Clean Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics: A Summary
By Neil Lock
(November 19th, 2023)
Last week, I was sent a link [] to a report entitled “Clean Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics.” It was written by investigative journalist Ben Pile for Together Declaration (of which I am a member) and Climate Debate UK []. The title of the report is “Clean Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics.”
What Ben Pile has done is “follow the money” from four very rich men, through various intermediaries, to a slew of green activist and supporter organizations, that are promoting policies hostile to us ordinary human beings. These policies are being carried out particularly in the areas of climate change and “net zero,” and “clean air” and ULEZ. The report is, to put it mildly, an interesting read.
One finding of this report, the funding of C40 Cities [], a climate and “clean air” activist network chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, by a UK billionaire named Christopher Hohn who also funds Extinction Rebellion, was taken up by the Daily Telegraph: []. The Daily Mail also covered the same story: [].
Since then, the mainstream media seem to have been silent about the report. This is not, perhaps, unsurprising. The message this report conveys is not the kind that the establishment would want to reach ordinary people in large numbers. At least it means that, since no-one has complained about any of the facts in the report, we can go ahead and assume that everything in it is true!
The report is 45 pages long. To someone like me, accustomed to reading hundreds of pages at a time of turgid government reports, this is a short document. But, in order to digest the import of this report more fully, I thought I would paraphrase some of the things Ben Pile has found, and what he has concluded. As well as adding a couple of tidbits I already knew from other sources. By publishing this, I hope I will save a few people a few hours’ work!
The main conclusions
The main conclusions of the report are presented on the first page. Ben Pile puts these as:
- Philanthropy has vastly exceeded any reasonable definition of ‘charitable giving.’
- The green movement follows this movement of big global political philanthropy.
- Air pollution policies such as ULEZ are proxy battles of the climate war.
- Philanthropy shapes academic research priorities.
- The public has been excluded from politics.
For the first four conclusions, he cites: Large grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to, among others, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) and to Imperial College London, at the centre of controversy over both COVID and ULEZ. Funding of climate change campaigns by billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Christopher Hohn. The involvement of C40 and UK 100 [], “a network of local leaders who have pledged to lead a rapid transition to Net Zero with Clean Air in their communities ahead of the government’s legal target,” in both net zero and air quality campaigns. And the funding of UK university departments active in the climate change and air pollution arenas, not only by the Gates foundation, but also by rich climate crusader Jeremy Grantham.
For the last, I will quote directly from the report. “Politicians’ own statements show that the green policy agenda represents a compact between government, ‘civil society,’ academia and big business. Experts that depart from the policy agenda are routinely excluded from the public debate by research agendas, editorial policy and cancel culture, depriving the public of debate about the costs and trade-offs of far-reaching policies. Green organisations have worked to form a cross-party consensus at all levels of government, pushing the public interest and democratic representation out of politics.” These are serious claims. And to those of us, like me, who ignore hype and simply look at the evidence, they are hard to disbelieve.
I will add here one personal comment. I find the use of the word “philanthropy” to be over-generous. These supposed philanthropists are using their wealth, not for the benefit of all members of the human species, but to foster political agendas like net zero and ULEZ, which are not only unjustified by honest science, but also hostile to the interests of ordinary human beings. And, most of all, to the interests of older and poorer people.
Some good points made
Ben Pile goes on to make some good general points about the situation we find ourselves in.
Page 4: “Rather than opening discussions with local populations, objections have been ignored on the basis of arguments and evidence provided to them by lobbying and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and academic researchers, many of whom have been active in policy design, implementation and campaigning.”
Page 6: He shows, from historical data, “very reliable evidence that claims about an ‘air pollution crisis’ are unfounded.”
Page 17: “A longstanding and extremely cosy and undemocratic relationship between CSOs and policymakers.” In which, “the public’s views on the far-reaching policies that will be imposed on them are rarely a consideration for technocrats, CSOs and politicians.”
