The copyrighted, registered trademark
by Gaius Publius
of the World Wildlife Fund
If you support the World Wildlife Fund (internationally named the "World Wide Fund for Nature"), consider stopping. They call this "greenwashing," something WWF is familiar with (see below). Thanks are due to the White House
, which made the news very public in another piece of TPP puffery (my emphasis throughout):
What They're Saying: Environmental Advocates Point to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a Historic Opportunity to Protect Our Oceans, Forests, and Wildlife
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) offers a substantial opportunity to advance American interests and values, including a once-in-a-generation chance to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the environment.
The Asia-Pacific Region and TPP parties encompass some of the world’s most ecologically significant regions, are home to major markets for wildlife and wildlife products, and include eight of the top 20 fishing nations, together accounting for a quarter of global marine catch and seafood exports. Taking action in the region is of critical importance given that five of the TPP parties are among the world’s 17 “mega-diverse” countries, a group covering less than 10 percent of the earth’s area, but supporting more than 70 percent of the earth’s species plant and animal species. ...
They forgot to add, "TPP, this time with jobs." How do we know the above is just puffery, just the sell? Because the day the jobs show up, enforceable environmental protections will show up too. Meaning never.
That doesn't mean the race has ceased, however, to snooker the public — and many Congress members — into thinking that somehow TPP is a "progressive" answer
to the world's ills. That race has just begun. From the same White House puff piece come quotes from "respected" (meaning big-name) presumed-left organizations. We can ignore CAP, for example; they're known–neo-liberal, known–"free" market. But there are some interesting names in the "Yes to TPP" list, starting with the World Wildlife Fund.
The World Wildlife Fund Is Selling TPP
The World Wildlife Fund, the "Panda" organization, is selling TPP? Apparently so:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of those potentially game-changing solutions. The TPP is a trade agreement designed to promote economic growth by enhancing trade and investment among twelve TPP partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the United States… It's not often that large-scale opportunities arise to help protect our planet. And surprisingly enough, the TPP, if it is done right, can offer a valuable way forward.
-- Carter Roberts, World Wildlife Fund, in Conserving Nature Is Good Trade Policy February 28, 2014
I wonder what they got in exchange.
Let's look at this more closely. You probably think the people at WWF are the good guys, right? They're the good guys only in the sense that methane is climate-friendly — they're "good" by branding (the panda is well chosen) plus a modicum of good deeds. In methane's case, the branding is the word "clean" in "clean energy" and the modicum is, "We're deadly to the climate, but less so than coal."
In WWF's case, the modicum is, "We take lots of corporate cash and make them look great for giving it. Then we do some good." Do they do other favors as well? Skip back to the top and read that TPP endorsement again:
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of those potentially game-changing solutions...."
I wonder if he was handed those words. TPP is a "solution," but only if the problem is not enough corporate profit
. According to the White House, other "humane" organizations backing TPP include The Humane Society
and Nature Conservancy
. Good to know — include them on your don't-donate list as well.
Is WWF Too Corporate to Be Trusted?
There's a lot to expose in the world of big-money "Big Green
" organizations. But let's stick with WWF. Here are just a few tastes of what people who've dug into these issues have to say. Click the links for more. Let's start with Wikipedia
(footnotes in the source):
WWF has been accused by the campaigner Corporate Watch of being too close to businesses to campaign objectively. WWF claims partnering with corporations such as Coca-Cola, Lafarge, Carlos Slim's and IKEA will reduce their impact on the environment. WWF received €56 million (US$80 million) from corporations in 2010 (an 8% increase in support from corporations compared to 2009), accounting for 11% of total revenue for the year.
Keep Coca-Cola in mind. More from Wikipedia:
The German public television ARD aired a documentary on 22 June 2011 that claimed to show how the WWF cooperates with corporations such as Monsanto, providing sustainability certification in exchange for donations – i.e. greenwashing. WWF has denied the allegations. By encouraging high-impact eco-tourism, the program alleges that WWF contributes to the destruction of habitat and species it claims to protect. WWF-India is not active at the tiger reserve given as the example, but it is active elsewhere seeking to limit adverse tourism impacts and better sharing of tourism benefits to local communities. The program also alleges WWF certified a palm oil plantation operated by Wilmar International, a Singaporean company, on the Indonesian island of Borneo, even though the establishment of the plantation led to the destruction of over 14,000 hectares of rainforest. Only 80 hectares were ultimately conserved, the ARD documentary claims. ...
