- Numerous American liberal elites bankroll the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) with tax-deductible donations, which CEF uses to fund an international network of climate activist groups known for disruptive protest tactics.
- CEF has funded 106 organizations since its inception in 2019, and shelled out more than $5 million in grants to its activist network in 2022 alone, according to the nonprofit’s 2022 annual report.
- “Their purpose is to scare middle-class voters into voting for more regulation and suppression, which allows their very wealthy funders to buy up more land for their portfolios,” Elizabeth Nickson, author of the book “Eco-Fascists,” said of the activists and their funders to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Dozens of wealthy American liberals fund a nonprofit organization that is a major backer of green activist groups using radical and often law-breaking tactics to draw attention to what they see as a “climate emergency.”
Founded in 2019 by Aileen Getty and Rory Kennedy, sister of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) aims to “support disruptive climate activism, because [it believes] it is the fastest way to create transformative change,” according to CEF’s website and its 2022 annual report. Its donors are a “who’s who” of wealthy liberal elites, including Hollywood writer Adam McKay, former Harvey Weinstein lawyer Lisa Bloom, “Succession” star Jeremy Strong and Hillary Clinton’s Onward Together foundation, according to CEF’s 2022 annual report.
Since its establishment, CEF has bankrolled at least 106 different activism groups, training over 30,000 activists and mobilizing an additional 1 million protesters, according to its website. CEF’s 2022 annual report states that the organization dished out over $5 million in grants to 44 grantees across 34 countries, mobilizing about 45,000 activists.
Many of these groups, including Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, engage in “direct action” protests where activists block highways, shut down airports, throw soup on priceless displays and engage in other headline-grabbing acts in order to push society towards rapidly ditching fossil fuels.
“They are trying to make normal people think that climate change is a dire emergency, but it isn’t,” Elizabeth Nickson, author of the book “Eco-Fascists,” told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Their purpose is to scare middle-class voters into voting for more regulation and suppression, which allows their very wealthy funders to buy up more land for their portfolios.”
Getty, Kennedy and McKay all sit on CEF’s board of directors, and longtime climate activist Bill McKibben serves as an advisory board member, according to the 2022 annual report. CEF promotes its aim to “provide a safe, legal, tax-deductible way to support the boldest activism,” according to its 2022 annual report.
“We fund climate activists who treat climate change like the emergency it is,” CEF Executive Director Margaret Klein Salamon said in a statement to the DCNF. “Our grants support only legal activities, and all the groups we fund are strictly non-violent. We are proud to support brave, highly effective climate activists,” she added.
Salamon previously told The New York Times that CEF exclusively funds legal activities, like training and recruitment costs. CEF grantees must confirm that they are only using the funds for legal activities, according to the NYT, but CEF did not provide specific details of that confirmation process to the DCNF.
However, law-breaking and civil disobedience are central to the missions of many of the groups CEF has funded over the years, including the U.K.-based activist group Just Stop Oil.
“The disruption has to break laws in order to get the attention of the media and to pressure the governments,” a Just Stop Oil spokesperson told the DCNF. “Time and again, we see that public disruption is necessary to spark the conversations that result in much needed political pressure.”
Members of other CEF-backed groups routinely break the law and get arrested while conducting “direct-action”-style protests. Their tactics tend to interrupt everyday life for ordinary citizens and target high-impact cultural events and locations, including professional sporting events and art museums. (RELATED: UN Declaration Calls For As Much As $10 Trillion A Year To Meet Climate Goals)
Just Stop Oil exemplifies the tactics and targets selected by CEF-backed groups: their activists have disrupted the British Open golf tournament, interrupted play at the Wimbledon tennis tournament and stormed the field at a cricket match in the U.K., according to its website. Their activists have also attempted to throw soup at a van Gogh painting in a Paris museum, but authorities stopped them before they were able to launch the soup, according to Artnet.
