The European Union has been handing out grants to environmentalist groups since 1997. New research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance today shows just how much the different groups have received. The European Environmental Bureau, an umbrella group for a number of the others who are funded directly, has received nearly €11 million. More familiar names funded under the LIFE+ programme include Friends of the Earth Europe, which has received over €7m million, and the European Policy Office of the World Wildlife Fund, which has received nearly €8 million.
The European Union isn’t the only government to hand taxpayers’ money over to the environmentalists. But they are particularly shameless. When DEFRA funds the radical left New Economics Foundation for example, they at least pretend the £58,308 project to commission a report titled Moments of change as opportunities for influencing behaviour is a serious piece of research, though it looked to Communist Cuba for examples of ‘effective government-led intervention.’ The European Union proudly boasts about how LIFE+ is intended to support groups ‘involved in the development and implementation of Community policy and legislation.’ In other words: lobbying and campaigning.
What do these groups spend our money lobbying and campaigning for? Higher taxes and more draconian regulations. The European Environmental Bureau has branded the Polish Government ‘short-sighted’ for opposing a unilateral move to a 30 per cent target for emissions reductions that would cost British families billions. They have also called for minimum rates of fuel duty. And, while the EU Member States are struggling to revive their stricken economies, CEE Bank Watch promotes ‘climate-friendly development that is not driven by economic growth per se.’
I don’t think that is the kind of agenda that you could convince many European taxpayers to support. But politicians spending other people’s money clearly see grants for environmentalist groups as a convenient way of creating the illusion that there is a genuine groundswell of opinion behind their ever more ambitious climate policy.
It makes all the complaints from the same groups yesterday with their #endfossilfuelsubsidies ‘Twitter storm’ even more ironic. Not only are they complaining about fossil fuel subsidies that are overwhelmingly paid in countries like Iran and China, while in Britain the subsidy junkies are the wind farms and solar panels they promote so aggressively. They are themselves propped up with money taken from taxpayers with no say in the matter.
Matthew Sinclair is Director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.