But it is when, starting around page 10, he begins to document some of the specific money flows, that Ben Pile shows his true skills as an investigator.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made “substantial grants to media organisations and CSOs, and to organisations acting under the pretext of ‘countering misinformation’.” It has made large grants (£54m total) to BBC Media Action, formerly the BBC World Service Trust. As well as to the BBC as a whole, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Financial Times and others. Not all of these recipients are objective or unbiased! (Understatement of the day).
Michael Bloomberg, as well as being a former chair of C40, has been very active in pushing “Environmental, Social and Governance” policies in the USA. And he has been a big funder of the WHO. An agency of the UN, the main driver of the green agenda. And one which, given its seeming desire to eliminate air pollution regardless of the costs, and its desire to force its own centralized views on health and pandemic strategy on to everyone in the world, clearly does not have at heart the interests of us human beings.
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) [], the main vehicle for Christopher Hohn’s apparent philanthropy, is not only of note as a major funder of C40. It also used to employ Rishi Sunak, current prime minister. And Shirley Rodrigues, Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor of London, who has tried to suppress, or to get changed the conclusions of, scientific reports, used to work at a very senior level in CIFF.
Moreover, Ben Goldsmith, Tory candidate for Mayor of London in the 2016 election, is a Trustee of CIFF. There was no choice at all at that “election” for those opposed to green policies, since both main candidates were rabid greens! (As were Boris Johnson, the previous Mayor, and Ken Livingstone, his predecessor). Democracy? Not.
Ben Pile also documents “pass-through” organizations, such as the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and the Clean Air Fund (CAF). In both cases, the largest single funder is Christopher Hohn.
The Conservative Environment Network
One series of most interesting grants from the Clean Air Fund, totalling $160k over three years, is to the Conservative Environment Network (CEN). This organization includes many MPs []: indeed, half or perhaps even more of current Tory MPs. Names on the list include:
- George Eustice, a former secretary of state for the Environment.
- George Freeman, current under-secretary of state for Science, Research and Innovation. And custodian of the “Strategic Priorities Fund,” which funds the government’s “Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air Programme.”
- Chris Grayling, a former secretary of state for Transport.
- Matt Hancock.
- Mark Harper, current minister of state for Transport. Who claimed that he “did not have the power” to stop the recent ULEZ expansion.
- Jeremy Hunt, current Chancellor.
- Robert Jenrick, who was involved in Michael Gove’s meeting with Extinction Rebellion in April 2019.
- Kwasi Kwarteng, former Chancellor.
- Alok Sharma, chair of the CoP26 meeting in Glasgow, and keeper of two diesel SUVs at the time.
Jeremy Grantham founded the Grantham Institute at Imperial College, London, well known as a hotbed of climate activism.
Another part of Imperial, the Environmental Research Group (ERG) [], while seemingly separated from the Grantham Institute, hosts several academics who are, and have been for some years, involved with COMEAP (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution), the government’s supposedly independent advisors on air pollution and health. And its director and former COMEAP chair, Frank Kelly, has been very active in the cause of ULEZ, even going so far as to help Shirley Rodrigues doctor the narrative over a scientific paper.
Another Grantham funded institute at the London School of Economics is chaired by Nicholas Stern, author of the 2006 report that attempted (and, objectively, failed) to justify UK action on climate change, yet was still used to push forward the climate change bill.
Ben Pile concludes his report by making the following points:
- It is clear from our survey of philanthropic foundations that very few of the very many CSOs active in climate change would exist at all were it not for grants by a very small number of billionaires.
- Air pollution campaigning in the UK represents just a small part of that enterprise but is entirely dominated by the same philanthropic foundations and CSOs.
- The sudden development of interest in air pollution in the 2010s is better explained by the coordinated strategy of global CSOs being driven by philanthropic organisations, than by a spontaneous change in public opinion or in science.
I will repeat once more what I said near the beginning: The message this report conveys is not the kind that the establishment would want to reach ordinary people in large numbers.