of moving towards a low carbon economy. As is described below your mission as EFD boss is help Corporate America to do not run out of business.Moreover to keep business as usual regarding environmental awareness and climate justice.
    Mr. Krupp, you have more problems than facing the Rising Tide North America campaign. As big boss of EDF we request from you a clarification statement: do you work for global public interest or for American Corporate Power?.
    Please be honest since the next information posted is very hard to denial.
    You need to explain how, when and why EDF Governance Board and partners have been hijacked by Wall Street insiders, capital ad-venturers, polluters,right wing leaders and currently carbon dealers. For instance, Carl Ferenbach CEO of Berkshire Partners LLC is EDF Chair of Board of Trustees and well know fan of carbon trade and investor. EDF partner for green business is Pew Center, a hybrid right wing “think tank” addicted to polluters as well. Should I continue Mr.Krupp?
    Pew Center established with your support the Business Environmental Leadership Council. Early council members included Sunoco, Dupont, Duke Energy, BP, Royal Dutch/Shell, Ontario Power Generation, DTE (Detroit Edison), and Alcan.
    Am I not telling the truth to the public Mr. Krupp?
    The Council emphasized that climate change should be dealt with through “market-based mechanisms”. Is not true that in the fall of 2000, EDF and Pew Center signed an agreement with Dupont, BP, Shell, Suncor, Alcan, and Ontario Power Generation to form the Partnership for Climate Action (PCA)?. Is not true that like-minded EDF directors included the Pew Center’s Frank Lay and principals from the Carlyle Group, Berkshire Partners (who controls EDF), Morgan Stanley and the CEO of Carbon Investments?. Was not the primary purpose of the Partnership champion carbon market-based mechanisms? Do you remember those repeated like mantra messages of your campaign?: “the benefits of market mechanisms,” “market-oriented rules,” “the power of market mechanisms to contribute to climate change solutions.” etc. The truth Mr. Krupp that your campaign was produced to attract new investors to carbon markets. This project gained the avid attention of investment bankers, some of whom were central participants in the PCA through their connections with the boards of the Pew Center and EDF.
    This is not true Mr. Krupp?
    Do you denial you have not worked with Goldman Sachs?
    Goldman Sachs became the leader of the pack; with its ownership of power plants through Cogentrix and clients like BP and Shell. In 2004 Godman Sachs established its Center for Environmental Markets, with the announcement that “will aggressively seek market-making and investment opportunities in environmental markets”. By 2007 the Pew Center and Partnership for Climate Action created a political lobbying entity, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). USCAP membership included EDF key business partners such as BP, Dupont, the Pew Center but added others, including GE, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, Florida Power and Light, and PNM, the New Mexico and Texas utilities holding company. Also joining USCAP was the Natural Resources Defense Council (known as NRDC), the World Resources Institute, (who’s former Governance Program Director Frances Seymour is now the boss of CIFOR Indonesia, a think tank supporting REDD). Small world ah?…
    As Newsweek now noted with regard your project (March 12, 2007), “Wall Street is experiencing a climate change”, with the recognition that “the way to get the green is to go green.”
    In January, 2007, USCAP issued “A Call for Action,”stressing that “a mandatory system is needed that sets clear, predictable, market-based requirements to reduce GHGs. This is the reason EDF and NRDC are supporting a cheap mandatory carbon credit mechanism at UNFCCC negotiations.
    This American corporate mindset that cross all the spectrum of organizations based in DC is contaminating and discouraging all efforts to have honest steps to reduce emissions in the largest emitter country: The United States of America.
    Clearly Mr. Krupp your organization, partners, and friends including the Pew Center and NRDC are old wolfs in sheep’s clothing.
    best regards
    Rupert De Santos

  2. Well done REDD-Monitor and @Rupert for continuing to help us understand the depth of the self-serving treachery which the likes of EDF and CI have sunk to. The public supporters of these organisations need to know that, whilst they thought they were helping protect the environment, all they are actually doing is helping to green the image of the people that are destroying it.

    This information needs to gain much wider coverage – we need a mass campaign of cancellation of subscriptions and funding to these disgusting organisations.

  3. Dear Sarah,
    Many of us are starting to learn how these organizations operate in carbon markets. The more we look into their practices, we understand more conflict of interests appear. For instance, if you review EDF annual financial statement (2009), no single page of its long report give us a sense of who is funding EDF. You will be surprise to know that the 2009 report give us no information of names of donors. Nevertheless, total EDF program and supporting services expenses for fiscal 2009 were US $104.5 million.EDF total net assets grew US $41.2 million to US $172.4 million during fiscal 2009.How this could be possible with such global economic crisis?: It is simple. EDF helps polluters through services called “partnerships” to build a competitive advantage over other polluters who do not contribute to their funding allowing them to access carbon markets. That is why EDF is advocating for a cheap REDD mechanism that will allow its clients to offset CO2 emissions by a very cheap price making huge profits. For US polluters is cheaper to offset abroad than comply with US regulations. Plus EDF is tax exempt: cheaper than a PR company or law firm. In turn, EDF have no single program or project to assist local communities in developing countries to understand the tricks and problems of REDD. Check its website.EDF donors are multilateral agencies such as UNDP or good foundations such as Ford Foundation or Open Society. Their major source of income comes from trustees such as Carl Ferenbach (Berkshire Partners) or big polluters. I hope a good public interest lawyer in the US helps to learn whether foundation regulations in the US obligate NGO such as EDF to disclose to the public the names of their donors and contributors.
    Can anyone help us to understand these non profit regulations?
    best,
    Rupert

