The WWF’s Vast Pool of Oil Money

April 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The World Wildlife Fund’s first corporate sponsor was Shell oil – which continued to fund it for the next four decades.

Remember the headline in The Independent that pointed an accusing finger: Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers (backup link)? And the Center for Media and Democracy’s claim that Oil Money Funds Climate Deniers and Attacks on Climate Scientists (backup). And CleanTechnica’s automatic assumption that any politician who accept donations from oil companies is therefore a “shill for oil & gas interests” (backup).

In the simple-minded, comic book world in which many environmentalists live there’s only one acceptable view about climate change – the one they themselves hold. Intelligent people couldn’t possibly have compelling reasons to see the world differently. There must be some (condescending and dehumanizing) explanation – one that allows skeptics to be peremptorily dismissed, to be banished to that category of social rejects who need not be taken seriously.

We must be stupid. Or mentally ill. Or brainwashed by FoxNews. Most offensively of all it’s said that we’re being paid by big, bad oil companies to express particular views.

Well if oil money is corrupt and evil – and if green activists really believe that those who take it are nefarious and untrustworthy – why are there no websites analogous to Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets about the very long, very close relationship that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has enjoyed with Shell (aka Royal Dutch Shell)?

I’m currently reading a 2011 book titled Saving the World’s Wildlife: WWF – the first 50 years. It was written with the cooperation of WWF officials, and the author was granted access to archives that are usually off-limits to the public. Here’s what this book says on page 145:

the conservative, upper-class naturalists who founded WWF [in 1961] did not have a problem with approaching oil companies for funding…WWF’s earliest corporate sponsor was the petrochemical giant Royal Dutch/Shell. In 1961 it gave WWF-UK the remarkable sum of £10,000.

In today’s world, that donation is equivalent to £418,000 – or 663,000 US dollars (see the historical calculator here).

On page 146 we read that John Loudon served as president of Shell for 15 years and then as president of WWF International for four years.

And on page 271 we’re told that the WWF began to “phase-out” fossil fuel funding from companies such as “BP, Shell and others” in the year 2000.

In other words, the WWF’s very first corporate sponsor was an oil company – one which wrote it an enormous cheque. The WWF then continued to accept oil money from various sources for another four decades.

So all that finger-pointing by green activists has no moral coherence. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

The truth of the matter is this: The environmental movement has been generously funded by oil companies for the past 50 years. Let it cast no stones at anyone else.

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See also my post Big Oil Money for Me, But Not for Thee

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Entry filed under: money & funding, NGOs, World Wildlife Fund. Tags: , , , .

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