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Newsweek OpEd: Radical Green Groups Put Profits Before Planet


I’ve been warning for years about the dangers of the “climate change industrial complex.” By this I mean the perversion of science and government policy decisions resulting from the many billions of dollars left-wing governments—including now the United States under Joe Biden—throw at research groups and environmental activists who promote radical anti-free-market global warming solutions.

Are green groups always aiming for a greener environment, or simply this deluge of government dollars? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

One case study is the well-funded nonprofit group Ceres. Ceres is a lead lobby for the Biden anti-American energy agenda. This left-leaning group’s mission is “transforming the economy to build a just and sustainable future for people and the planet.” It aims to hold American corporations accountable on global warming—to be judge, jury and hangman on corporate activity regarding climate change.

This week Ceres held its annual fundraiser gala, featuring controversial actress and activist Alyssa Milano. Ms. Milano—a lifelong liberal activist—tweeted in April that “police exist to uphold white supremacy.” Now she’s being celebrated by the Ceres crowd.

Ceres specializes in pushing American companies to genuflect to a woke green agenda. In a report released earlier this year, it scolded corporate CEOs for not engaging enough in environmental activism. Only 40 percent of companies are lobbying to reduce CO2 emissions, CERES found.

The group calls for companies to cut fossil fuels and reach “net-zero emissions” within the next 20 years. But does it even understand that about 70 percent of all American energy production comes from oil, gas and coal? Or that the fossil fuel industry employs well more than one million U.S. workers? Putting thousands of blue-collar American workers out of a job is apparently a small price to pay to advance the green agenda.

Environmentalists often accuse American companies of putting their pursuit of profits ahead of the future of the planet.

Ceres would never do something like that, right?

Not so fast. Last year, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pleaded guilty to multiple counts related to damages from 2018 California fires. An investigation determined that the fire was caused by a downed PG&E power line, and that the company was using faulty equipment. According to its annual reports, Ceres received money from PG&E for years prior to the wildfires. The group effectively shielded PG&E from fallout related to the deadly wildfires by blaming the destruction on—of course—climate change. Ceres’ CEO and president even testified before Congress that PG&E went bankrupt because of climate change, not the company’s negligent behavior.

Then there’s the fact that climate groups turn a blind eye toward Beijing’s environmental sins. China is by far the biggest polluter on the planet. It emits more greenhouse gasses than the United States, India and the European Union combined, and it operates more than 1,000 coal plants that spew out immense volumes of pollution.

Ceres regularly attacks American companies and the U.S. government for, as the group’s CEO has said,”dragg[ing] its feet” in reporting climate change risks.

Maybe that’s a fair criticism. But Ceres has regularly lauded the Chinese government for its environmental work. Just last year, a Ceres blog post encouraged investors to look for opportunities in China, which the organizplation said has “pursued policies that drive innovation and investment in clean energy, electric transportation and reducing toxic waste.” This would be like praising Al Capone as a crime fighter.

Climate change groups consistently demonstrate their willingness to cover for Chinese communists’ environmental crimes. Wittingly or unwittingly, they advance China’s economically predatory behavior by attacking American companies that are much cleaner and safer, but must compete with the communist regime.

And speaking of the pursuit of millions of dollars, if Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar social welfare/climate change bill passes, don’t be surprised if Ceres, a big supporter of that bill, gets a slice of the slush fund reserved for environmental and “social justice” community organizations.

It’s time to ask what green groups really want. The answer isn’t always a cleaner environment.

Stephen Moore is an economist with FreedomWorks and a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.