Back in 2004, Wilburforce Foundation stipulated that the purpose of funding the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) was to protect the region “from oil and gas development, through an advocacy campaign that focuses on grizzly bears and critical wildlife habitat,” tax returns say. Since then, the Wilburforce foundation has granted more than US$25 million to environmental and First Nations organizations in Western Canada.
The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society runs an intense campaign to place the Peel watershed off-limits to industrial development. By my analysis of the budgets for the “Protect the Peel” campaign, more than 90 per cent of the funding for the Peel campaign is from U.S. sources, including $600,000 for legal fees. A similar funding trend is playing out in British Columbia’s Great Barrier Rainforest.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation are said to be the world’s biggest financial supporters of efforts to mitigate climate change. These foundations, both created by the founders of the tech giant Hewlett-Packard, have assets of US$7 billion and US$5 billion. Indeed, the environmental groups funded by these foundations are tapping into deep green pockets.
The Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation have also provided substantial funding to shape U.S. energy policy and foster U.S. energy security.
Along with the Rockefeller Brothers and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation provided more than US$100 million for the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest on the north coast of B.C., a no trade zone twice the size of Switzerland.
In the name of protecting the Kermode bear, a rare, blonde bear known to First Nations as the spirit bear, the Tar Sands Campaign seeks to block oil tanker traffic off B.C.’s entire north coast, and yet the traditional habitat of the Kermode bear is only a small fraction of this area. In effect, the Great Bear Rainforest has become the Great Trade Barrier to Asia.
The Tar Sands Campaign pointedly ignores the dozens of tankers bringing foreign oil into the United States and Eastern Canada on a daily basis. Evidently, the only tankers this campaign opposes are those that would break the U.S. market’s monopoly on Canadian oil exports. The lead organization in the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative is the Tides Foundation, the same organization that co-ordinates the Tar Sands Campaign. It is interesting to note that during the same years that Tides began spearheading this initiative, the U.S. Tides Foundation was also running the Apollo Alliance, a significant project to promote renewable energy and enhance U.S. energy security.
As far as I can tell, the only country where there is a systematic, multimillion-dollar, foreignfunded campaign to choke the oil industry is Canada.
The Pembina Foundation and the Pembina Institute have received nearly US$7 million from American foundations, including six that fund the Tar Sands Campaign. Some of Pembina’s grants are revealing. For example, in 2006 and 2007 the Rockefeller Brothers Fund paid Pembina US$100,000 “to prevent the development of a pipeline and tanker port that endangers the Great Bear Rainforest protected area.”
At least six organizations in the U.S., the U.K. and in Belgium are receiving U.S. funds to push for the European Fuel Quality Directive that would stigmatize Albertan oil.
In Europe, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leadership Group are all funded to some degree by the European Climate Foundation, but the amounts these organizations receive is not publicly reported.
But in North Dakota and Texas where oil production is booming, there is no multimillion-dollar campaign to stop or slow down the oil industry. As far as I can tell, the only country where there is a systematic, multimillion-dollar, foreign-funded campaign to choke the oil industry is Canada. Whether intentional or not, environmental activism is becoming a new form of protectionism. By exaggerating risks and impacts, activists exert such political and social pressure that major infrastructure projects can be stalled or stopped altogether, land-locking Canadian oil and gas and keeping Canada over a barrel.