In May 2022, we were approached by a number of journalists – from the FT, Open Democracy and the Guardian – alleging that we were in breach of our funding policy – namely that we do not accept donations from an energy company or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company. These allegations were then published on The Guardian and Open Democracy websites.
These claims are false and unfounded:
1. It is implied that GWPF accepts funding from the Koch brothers via Donors Trust, a charitable organisation that disburses charitable donations to a number of organisations.
Our response: Donors Trust is a charitable organisation, matching donors to those seeking funding. Disbursements are not made from a homogenous pool of money – recipients of funds know the identity of the original donors. We are therefore able to vet them in line with our funding policy. We have never accepted donations from the Koch brothers or any other energy interests.
2. It is claimed that funding from the Sarah Scaife Foundation represents a fossil fuel interest.
Our response: The wealth that went into the Foundation was created in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and came from oil, banking as well as other sectors. Wealth that is inherited does not create an ‘interest’, let alone a vested one. It would be ludicrous to suggest that three generations on, an independent charity that supports a variety of causes somehow represents a commercial energy interest.
3. It is claimed that shareholdings in energy companies belonging to the Sarah Scaife Foundation make it an inappropriate donor to the GWPF.
Our response: Charitable foundations minimise their risks by using normal investment portfolios, spreading assets across geographies and economic sectors. A small proportion (approximately 3%) of the Scaife Foundation’s assets are in energy company shares, but the suggestion that this constitutes a vested interest is risible.
We do not accept donations from anyone with a significant interest in an energy company. We turn down any offers of funding from people with a vested interest in energy companies. We believe this goes further than many other environmental groups who receive money from the renewable energy industry.