  4. The heads of 13 major American polluters and investment companies and DC BINGOs held a press conference on January 22 in Washington, D.C. to announce a united approach for action to reduce GHGs emissions. Be aware that major partners are the following: Jonathan Lash (President, World Resources Institute), Jim Rogers (Chairman, President and C.E.O., Duke Energy), Alain Belda (Chairman and C.E.O., Alcoa), Richard S. Fuld, Jr. (Chairman and C.E.O., Lehman Brothers), Jeffry Sterba (Chairman, President and C.E.O., PNM Resources), Fred Krupp (President, Environmental Defense), Eileen Claussen (President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change), Jim Owens (Chairman and C.E.O., Caterpillar Inc.), Peter Darbee (Chairman, C.E.O. and President, PG&E Corporation), Frances Beinecke (President, Natural Resources Defense Council), Lew Hay III (Chairman and C.E.O., FPL Group), Chad Holliday (Chairman and C.E.O., DuPont), Jeffrey Immelt (Chairman and C.E.O., General Electric).
    These DC people have a business approach of climate change policy making and looking forward to have a binding REDD mechanism that will allow polluters and carbon traders to profit. If you review their statements there’s very poor record of providing mechanisms and additional funding for facing challenges of climate change adaptation in developing countries. These people are behind the master plan to help US to do not follow a post Kyoto regime.
    They are very will connected with the US government.

  5. And here is the latest mail out from Rising Tide North America (3 April 2010) via Facebook:

    As many of you who took RTNA’s online action yesterday have seen (and if you haven’t, you should), ED and NWF were very concerned about our email action, and emailed their own responses. It’s good to know that they are feeling the heat!

    Rising Tide has developed our own response – which you can view on our website, or you can check out below.

    Take the action, and share this response with your network. It’s time to hold the big greens accountable to the people, not just to their corporate sponsors.

    ***

    SAN FRANCISCO- Rising Tide North America released the following statement on the influence of corporate polluters on Big “Greens” groups:

    “For far too long Big Green groups like the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Conservation International (CI), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and many others have allowed their financial and political relationships with Corporate America to compromise their positions on the biggest ecological crises in history. These groups, ostensibly fighting on our behalf, have chosen to ally themselves with the very corporations that we must stop to avert catastrophic climate chaos. Rising Tide North America opposes the influential hold that corporate polluters have held on the Big “Green” groups for decades and calls on those groups to sever these relationships.

    “We think transparency from environmental organizations is important. While some of these organizations happily accept monetary donations from corporations, some do have public policies that appear to limit such direct contributions. However, just as corporations and politicians have learned to circumvent campaign-finance and donations laws – a similar shell game is often played in the philanthropic world. Direct corporate monies may not always appear in organizational operating budgets – money and influence from corporations dramatically influence and sway the priorities, politics, and agendas of these organizations.

    • Advisory Boards, Board of Directors, and Senior Management are increasingly comprised of people from corporate backgrounds, rather than from environmental, science, or community-based interests.
    • Corporate sponsorship of projects, programs, conference, publications, and policies are rapidly becoming standard practice.
    • Increased reliance on revenues from foundations or high donors rather than broad memberships who should have a voice in organizational decisions.
    • “Individual” giving by corporate executives is pervasive, and provides a clear loophole for corporate monies to enter operating budgets.

    “While there may be principled concerns with corporate influence on these organizations, the most pressing concern should focus on the positions and policies that these organizations are taking. Do these organizations take positions consistent with science, ecology, and human rights? Unfortunately, many of these positions are increasingly consistent with their corporate supporters and partners, and often undermine science, community demands, and grassroots social movements.

    “Mainstream green groups often form partnerships with some of the worst environmental polluters. For example, through the US-Climate Action Partnership, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resource Defense Council, and the National Wildlife Federation have forged partnerships with Shell, Dupont, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Ford, General Motors, and others. While it may be impossible to say exactly how much these partnerships effect the positions put forward by environmental groups, the support of environmental organizations through these partnerships provide greenwashing for some of the most polluting companies in the world- and helps them escape scrutiny of other dirty aspects of their business.

    “The changes that these small companies make are often little more than hot air. For example- Environmental Defense proudly promotes its’ partnership with FedEx to develop hybrid-electric delivery trucks. In 2003, this partnership claimed a goal of replacing their entire vehicle fleet with cleaner hybrids by 2013. However, as of 2009 they have only 325 of these vehicles (out of a vehicles fleet of 43,000) – comprising less than 1% of their fleet. None-the-less, Environmental Defense presents this partnership as one of examples success- and had provided invaluable greenwashing for FedEx- a company that is still relying on heavily polluting cars and trucks.

