Quantcast
Popular
Bob via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Lobby Group Tied to Koch Brothers, Brexit Climate Deniers Pushes 'Strong Pro-Corporate Agenda'

By Mat Hope

A new lobby group has appeared in Europe claiming to represent "consumers." But a closer look reveals it is actually backed by some familiar groups known for their efforts to weaken climate and environmental regulations.

The Consumer Choice Centre was set up in March 2017 and was promoted as "a grassroots-led movement" that "empowers consumers across the globe."


But an investigation by Brussels think tank Corporate Europe Observatory suggests the Consumer Choice Centre is actually working as a lobby group for a network pushing deregulation, while working closely with high-profile organizations including London-based think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) and U.S. oil billionaire Charles Koch.

The IEA's head of lifestyle economics, Christopher Snowdon, helped launch the group at an event just around the corner from the European Parliament in April 2017, Corporate Europe Observatory said. At the event, the Consumer Choice Centre said it collaborated with libertarian think tank EPICENTER, which the IEA was involved in creating.

EPICENTER promotes the work of six free-market think tanks, including reports that criticize renewable energy subsidies and praising fracking.

As DeSmog UK previously revealed, the IEA has close ties to a UK network of climate science denial organizations that pushed for Brexit. Former IEA chairman, Neil Record, now sits on the board of climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Forum.

The think tank was awarded zero stars for transparency by watchdog Transparify as it refuses to disclose its funders.

A spokesperson for the IEA told DeSmog UK that it "has no formal relationship with the CCC [Consumer Choice Centre]."

"Both organisations work on similar areas and staff have spoken at each other's events, but there is no official affiliation."

The Consumer Choice Centre has four full time lobbyists and spent up to €199,999 on lobbying between May 2015 and April 2016, according to lobbyfacts.eu.

Its original funding came from U.S. group Students for Liberty, its managing director told Corporate Europe Observatory.

According to Students for Liberty's annual accounts, the group is funded by Charles Koch, of the Koch Industries—a group famous for funding the spread of climate science denial.

Students for Liberty also receives money from the Atlas Network and the Cato Institute, which are also funded by the Koch Brothers and are at the center of a U.S. network that pushes for deregulation and helps spread climate science denial.

The Consumer Choice Centre is part of a "network of corporate-funded organisations aggressively pushing for deregulation in the EU," the Corporate Europe Observatory investigation said.

"In practice, CCC's [Consumer Choice Centre] activities apparently boil down to insisting that consumer choice always equates to less regulation, whenever any regulatory or lobbying-related discussion at EU level provides a hook."

Corporate Europe Observatory campaigner Margarida Silva told DeSmog UK it expected this agenda to extend to environmental regulation and energy policy.

"Considering that their biggest donor, Students For Liberty, is backed by U.S. hardliners Koch Industries, and Consumer Choice Centre themselves say they receive further funding from an undisclosed energy company, it is not unreasonable to expect this partisan funding base to translate into a targeting of energy regulation as well," Silva added.

It is also notable that both the IEA and Koch groups are based outside of Europe.

The IEA was instrumental in arguing for Brexit, and could use the Consumer Choice Centre to continue to push for weaker regulations before they are translated into UK law as part of the repeal bill.

Likewise, the Consumer Choice Centre gives the Koch brothers an avenue to influence European policy, potentially exporting their highly influential lobbying model across the Atlantic. DeSmog UK previously revealed that Koch Industries spent between €200,000 and €299,999 ($223,634 – $335,449 or £142,464 – £213,695) on its European lobby efforts in a single year.

"It is interesting to note that Brexit and Trump may have conjured a climate conducive to deregulation, which has emboldened groups that are pushing a strong pro-corporate agenda," Silva said.

"IEA's activities have focused on the EU for a while now. They have, for example, published the Nanny State Index, and are a founding member of radical free-market think tank EPICENTER. And yet, IEA has still not joined the EU lobby register. The same is the case with Students For Liberty," she added.

