Opinion by Michelle Stirling ©2018
Michelle Stirling is Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society
On July 10, 2018, David Suzuki launched a blistering attack against Friends of Science Society and a handful of other groups, like the tiny Rally4Resources, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and other groups made up of out-of-work oil patch employees and their supporters – most of whom advocate for common sense in support for the Canadian energy industry and rational economic policies. Dr. Suzuki claimed that we and others were a fake front “astroturf” for oil interests, not grassroots at all and our connections should be ‘uprooted.’
This is an absurd claim in context because Friends of Science Society operates as a non-profit on a member-funded budget of about $150,000 a year compared to that of the tax-subsidized David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) charity which has $19 million in assets. Friends of Science has no Ottawa lobbyists – DSF has several. Suzuki Fund also has an endowment fund that earns them some $600,000 a year in interest, and Vivian Krause reports that DSF has reportedly received millions in funding from offshore billionaire philanthropies. If Big Oil is funding us, as Dr. Suzuki claims, they are very cheap.
Let’s uproot Suzuki’s corporate roots. They go way back to the days of Elaine Dewar’s 1995 book “Cloak of Green” – a meticulously researched tome that traces the connections between big corporations, big green and big government. Suzuki was saving rainforests at the time while hobnobbing with various large corporate interests, as Dewar reported. Puzzled, she followed the money. Don’t let me give away the spoiler.
By contrast to the David Suzuki Fund, our group started off in 2002 as a self-funded retirement project for several earth, atmospheric and solar scientists. They used to meet in someone’s basement to share thoughts on various peer-reviewed science papers around the time of the Kyoto Accords. Our founders opposed Kyoto on scientific and economic grounds.
As Enron documents ultimately revealed, Kyoto was not about saving the planet – it was all about the money to be made in emissions trading. Today, Enron lives on through ENGOs and the various corporate/institutional investor interests that fund them.
As most Canadians know, David Suzuki Foundation and Dr. Suzuki himself have been on the front lines of blocking oil pipelines in Canada. So, it is certainly curious that one of the board members of the David Suzuki Fund is a senior person with the Desjardins group. Desjardins is one of the financiers of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Desjardins often does joint ventures with Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec.
“Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, Canada’s second-largest pension fund, last month disclosed holdings of 10.2 million shares in Kinder Morgan Canada, making it the largest investor outside of its parent company”
According to an article in Medium, Caisse de Depot et Placement has invested a lot of money into Power Corporation.
Suzuki Fund and Dr. Suzuki himself have been virulent opponents of the pipeline. Why would such organizations continue to fund an ENGO that is vociferously blocking one of their own investments?
DSF and Dr. Suzuki himself are loud advocates of wind farms. Power Corporation, listed as the 358th largest corporation in the world by Forbes in 2017, reported in its 2017 CDP report that it had been funding DSF since 2007 and had extended that funding to 2020 (amount unstated). DSF submitted a large wind proposal to the Alberta Climate Panel (#398) in 2015.
Et voila! Power Corporation subsidiaries are building a wind farm in Jenner, Alberta.
Another DSF board member is a CEO with a subsidiary of OMERS – Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – which is one of Canada’s defined benefit pension plans with $95 billion in net assets (Dec. 31, 2017). When recently asked if OMERS might be interested in buying Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to take it off the federal government’s hands, the answer was maybe.
So, why would their sponsored green social influencer, David Suzuki Fund, be blocking a KinderMorgan pipeline when Caisse de Depot is already a major investor in the company and an investee of one of DSF’s long-term funders? Is this a way to force a ‘saviour’ project for the new Infrastructure Bank of Canada, a bank we believe to be fraught with conflicts of interests.
At the recent G7 meeting, OMERS and Desjardins were there as sponsors, with five other big pension funds, all pushing gender, opportunities for women in finance, and of course, climate risk disclosure. We see the push for climate risk disclosure as destructive to the Canadian economy and have written the Ontario Securities Commission about it.
Was Friends of Science Society represented at the G7? Canadian Taxpayers Federation? Rally4Resources? Unemployed oil workers? No. Only the multi-billion-dollar institutional investors who are climate obsessed and driven to foist climate risk reporting on all corporations. Why? Because this reporting becomes a great lever for also forcing corporations into cap and trade and renewables, the ultimate objective of a global project by ClimateWorks billionaires. Never mind that no one ever authorized these unelected, unaccountable billionaire funds to interfere in national domestic climate and energy policies. Starting over a decade ago, they just simply funded an assortment of ENGOs to the tune of some $600 million a year world-wide to agitate locally for climate and energy policy changes. It’s all here in these Wikileaks documents and their own plan on line “Design to Win.”
As ‘eco-pragmatist’ Ted Nordhaus writes in Foreign Affairs, the Paris Agreement 2°C target that David Suzuki is always rattling on about is a delusion. He also puts Suzuki’s notion of Friends of Science as an industry front to bed with this rational thinking.
“Climate advocates have persistently blamed the failures of climate policy on the corrupting political power of the fossil fuel industry. Industry-funded “merchants of doubt,” as the historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway originally dubbed them, together with heavy political spending, have stopped climate mitigation efforts in their tracks. But those claims are U.S.-centric. Climate skepticism and denial have not found anywhere close to the same level of political traction outside the United States. Exxon and the Koch brothers have no political franchise in the German Bundestag, the Chinese Central Committee, or most other places outside Washington. And yet those nations have had no more success cutting emissions than has the United States. To the contrary, U.S. emissions have fallen faster than those of almost any other major economy over the last decade.
The alternate explanation is rather less dramatic. Decarbonization is hard. Fossil fuels continue to bring substantial benefit to most people around the world, despite the significant environmental consequences.” (bold added)
In the meantime, institutional investors like OMERS and corporate bodies like Power Corp, will continue to rake in guaranteed, subsidized 20-40 year profits and other benefits from wind and solar farms, by backing ENGOs who demand “climate action” through fear-mongering.
The following claim by Suzuki is the ultimate in fake news:
“The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) may have been our last chance for a meaningful agreement to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy before ongoing damage to the world’s climate becomes irreversible and devastating.”
Recent climate science shows that most of the warming since 1950 has been driven by natural forces. Carbon dioxide is not the control knob that can control climate. As Canadian climate scientist Dr. Madhav Khandekar explains, the uncertainties that were evident in greenhouse gas induced climate change in 2000 are still the same today.
As Google engineers found out, renewable wind and solar do not address climate change and cannot compete with affordable coal. As Ireland found out, adding more wind to the grid radically increases costs and does not reduce carbon dioxide – so it’s not a planet-saving solution (if you are one who is convinced that carbon dioxide is the problem). As Prof Michael J. Kelly of Cambridge explains, it is total madness to keep building wind and solar farms because neither can support even basic society. As the IEA reports, the world runs on fossil fuels and will do so for many decades. Only Canada is being cut out of the global market.
The Competition Bureau just posted on their twitter feed, social media influencers like David Suzuki (ranked #140 in the world) should “clearly disclose material connections, disclose connections in each post, ensure that the representations aren’t false or misleading, verify that influencers aren’t making performance claims – unless based on adequate and proper testing.”
We did the due diligence on David Suzuki Fund’s claims about renewables. As Google engineers found out, renewable is not so doable.
Time to uproot the rot at ENGOs astrotufing for corporate, institutional investor and offshore billionaire agendas. No need for Canadians to become modern-day serfs to large pension funds with gold-plated benefits for everyone but you.
Our report: “Due Diligence on Renewable Demands by David Suzuki Foundation.”