See what I mean about a modicum of good? WWF is likely touting the 80 hectares they saved, not the 14,000 they didn't — 'cause you "can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (The "good" in this case includes the next corporate donation.)
WWF and Coca-Cola
Now about Coca-Cola. Here's what kind of branding that corporate "investment" purchases
, from the WWF website:
WWF and the Coca-Cola Company Team Up to Protect Polar Bears
[The cold Arctic] landscape – which spans eight countries, including the United States – is also one of the most important areas for keeping the Earth’s climate system stable and a key indicator of the state of global well-being. Major ecological changes are taking place here at a faster and more dramatic rate than anywhere else in the world. Warmer temperatures are rapidly melting summer sea ice, which will likely all but disappear within a generation. The survival of ice-dependent species like the polar bear hinges on our ability to protect their last viable habitats.
... In addition to our freshwater conservation efforts, WWF and The Coca-Cola Company joined forces to help protect the polar bear and its habitat. Building upon Coca-Cola’s support since 2007 of WWF’s polar bear conservation efforts, we launched the Arctic Home Campaign in North America during the 2011 holiday season to raise widespread awareness and funds for these efforts. Due to the success and inspiration generated by Arctic Home in North America in its initial year, the program was expanded to 17 countries in Europe in winter 2012/2013.
Through Arctic Home, WWF has been able to engage in research in the high Arctic above Canada and Greenland, where it is believed that summer sea ice will persist the longest. WWF also is collecting important information on the Arctic ecosystem and working with Arctic residents and governments to develop a conservation plan in this “Last Ice Area.” ...
What's WWF doing with the gift that Coke gives them? They're giving the world the gift of "raised awareness," plus research into helping polar bears find the last summer ice (before there is none). Can you think of a better climate use of a half billion dollars, WWF's 2010 revenue
? I think I can — starting with portfolio divestment
What does Coke get in return? A great new ad campaign, this time with bears:
Somewhere in there is a panda and a polar bear
Of course, the real
Coca-Cola company is these guys, the "death squads for union leaders
" people (do click; it's a shocker). Maybe WWF could raise Coke's awareness about murder to protect profit.
What Does "Greenwashing" Mean?
Greenwashing is when non-profit environment-friendly organizations like NRDC or WWF give "green" ground cover — essentially a paint job, as the name suggests — to corporate malefactors in exchange for corporate money. The corporations get unalloyed credibility in the eyes of the public and diminished pressure to stop doing wrong. (Click the Coke link above to see the start of what they do wrong.)
For the "green" organizations, however, the money ties their hands. Ultimately most become enablers in the destruction they think they're preventing. Groups like NRDC, for example, are enablers for the fracking and methane industry. More examples
The crimes of Shell were elucidated to the world by the resistance of people, mainly indigenous, doing the day to day dying in the Niger Delta; the people giving them awards were the WWF. The crimes of fracking operators in the United States northeast were highlighted by farmers and ranchers who needed the water and noticed it was catching on fire and their skin was burning right off of their bones, the people telling us we need natural gas from fracking have been the NRDC. The destruction of the tar sands in Canada is most well known because of indigenous refusal to disappear from history to cancer and the destruction of their traditional forests; those who want us to work with Shell and Suncor run the David Suzuki Foundation.
For the corporations, this is gold, like using the Olympics to make themselves look like a force for good, except this time they're using sympathetic polar bears instead. If you want to read more about "greenwashing" and corporate and foundation capture in the post-Reagan environmentalist era, start here
. It's a sad story, but worth knowing about. It's one reason individual contributors don't get much bang for their Big Green donation buck.
What Else Does Corporate Funding Buy?
Which brings us back to the question at the start: What do WWF, The Humane Society and Nature Conservancy get in return for their clearly well-orchestrated "greenwashing" of TPP? Hard to say exactly, since we don't get a seat in meetings where quid
match up. But it's almost illegal for a corporation to spend stockholder money and not get a monetizable reward. And when it comes to TPP, the White House and most major CEOs are all over it
. So we're left to guess, or maybe just watch as the non-profits' annual statements roll out. But the TPP endorsement statement is so obviously false, I'd bet they got something
in exchange for it.
But however it happened, that nice corporate-connected panda at the top of this piece is all for TPP, meaning she's all for jobs in China. Ironic, that.
But profit-supplied do-gooder money has to come from somewhere. What better symbol of TPP than the Panda and the place our traded-out jobs will be sent to?
Labels: Coca-Cola, corporate governance, Gaius Publius, Trans-Pacific Partnership, WWF