Environmental NGOs Profiting From Their Enemy: Oil & Gas Cos.
Environmental groups for years have fought oil and gas companies tooth and nail as polluters who put profits ahead of the health of the planet. But it looks more than a few NGOs are happy to fund and profit from the very same companies they criticize relentlessly.
One of the most recent “Panama Papers” investigations found that the World Wildlife Fund invested in a private equity fund with substantial oil and gas holdings.
“When I heard it, I was appalled and shocked,” said Gracie Brett, a rising senior at American University. She’s fighting to get her school to pull its investments out of fossil fuels and has volunteered with a number of environmental groups.
“I would be livid if I was giving my money and then found out it was going to something like that,” she told the I-Team.
In promotional videos on its website, World Wildlife Fund touts its public mission to combat climate change and its opposition to the fossil fuel industry.
“Oil companies want to drill for oil and gas deep beneath the sea bed. It’s a dreadful idea,” says a narrator in one video.
But the leaked documents show the DC-based WWF privately invested more than $2 million with Denham Capital, an international private equity firm that’s specialized in oil and gas, mining and energy investments.
“You’re literally handing money to polluters. That makes zero sense,” Brett said.
Given that there are serious questions about whether Russian government money is funding environmental NGOs, ordinary citizens need full transparency about where NGOs are getting their money and now — what they’re doing with it.
Any group that relies on public trust in its mission must be above reproach ethically, and that means no shortcuts. It’s telling that the World Wildlife Fund refused to go on camera with NBC News:
World Wildlife Fund declined our request to speak on camera. By phone, WWF told the News4 I-Team it started unloading its oil and gas investments five years ago, but found some, like the Denham fund, posed a greater challenge.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen environmental groups play fast and loose with finances. The Sierra Club took $25 million from the natural gas industry before it got called out for the hypocrisy.
As far was we’re concerned, taking extreme liberties with your donors’ money is as much of a vice as taking it from foreign governments interested in undermining Americans’ energy security.
No wonder WWF wants to stay out of the camera’s glare.