Stand.earth statement on 'foreign funding' accusations

Stand.earth statement on 'foreign funding' accusations

Tuesday May 14, 2019

This rhetoric over our organization’s funding feeds into the increasingly divisive and xenophobic discourse sweeping our globe. “Foreign-funded” is a term intended to tap into peoples’ fear of the other — a dangerous game to play.

At Stand.earth, we remain committed to our work to stop climate change — especially in the face of the recent United Nations report giving the world just over a decade to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and keep Earth’s warming below 1.5 degrees celsius to ensure a livable climate for future generations. 

Let us be clear. We’re not saying the oil and gas industry should be shut down overnight. But we ARE pushing Canada for an exit plan from its reliance on the oil and gas industry — one that’s fair to workers and communities. 

If we want to ensure a safe future for our children, we know the global oil and gas industry can’t continue to expand. We can’t build a single new oil and gas megaproject — not in Canada, not in the U.S., and not in the rest of the world. 

That means we remain committed to stopping the Trans Mountain Pipeline — and any expansion of the tar sands. We have read the science, we understand the analysis, and we know the world simply cannot afford to burn all of the oil in the tar sands. 

Divisive rhetoric

This rhetoric over our organization’s funding feeds into the increasingly divisive and xenophobic discourse sweeping our globe. “Foreign-funded” is a term intended to tap into peoples’ fear of the other — a dangerous game to play. The term is a red herring to distract Canadians from real issues like climate change. 

The truth is, a majority of Canada’s oil and gas industry — and its lobbying arm — is also “foreign-funded.” Kinder Morgan, the company that abandoned the Trans Mountain Pipeline? Based in Texas. LNG Canada, the company behind the massive terminal in B.C.? A foreign-owned consortium that calls themselves LNG Canada merely for branding purposes.
Billions of dollars of holdings, and millions of dollars of funding, prop up the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to lobby the federal government on behalf of the oil and gas industry. CAPP counts among its membership such foreign heavyweights as the Koch brothers and Petro China.

The amount of foreign money invested in expanding Canada’s oil and gas industry dwarfs any amount invested in fighting climate change. In 2017, foreign investment in mining and oil and gas extraction was over $162 billion. In 2018, Alberta’s provincial leaders spent $30 million on oil sands advertising in an attempt to get Canadians to side with unfettered oil and gas expansion at the expense of a livable climate.

The estimated $4 million per year that environmental groups in Canada have collectively received from outside of Canada for over a decade — which includes efforts like wetlands conservation — is a drop in the bucket compared to the same non-Canadian funds used to support the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas companies like to portray themselves as underdogs, begging for help and claiming they are under attack. Really? Those same companies make record profits while laying off workers. Building one more pipeline isn’t going to give workers and their families the job security they need. But building new industries and retraining workers will. The $4.5 billion the Canadian federal government paid for the Trans Mountain Pipeline could have funded worker retraining for nearly half a million people.

And what to make of Vivian Krause, who relies on the National Post to publish her spin? The National Post is 98% owned by a U.S. hedge fund. Krause’s claim that U.S. money equals U.S. interests has suddenly lost its teeth. 

To suggest funding from outside of Canada can support the expansion of the oil and gas industry, but not support environmental organizations working to keep it in the ground, is to apply different rules to different people. Canadians deserve better than to see political leaders question the legitimacy of organizations and our right to engage in a conversation about Canada’s future because of an arbitrary double-standard.

Canadians working together

Our staff have worked for decades to ensure stronger laws to protect Canada’s water, air, and forests, and to ensure Canadians everywhere can enjoy a safe climate for decades to come.

Attempts to discredit our work — and the concerns of thousands of Canadians — by fear mongering about outside influence are divisive and disingenuous. It comes at the exact moment when Canadians need to be working together to address the difficult changes we need to make to build a new economy — while protecting our climate for future generations.

The oil and gas industry is the largest — and fastest growing — source of climate pollution in Canada. If we hope to reduce Canada’s climate emissions, we can’t keep growing the largest slice of the emissions pie while trying to shrink the whole pie. Oil and gas expansions like the Trans Mountain Pipeline simply enable that emissions growth.

Canada already has the manufacturing prowess, and it is our ability to innovate that makes our country well positioned to continue down the path to clean energy. We need to diversify our economy, not build more dirty pipelines.

Climate change knows no boundaries

Stand.earth is proud of our success in stopping fossil fuel projects on both sides of the border. Climate denialists like to claim Stand.earth only fights Canadian projects and landlocks Canadian oil. Guess what? It takes literally 30 seconds of research to figure out we’re trying to stop fossil fuel expansion on both sides of the border, and we want to landlock fossil fuel expansion projects everywhere. Stopping fossil fuel expansion everywhere is our only hope of curbing the worst impacts of our looming climate catastrophe.

Stand.earth is a cross-border organization with offices in Canada and the United States, and we are proud to accept funding from foundations and individuals around the world trying to help address the pressing issue of climate change by donating to groups everywhere. 

Our organization’s success depends not just on foundations, but largely on public support from more than 1,300 Canadians — people who are worried about issues like climate change and oil spills, and who are tired of the tar sands industry hijacking the national conversation on climate change. 

Yes, we receive funding from U.S. foundations — but not in the way our opponents would lead you to believe. About a third of our Canadian revenue comes from U.S. foundations, of which a quarter goes to oil and gas opposition. That’s a whopping total of less than 10% of U.S. foundation funding going to our work in Canada on oil and gas.

Any arguments over our funding ignore the fact that climate change doesn’t recognize political boundaries — it is a global issue that requires a global response. Knowing that, it should be no surprise we raise money in both the U.S. and Canada. Our Canadian staff and supporters care deeply about protecting the coast and the climate, respecting Indigenous rights, and ensuring a safe future for their children. 

Regardless of disagreements over the best path forward  — Canadians deserve better than this. At Stand.earth, we understand we are not going to stop using oil tomorrow. But the facts are clear: the climate is changing and we have just over a decade to fundamentally transform our global reliance on fossil fuels.

Making this transformation happen requires every single one of us to put forward as much ingenuity, creativity, and energy as possible. Will you join us?