Just Stop Oil activists are also known for blocking roads and stopping traffic during the rush hour, often to the dismay of inconvenienced motorists trying to go about their days. British authorities arrested 21 Just Stop Oil protesters who blocked rush hour traffic on July 17 around London, according to the Evening Standard.
British lawmakers passed tougher anti-protest laws in May 2023 in the wake of disruptive Just Stop Oil protests, according to the U.K. government’s website.
Under the Public Order Bill, protesters who interfere with key infrastructure, including roads and airports, could face up to a year in prison. The law also attaches a maximum six-month sentence to protesters who “lock-on” to objects or buildings, according to the U.K. government’s website.
Some British citizens are also fed up with the tactics and messaging of Just Stop Oil’s disruptive climate protests. A group of citizens calling themselves “Just Stop Pissing Everyone Off” have started to counter-protest the group as of mid-July.
“The disruption will end only when the government ends all new consents and licenses for fossil fuels in the UK,” the group promised in a July 18 tweet.
“It is incredible that people would think defacing the Mona Lisa is a way to achieve progress of any kind,” Patrick Moore, a former green activist and co-founder of Greenpeace, told the DCNF. “That is sacrilege, fascism — I hate the word but it comes to mind; to them, any means is acceptable to stop the Earth’s doom, which there is no evidence for whatsoever.”
Moore left Greenpeace in the late 1980s after their tactics grew too disruptive for his liking, and he said that the new generation of climate activists is even more confrontational and scientifically errant than the activists he knew and worked with at Greenpeace.
“These days, they refuse to answer to anything that doesn’t fit their narrative,” he told the DCNF. (RELATED: Eco-Activists Are Terrorizing US Cities By Going Around And Deflating SUV Tires)
Extinction Rebellion is another CEF-backed group with membership in six continents, according to its website and the 2022 CEF annual report. Since 2018, the group has organized numerous road blockades, a hunger strike and a barricade against Amazon distribution centers in the U.K., according to various reports by The Guardian.
“Extinction Rebellion is a cult of some sort,” Moore told the DCNF. “In certain rare situations, I think it is legitimate to do extreme things if there is a real threat. This is all phony, and they are disrupting everyday society.”
In April 2019 alone, more than 1,000 protesters were arrested in the U.K. in connection to Extinction Rebellion protests, according to the Guardian. “The symptoms of our inaction will only worsen, the longer we take to address the causes of this crisis,” the group’s website says, adding that “we are on the brink of a global catastrophe.”
“What we’re doing now is disrupting the pillars of support, disrupting the financial system, the legal system, the things that are propping up the climate change fossil fuel industry”, an Extinction Rebellion activist said in February while chained to a barricade outside a British law firm’s doors.
CEF’s philosophy posits that aggressive fringe activism on climate can shift society’s perception of climate change, drawing fresh recruits and wide exposure from the media buzz that the protest tactics generate, according to the 2022 CEF annual report. To substantiate its operation, CEF points to social research conducted by the Social Change Lab, an organization it funds and founded by a former member of Extinction Rebellion, according to the websites of Social Change Lab and CEF.
Social Change Lab essentially backs this philosophy with polling and analysis, according to the websites of Social Change Lab, CEF and the 2022 CEF annual report. But former NYT writer Andrew Revkin says he’s seen no evidence these radical protests are winning hearts and minds.
“The political contexts are different in Europe and the U.S., but most of the surveys I’ve seen here and abroad imply the general public is no fan. I’m not either,” Revkin, an environmentalist, told the DCNF. “What’s even more troubling for anyone seeking a broader base of support for clean energy and resilience is that those funding these groups aren’t interested in the general public.”
Polling in Germany, a country where CEF-backed groups are active, reflects Revkin’s assertion that many ordinary citizens do not find the disruptive tactics endearing. Public willingness to support “climate protectors” has fallen from 68% in 2021 to 34% in May 2023, according to More In Common. The share of surveyed Germans who believed that the climate movement had society’s best interests at heart fell from 60% in 2021 to 25% in May 2023.
