Behind the Scenes of Climate (Industry) Week - Climate Litigation Watch

Behind the Scenes of Climate (Industry) Week

This week New York City will host a five-day spectacle called “Climate Week”, with spillover in various cities including Washington, DC (Climate Week being about a political agenda). This annual affair begun in the first year of President Obama’s tenure coincides with the United Nations General Assembly session. This year, Secretary General António Guterres declared even more urgency and will host an additional “climate summit”. Several U.S. governors will make political appeals. Media coverage is widespread and enthusiastic.

Reporters continue to shy away from Climate Week’s increasingly dominant theme, manifested in placards such as “Smash Capitalism” and “Capitalism is killing the planet: Fight for a Socialist Future”. The “narrative” is instead one of ecological sin, with the little people attempting to minister global salvation against the desires of rich and powerful forces.

However, public records show that Climate Week is a production of a sprawling climate industry, underwritten by some exceedingly rich and powerful forces.

Consider the tsunami of slick cover stories profiling Swedish teen advocate Greta Thurnberg’s journey to address the UN “summit”. This is the climate savant who arrived on a modest wind-, solar- and hydrogen-powered yacht first christened by one of the banking de Rothschild family.

“Greta” coverage dovetailed with a grossly distorted if impressively coordinated message about the disappearing Amazon rainforest. This buildup led to the de rigueur leak of a draft UN report forecasting doom — worse than previously thought! — should we fail to listen to Greta.

Climate Week is a project of some of the wealthiest names in the United States, including Bloomberg, Hewlett and Rockefeller. In fact, Climate Week is part of an industry into which activist “foundations are currently spending over $1 billion a year on climate work”.

That appraisal came in an October 2017 email among staff for governors Jerry Brown (D-CA)(since retired), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Jay Inslee (D-WA). Brown aide Dan Carol laid out the budget for off-books climate consultants to assist with policy implementation and advocacy.

Cautioning his colleagues with the preamble, “Before you gasp”, Carol circulated a proposal for $30 million in private funding to staff up governors’ climate activism in 2019, and $50 million in the all-important election year 2020. Carol assured his colleagues this budget was justifiable given just how much foundations are already spending.

Anyway, as Brown aide Aimee Barnes wrote to Inslee’s office, “it can’t always be us staff” doing the work of staff. Fortunately, she continued, “there are many resources keen to be at our disposal to support us further”.

Their vehicle created for the task is the “United States Climate Alliance” (USCA), which projects a major presence at this year’s Climate Week. It actually doesn’t exist in any formal sense – legal counsel to Gov. Cuomo suggested creating a corporate entity, to help fend off open records requests. Because staff ignored that advice we know that, for a group that doesn’t exist, USCA has an awful lot of staff, led by an Executive Director coordinating numerous consultants and “pass-throughs”.

USCA and its off-books workforce was midwifed by the Hewlett Foundation, which provided at least the first $1.5 million to get USCA running. Hewlett also directly arranged for glossy, supportive reports costing on average $100,000 each for governors to roll out (including at Climate Week), and a non-profit PR firm called Climate Nexus. Staffing and what governors’ aides called the “back office/support role” are managed by a 501(c)3 non-profit, Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation.

In his budget slide show, Carol noted these millions would mostly be “passed through to consortium partners”. A “Budget Worksheet” lists among these the American Lung Association, Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) and Center for a New Energy Economy.

Both entities appear prominently in recent public record productions detailing preparation for this year’s Climate Week. For example, both joined Michael Northrup of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund inviting governors’ staff “to an off-the-record discussion on meeting the increasingly ambitious climate goals” at the John D. Rockefeller mansion at Pocantico, New York. RBF circulated detailed memoranda and paid for the staffers’ airfare — run through Georgetown.

Recent record productions show that the non-existent USCA also somehow has a program to directly place donor-funded “staff” in governors’ offices to implement the climate agenda. This is similar to a now notorious program, underwritten by Michael Bloomberg, placing privately hired “Special Assistant Attorneys General” to prosecute the climate agenda.

These relationships and the larger industry behind Climate Week warrant further scrutiny, and, dedicated to chronicling this industry and its machinations. As we await such an accounting, the public deserve to know the role played by activist donors in orchestrating this use of public office.