Rising Tide North America Statement on Influence of Corporate Polluters on Big “Greens” Groups

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.”

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