Another U.S. free-market think tank, the Heritage Foundation, registered as an EU lobbyist for just one month earlier this year. The entry was removed due to "data inconsistencies."

Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Caribbean Flamingo. Claudio Contreras Koob

Four Vital Tips for Ethical Wildlife Photography

By Lisa Moore

Imagine yourself, camera in hand, suddenly spotting a grazing elk, a hummingbird feeding its chicks, a grizzly charging a rival or a bumble bee gathering pollen. You want the shot, but how do you get it without disturbing the natural behavior of the beautiful animal you're hoping to capture through your lens?

Keep reading... Show less
Benjamin Tupper

10 Facts About Pangolins on World Pangolin Day

By Elly Pepper

Do you know what a pangolin is? Where it lives? Why it's so endangered?

Most people don't. But World Pangolin Day, which falls on Feb. 17, is a great place to start. So here are 10 facts—some fun, some not so fun—about one of the world's most vulnerable but least-known species.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
themorningglory / Flickr

Household Products Cause as Much Air Pollution as Cars, Surprising Study Finds

Petroleum-based chemicals, such as those used in paints, cleaners and personal care products such as perfumes and deodorants, contribute as much to volatile organic air pollution in urban areas as cars and trucks, according to a new finding published in Science.

The consumer products emit synthetic "volatile organic compounds" or VOCs that contribute to ground-level ozone or small particulate pollution, causing asthma, lung disease and other serious health problems.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch

Trump EPA Slammed for Ag Giant's 'Absurdly Low' Pesticide Fine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement this week with Syngenta Seeds, LLC over violations of federal pesticide regulations at its farm in Kauai, Hawaii.

The company, a subsidiary of Swiss biotech giant Syngenta AG, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and spend another $400,000 on worker protection training sessions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Female Bornean orangutan with offspring. Photo courtesy of Dr. Marc Ancrenaz

Ravaged by Deforestation, Borneo Loses Nearly 150,000 Orangutans in 16 Years

By Basten Gokkon

The world lost nearly 150,000 orangutans from the island of Borneo in the past 16 years due to habitat loss and killing, and is on track to lose another 45,000 by 2050, according to a new paper in the journal Current Biology.

The study, published Feb. 15, observed 36,555 orangutan nests across Borneo, an island that is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, between 1999 and 2015. During that period, the researchers reported a steep decline in the number of nests they encountered over a given distance: the encounter rate more than halved from 22.5 nests per kilometer (about 36 per mile) to 10.1 nests per kilometer. That decline, they calculate, represents an estimated loss of 148,500 individual Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus).

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, presenting board to Department of Interior leadership—Todd Wynn, director (left) and Tim Williams, deputy director (right) in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Surfrider Foundation

Coastal Recreation and Tourism Businesses Fight Offshore Oil Drilling Proposal

The Surfrider Foundation and leaders of the coastal recreation and tourism industry on Thursday presented Department of Interior representatives with a surfboard and letters signed by more than 1,000 coastal businesses and elected officials in opposition to new offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. From Florida to Maine and California to Washington State, businesses including restaurants, retailers, surf shops and hotels are expressing concerns that new offshore oil and gas development would be disastrous for coastal communities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy

Renewables Now Contribute Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Electricity Generation

Renewable energy now makes up 18 percent of total electrical generation in the U.S., roughly double the amount a decade ago, a new report shows.

According to the sixth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which outlines key U.S. energy trends, renewable energy output in the power sector soared to a record high last year and could eventually rival nuclear.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Snowshoe hares. L.S. Mills / Jaco and Lindsey Barnard

Animals With White Winter Camouflage Could Struggle to Adapt to Climate Change

By Daisy Dunne

Animals that turn white in the winter to hide themselves in snowy landscapes could struggle to adapt to climate change, research suggests.

A new study finds that declining winter snowfall near the Arctic could have varying effects on the survival of eight mammal species that undergo a seasonal color molt from summer brown to winter white each year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!