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This is a brief summary of part of a report by Together Association & Climate Debate UK, with the title 'Clean Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics'. A quick internet search will find it. It reveals how a small number of the world's billionaires are shaping air pollution and climate policy by funding partisan groups to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. It should be required reading for those interested in energy policy.

Politicians’ own statements show that the green policy agenda represents a compact between government, civil society, academia, and big business. Experts not agreeing with the policy agenda are routinely excluded from the public debate by research agendas, editorial policy and cancel culture.

This deprives the public of debate about the costs and trade-offs of far-reaching policies.

Green organisations have worked to form a cross-party consensus at all levels of government, pushing the public interest and democratic representation out of politics.

At the local level, air pollution policies have been imposed on populations without due democratic process. This is because independent organisations are overwhelmed by well-funded and well-connected green organisations' campaigns.

In 2015, the Green Alliance coordinated a cross-party consensus on climate policy. The 'Show the Love' campaign asked the leaders of the UK’s three largest parliamentary parties to pledge, among other things, ‘To work together, across party lines, to agree carbon budgets in accordance with the climate change act’.

The fact of this cross-party consensus being on the wrong side of a democratic deficit, and being driven by ideology and contempt for the public, is set out most clearly by Alok Sharma MP, while serving as President designate for COP26, in a speech given to the Green Alliance:

"I do believe we are at a vital inflection point. Where the views of governments, businesses and civil society are coalescing in a determination to tackle climate change".

The views of the public have been taken for granted, either as irrelevant or malleable, and subordinate to a compact between government, businesses, and ‘civil society’. But civil society organisations dominant in the domains of Air Pollution Policy and climate are little more than business lobbying organisations.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
Bloomberg Family Foundation (BFF)
Christopher Hohn and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
Grantham Foundation
The European Climate Foundation and ClimateWorks (ECF)
Clean Air Fund (CAF)

Many civil society organisations (CSOs) in the climate and air pollution domains are wholly dependent on, and were founded by, philanthropic foundations, ‘to order’.

• CSOs and academic organisations receive vastly greater budgets from philanthropy than the public can raise for genuinely independent campaigning and research.

• Though CSOs claim to be ‘independent’ and often take the form of charities, closer inspection reveals them to be aligned to philanthropic foundations’ interests, and politically-motivated.

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
UK100 Cities Network
Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCM)

Together Association & Climate Debate UK

During the Covid 19 pandemic, a number of policies intended to reorganise roads and city plans to limit the use of private transport and to reduce air pollution were either implemented or advanced. Schemes such as London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and Clean Air Zones (CAZs) elsewhere, and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are now the subject of intense controversy locally and nationally.

Local authorities have advanced their policies despite significant opposition to these schemes. Rather than opening discussions with local populations, objections have been ignored. Instead they have based decisions on the basis of arguments and evidence provided to them by lobbying groups, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and academic researchers, many of whom have been active in policy design, implementation, and climate campaigning.

This means a serious democratic deficit exists, and hangs over radical planning decisions. There are also serious questions about the credibility of scientific guidance.

The Together Declaration was formed in 2021 in response to unprecedented Covid-19 management policies. Together’s founders and membership believed that the removal of vital political and civil rights and freedoms could not be justified by ‘the science’.

Since then, achievements range from campaigning successfully against vaccine mandates and harmful lockdown policies, to fighting for the reinstatement of unvaccinated care workers and the protection of free expression.

'Together' members believe that the lack of public debate and the exclusion of critical expert opinion from air pollution and traffic management policymaking is undemocratic and echoes the abuse of power and draconian policies imposed on the public during the pandemic.

Together has joined with many other national and local groups to oppose these new policies, citing:

1 the lack of democratic and technical debate,
2 the economic harms that will be done,
3 the loss of freedoms they will cause,
4 the questionable character of much of the scientific and technical evidence given in their support,
5 the nature of the organisations and processes involved in their formulation.

In Spring 2023, Together and Climate Debate UK produced a joint report on the shortcomings of seemingly science-based claims that an ‘air pollution crisis’ was the cause of ‘4,000 deaths per year’ in London, and that this could be mitigated by ULEZ and similar policies.

The latest report builds on our previous work and our insistence that the public must be at the centre of political decision-making across all policy domains. Clean Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics

Though air pollution policies may seem to have been driven by grassroots campaigns and scientific evidence, we have investigated these organisations and found that they are in fact almost exclusively supported by a small number of philanthropic foundations that are active in climate change lobbying, which have made air quality a proxy issue for the same agenda.

The good intentions of philanthropy and CSOs cannot be taken at face value.

And the influence of money and ideology can also be found in the work of institutional science as clear biases, at the expense of important debates between domain experts. Moreover, by working with each other, special interest philanthropic foundations, CSOs, academic researchers and politicians have excluded the public and the public interest from democratic policymaking.

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