Climategate: WWF, the 'Para-Governmental Organization' at the Center of the Storm

WWF is so intimately familiar with EU money that it has even edited a “handbook” on EU environmental funding “on behalf of the Commission.” (See here for the “handbook” and here for the “on the behalf of the Commission” as found on the website of the Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment.)

Not all of the EU’s funding to WWF, moreover, is project-linked. Most significantly for present purposes, the WWF European Policy Office in Brussels receives an annual “operating grant” from the EU. As revealed in the Commission’s “Financial Transparency” database, in 2008 this contribution amounted to €642,600, representing, according to the EU’s estimate, 17.10% of the office’s total budget. In 2007, it was €632,675, representing 15.52% of the budget. In 2006, the numbers were €591,413 and 16.44%; in 2005, €768,731 and 22.48%. And so on. WWF’s Brussels Policy Office has been awarded an annual “operating grant” from the EU every year since at least 2003.

Other advocacy groups that have played high-profile roles in hyping the “threat” of climate change likewise receive operating subsidies from the EU. Thus, for example, Friends of the Earth Europe was awarded €790,020 in 2008, representing fully 52.61% of its operating budget. Friends of the Earth presents itself as -- and is commonly presented as -- a “grass roots” organization.

As it so happens, Stephan Singer of WWF’s European Policy Office in Brussels makes several appearances in the now infamous East Anglia “Climategate” e-mails. For instance, in an e-mail of August 6, 2003, Singer can be found touting that summer’s European heat wave as proof of “global warming” and offering money for a study on the “economic costs of these weather extremes.” “Dear all,” Singer writes to the University of East Anglia’s Mike Hulme and other recipients:

i think we all have seen (if not commented on) the devastating heat wave presently in europe -- gives us a feeling on truly global warming. WWF has assured some money -- a few thousand EUROS what is not much to be honest but at least a start -- to ask an economist with climate policy understanding to assess in a short but fleshy paper (max 10 pages) the economic costs of these weather extremes ineurope. This can be put in context with the mitigation costs of ambitious climate policies. ... In short, can you advise us on a competent author who is readily available (can be one of you, of course) ...

EU funding for PGOs is by no means limited to the environmental or “climate” domains. For more on the subject, see my 2007 exposé of Reporters Without Borders here and my note on the International Federation of Human Rights here.