The Financial Power Behind the Environmental Movement: the Case of Germany

A lengthy, detailed expose of the powerful lobby groups that work closely with the German government on legislation targeting industry, energy, and agriculture was run in the April 25 issue of Welt am Sonntag, under the title “Goliaths for the Climate”. Far from the grassroots groups of concerned citizens of the past, these are institutions that receive huge funding from rich family foundations as well as from governments themselves.

They enjoy seats at the table of government advisory councils, contrary to representatives of major industries which are the most affected by “environmental” legislation.

A few examples for Germany: over the period 2020–2023, NABU, a conservationist NGO, is slated to receive some €47 million of government funds; the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research over €25 million; the WWF over €16 million; the Mercator Climate Council over €5 million; the nature protection association BUND €7.5 million; and the Climate Analytics team €1.6 million. In addition, the think tank Agora Energiewende is to be allocated nearly €2 million from the Environment Ministry.

To that must be added substantial international funding: the Hewlett and Rockefeller family foundations are funders of the European Climate Foundation in The Hague which plays a key role between the EU and national governments, notably that of Berlin. The director of the ECF until 2018 was Caio Koch-Weser, formerly with the World Bank, then assistant German Finance Minister and vice chairman of Deutsche Bank, a person deeply embedded in the international financial elite. The Mercator Foundation also funds the ECF. In terms of street-level activists, the Fridays for Future movement receives funds from the U.S.-based Climate Emergency Fund, among others.

This is not just about energy or saving the climate. There is a concerted drive in Germany to make sure that the next German government is led by a Green Party chancellor.

Feeding into that drive for „regime change“ is a ruling of the German Constitutional Court in favor of legal complaints filed by various environmental groups, including the Fridays for Future movement. The plaintiffs argue that the measures provided for in the 2019 climate protection law do not go far enough.The law requires Germany to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, but does not specify what measures need to be taken after that in order to meet the stated goal of nearly 0% by 2050. According to the Court ruling, that places an unacceptable burden on future generations, thereby infringing upon their freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution.

In response , the government promptly promised to correct the legislation before the national elections are held on Sept.
26. This has given a strong boost to the Greens, as reflected in the most recent opinion polls giving them a slight lead over the CDU-CSU.

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