By Jason Hopkins
A surprising number of environmental organizations have investments tied to fossil fuel companies, sharply contradicting their demands to curtail the conventional energy industry.
In addition to stipulating the country forgo fossil fuels as a major source of energy, environmentalists have increasingly insisted various institutions undo any investments tied to oil and gas companies. Students and faculty around the world, for example, have demanded their universities divest from fossil fuels, arguing it’s an important component of battling climate change. The country’s biggest green energy advocates make the same arguments.
However, the leak of sensitive documents reveal big names in the environmentalist world to be heavily invested in the same industry they decry.
A number of environmental groups made investments in private equity firms that specialize in fossil fuels, according to data revealed in the Paradise Papers — a treasure drove of leaked documents exposing numerous offshore investments. The World Wildlife Fund, the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Washington are some of the nonprofits outed as having put money in “dirty” industries.
The World Wildlife Fund invested $2 million with Denham Capital, an international firm that focuses on gas and oil companies, the Paradise Papers show. WWF entered into a contract with Denham in 2008 that won’t expire until 2020. Not to be outdone, the American Museum of Natural History invested $5 million in Denham — even after showcasing exhibits that connected climate change to fossil fuels. The Museum is working on severing these investments and will no longer place its money into traditional energy companies, the institution claims.
“These industries, like all of America, are dependent on abundant, reliable, affordable energy. The revelations make it clear they tie their own future to the growth of America’s energy industry. It’s a just a shame they won’t admit it publicly,” Daniel Turner, the executive director of Power the Future, said to Inside Sources on Wednesday. “They say ‘put your money where your mouth is,’” he went on. “Their money is investing in America’s energy industry.” Power the Future is an organization aiming to counter environmentalist billionaires like Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg, who are spending their fortunes to put fossil fuel employees out of work.
Investments made through a private equity firm are hidden from the public, which is why investments made by these green groups were not reported until the release of the Paradise Papers. If the leak had never happened, many of these details would have remained secret.
The revelations showcase the difficulty in making a carbon neutral investment portfolio. The strong performances of many fossil fuel companies make it hard for equity firms — and their environmentalist clients — to ignore.
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