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Solomon Hughes ICCF’s phony 'green' initiatives buy favour in Westminster

Putting the dodgy conservation credentials of ICCF under a microscope

THE Stanley Johnson-led British arm of a corporate-funded US “green” group is a growing influence in Westminster, including paying for two Tory and one Labour MP’s travel, accommodation and “hospitality” at November’s UN Cop26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow.

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) is a US “green” group which also funds ICCF-UK, their British arm. As I explained back in early December, ICCF-UK is a recent and Tory-focused initiative, founded in November 2019 with former Conservative Party environment adviser Satyen Sinha as director.

In March 2021 ICCF-UK made the Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson a director, in a move to beef up their political influence. Johnson’s reported poor treatment of women might make him distasteful to some, but following his appointment to ICCF-UK, the group has made more impact in Westminster.

According to the latest Register of MP’s Interests, ICCF-UK paid for Tory MPs Chris Grayling and Theo Clark to go to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.

ICCF-UK paid for eight days-worth of accommodation and hospitality and travel for Grayling, worth £2,600. Theo Clark accepted a more modest two-day trip to Cop26, worth £709 from ICCF-UK. Labour’s Barry Gardiner took the fuller option from ICCF-UK, accepting the same eight-day, £2,600 package as Chris Grayling. MPs wanted to be part of the high-profile COP-26 event, ICCF-UK made that possible, and in the process built their influence: this is how corporate lobbying works.

ICCF-UK is interested in building Westminster influence. They also help run the “all-party international conservation” group of MPs. But ICCF is less interested in global warming than many “green” charities. ICCF is known for a focus on conservation of threatened species while often avoiding climate issues.

Their Twitter account has extensive references to wildlife but makes no mention of global warming or climate change. The ICCF is funded by corporations including oil giant ExxonMobil and Coca Cola, the world’s biggest plastics polluter, which might explain the avoidance of climate issues.

Remarkably, given their professed interest in threatened animals, the ICCF is also funded by Safari Club International, an international pro-hunting lobby group. The ICCF has long put on “freebies” for US politicians, with events giving big business lobbyists opportunities to mix with politicians.

Documents from ICCF obtained by US investigative magazine Mother Jones say ICCF corporate supporters get “an unparalleled opportunity for access and visibility, to have its voice heard and its perspective appreciated by many of the most powerful leaders in Congress.” They are now backing freebies for British politicians.

You can get a strong feeling of ICCF’s political approach from their Cop26 events : According to Tory MP Theo Clarke, ICCF brought her and Labour’s Barry Gardiner together at Cop26 to discuss climate change with two US senators – Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, to discuss “international conservation and climate solutions.”

These are precisely the kind of US politicians you find hanging around ICCF. Last year two Exxon lobbyists told undercover reporters from Greenpeace how their oil firm (an ICCF funder) worked to undermine President Biden’s plans to limit greenhouse emissions and other environmental measures in his infrastructure Bill.

The Exxon lobbyists said Senator Chris Coons was their key contact, who they thought could be used to get Biden to water down his green plans. Senator Murkowski, meanwhile, from the oil-producing state of Alaska, is unsurprisingly an opponent of Biden’s “Green New Deal.”

I’m not surprised at all that the Tories are going along with ICCF’s phony “green” initiatives, but I find Labour’s Barry Gardiner’s role a bit disappointing. ICCF-UK also paid for Gardiner to fly to Washington for three days in December for “ICCF events.” It’s not clear what they were, but the total cost of the flights and accommodation was £3,114. I can’t imagine the carbon emissions from the flights would justify any events ICCF would put on.

In September ICCF-UK paid for a £2,000, four-day trip for Chris Grayling to fly to Washington to attend “a meeting of the International Conservation Caucus Federation.”

According to Stanley Johnson’s Instagram, this “meeting” was actually the ICCF’s awards dinner in a luxury hotel, which he attended with his “friend” Chris Grayling. Johnson’s role at ICCF is unpaid, but it looks like he gets the same “freebie” events: Johnson was also at Cop26.

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