    “In the past few decades, we have seen many large well-funded environmental organizations become the minions of the worst polluters and it’s time to publicly account for these relationships. Whether they are taking direct corporate donations or entering into partnerships with an industry led alliance fighting against climate justice and progress, the Big “Greens” must begin to act in the best interest the planet and the people living on it, not corporate polluters.”

  6. Here is an email response that I received from Larry Schweiger, President & CEO of National Wildlife Federation:

    Chris,

    You have made the mistake of believing what is printed in the Nation magazine and responding to an organized attack on NWF. This article is so factually incorrect that its hard to know where to start. We were never even contacted before it was written and published.

    First, National Wildlife Federation does not take money from corporate polluters as the article suggests. Our revenue is predominately from individual donors, members, and we get some grants from foundations. In fact, less than one half of one percent of our total revenue comes from a handful of businesses (not corporate polluters) who have an affinity relationship with our educational programs.

    Secondly, I understand the urgency of the threat we face. In fact, I wrote a book about that very subject entitled “Last Chance-Preserving Life on Earth.” For a number of years, I have traveled all over the US carrying that message.

    Sadly, good journalism on the right and now on the left is waning. Truth doesn’t seem to matter much to those who write such things.

    Larry

    PS: Please read my recent editorial on corporate influence.

  7. NWF gave the template statement than EDF and many other US-based BINGOs. If those organizations want to take distance from EDF or TNC, they should openly disclose the sources of funding to the public including salaries and benefits of their staff.Their financial statements must reflects how much money is really alleviating poverty and climate justice abroad. How much stay in the US, how much has been sent to the poorest countries. Are contributors of BINGOs, affiliates, shareholders, employees, clients, carbon investors, oil, forestry, mining, cement, cadmium, lead, mercury, and or aluminum companies?
    Do not under estimate those conflict of interest in the NGO sector. A “Won’t take polluters money” policy in the website is just NOT enough. That is just “green” marketing.
    Let us know each person or entity who is funding your business class ticket New York-Asia (US$4,748); who pays for your Patagonia field trip clothing (US$2,300); your new Mac (US$2,900); the five star hotel your staying when you take “few days off” (US$2,600) in a developing country to prepare the four pages field work report requested by your donor.
    Indeed your visit was a costly 6-7 days field trip. Not to mention your huge carbon footprint. But who cares. You and your donor are happy. Both believe are saving the planet. Who can blame you. Everybody at BINGO’s is doing the same: Taking advantage of social needs and the guilt of people who profit from those countries where pollution and injustice occur. This is an excellent avenue to tell their grandchildren they support to save a cute little bear. Your lovely institutional pictures of communities at risk keep donors doors open. Indeed, you will never ask your donor to reduce his/her carbon footprint or help Americans to change their consumption patterns or lifestyle. That is a BINGO’s taboo An issue to be solved by politicians who are also working with the same lifestyles and mindset. Who can blame you. You are in the business of saving our one and only planet.

  8. Dear Sir/Madam,
    Namalere Forest & Environment Conservation Group is a registered community based organization, (CBO) in Bungoma South District, Kanduyi Division in the Western Province of Kenya. [ We got attracted in what you are dong hence our submission of our letter of Interest in your programs. Our organization is out to reduce De-afforestation to reduce global climate change and to reduce poverty by doing energy conservation and Educational Awareness to our Community people,do Research and try to Practically conserve our Forests through planting of Trees in our Community areas,in Schools,on the Watershed places etc,as one way of protecting our Biodiversity.we also make improved cooking stoves/jikos, we make briquettes from saw dust and charcoal wastes as an alternative to charcoal we have done research and visibility study, and plans are at the advanced level to start generating electricity from biogas/bagasse,we will use biodegrababl wastes of sugar, sewage, straw, wood chips, biogas which will provide community and the town of Bungoma with a renewable alternative to gas and coal for heating and electricity generation, and we will solve the sugar factories and municipalities of waste and sewage management
    The plant to be constructed will include a biogas production ,and a biomas combustion plant of 70 kms heating network which connects a proximately 900 households. the plant is expected to promote local energy-sufficient, reduce greenhouse gas emission and provide community with cheap, clean, reliable, responsible, accessible, and economically friendly to the local community
    Sir/Madam we’re writing to inquire more information of what you’re doing and if whether you can Partner/Network with us in the mentioned activities above, or be of any help / advice to our activities. We have photos of our activities for which we can submit to you if needed. Until then,
    Thanks and wish you best regards,
    hoping to read from you at your soonest
    Sincerely yours in service,
    John M. Ojwolo
    C.B.O Chairman/Founder

  9. @JOHN OJWOLO (#8) – This is not the first time that you’ve contacted REDD-Monitor about this project. REDD-Monitor’s previous email reply (dated 3 December 2010) is still relevant:

    REDD-Monitor is a website that comments on REDD developments. While your work sounds very interesting, REDD-Monitor does not have the capacity to support individual projects. In any case REDD-Monitor is not a funding organisation.