CEF also funds the A22 Network in Europe, a coalition of green protest groups that includes Last Generation, according to the websites of CEF and A22 Network. “We are here to force governments to slash carbon emissions, nothing less,” A22 Network says of its mission, adding that “if we are refused we will disrupt, week after week, as those who came before us did many times in the struggle for human rights.”
Protesters belonging to Last Generation, which operates in Germany, glued themselves to an airport tarmac in Hamburg, Germany on July 13, resulting in dozens of flight cancellations, according to The Associated Press.
German authorities carried out nationwide organized crime raids against members of Last Generation in May, according to CNN.
Last Generation’s members “are tired of leaders acting like children and believe that now is the time for children to act like the leaders,” according to its homepage. “If all the youth could come together as one, nothing could stand in our way – including our elected officials, lobbying groups, and the oil & gas industry,” according to its website.
Atlanta Forest Defenders is an American group that receives money from CEF, according to CEF’s website. The group had protested construction of a police training station outside of Atlanta for several weeks in the beginning of 2023. One such protest devolved into a riot, as protesters clashed with responding police officers and set fires around the construction site on March 5, 2023.
Nearly two dozen people were charged with state domestic terrorism felonies for their involvement in the violence, according to ABC News. “We refuse to let our forest be bulldozed in favor of the police and sold out to Hollywood,” the group’s website says, despite the group’s own connections to Hollywood elites.
It is unclear whether the arrested rioters shared any direct affiliation with Atlanta Forest Defenders, but the chaos followed an Atlanta Forest Defenders event, and the group’s Twitter page still features a March 2023 reference to the group’s approval of violent resistance. (RELATED: Rashida Tlaib Tells Climate Activists Arrested For Vandalism, Blocking Traffic To Get ‘Much More Aggressive’)
CEF also funds Scientist Rebellion, a group of climate scientists who believe “now is the time for us to take action, so that we show how seriously we take our warnings” about climate change, according to its website. Peter Kalmus, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California, is a prominent member of the group. Kalmus and others were arrested after chaining themselves to the front door of a JPMorgan Chase office in Los Angeles in April 2022.
Kalmus also protested at a conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in December 2022, which resulted in his expulsion from the conference and other punitive measures, according to Science Magazine.
“Once there is scientific consensus on an issue, especially something which is about the physical laws of nature, being impartial becomes similar to putting Galileo in jail for the science of gravity,” a spokesperson for Scientist Rebellion told the DCNF. “Over the centuries to gain freedom of speech, freedom of religion, women’s vote, civil rights and all kinds of things which we think are our human rights, sick pay, the weekend… all forms of civil disobedience were used to change the power holders, why is this different?”
Climate Defiance, another CEF grantee, typically targets U.S. officials, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, for not doing enough to combat climate change, which the organization considers “an existential crisis that threatens every fiber of every being in every corner of the world,” according to its website.
In July, authorities arrested nine Climate Defiance protesters in the House office building after they disrupted a meeting of officials and refused to desist. “Literally fuck your petitions. The world is burning,” the group tweeted after the protest.
On several occasions, CEF-funded Australian protest group Fireproof Australia had its protesters sit in the middle of roadways to block traffic, and their protests have resulted in numerous arrests, according to Australian outlet 7News. The group describes itself as “a campaign of civil resistance proportional to the existential threat we face,” according to its website.
The group has staged several other road-blocking protests, according to The Guardian. Branches of the Australian government have introduced stricter anti-protest laws, partially in response to the antics of the group, according to the Guardian.
Representatives for McKibben, Kalmus, Fireproof Australia, A22 Network, Climate Defiance, Extinction Rebellion, and Social Change Lab did not respond to requests for comment. Last Generation, Atlanta Forest Defenders, Disney, Strong, Kennedy, Getty, Bloom and Onward Together could not be reached for comment.
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