Who's funding you?

Raise any sort of question about climate science or policy and that’s the first question you’ll be asked, in a snarky tone. (Or possibly the second after “Don’t you idiots know every scientist not bought by oil companies says manmade global warming is an urgent crisis?”) But in the Daily Telegraph, Jillian Ambrose asks who’s funding Tempus Energy, the little energy-conservation software startup with amazingly deep pockets for climate litigation. The answer: You don’t need to see where our money comes from, and you can’t. It seems money only taints one side here.

Tempus Energy’s big coup was to challenge the European Union over its approval of subsidies to fossil fuel companies during the transition to windmills and solar. And they won big in the European Court of Justice, throwing British energy policy into chaos and arguably underlining the desirability of Brexit to restore the ability to make key policy decisions in the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster not the Mother of Bureaucracy in Brussels.

The British government actually said it would carry on regardless. So Tempus promptly charged into the UK High Court with a major Greenpeace-connected law firm in tow. And, says Ambrose, “The industry has largely looked on in quiet bafflement; how can a struggling start-up wield this kind of power over a cornerstone policy?”

It turns out “this plucky underdog is backed by a cast of secretive shareholders and anonymous donors guarded by confidentiality agreements. Under EU rules, pressure groups and campaigners cannot challenge state-aid laws but there is nothing to stop companies from doing so while using their funds.”

It’s exactly the sort of arrangement progressives would denounce if it were used to fund, say, a conservative political party or political action committee. But when it comes to greens, there’s nothing to see here folks, move along. Exactly as was the case over the massively foreign-funded campaign to “landlock” Alberta’s oil sands until independent researcher Vivian Krause started asking questions about who was funding it and why. (For instance why these big American foundations aren’t trying to landlock American oil, just ours.)

Tempus is run by its founder Sara Bell, a successful software engineer who has said “The list of what I am not prepared to do to solve climate change is minuscule. Never underestimate how much ruthless determination makes up for a lack of cash”. But evidently she doesn’t lack cash. We just don’t know whose.

Tempus, the Telegraph notes, is required by British law “to publish a public register of its shareholders on Companies House. Unusually though, many of its 280 investors are listed by their surname only. John Coomber, the former chief executive of insurance giant Swiss Re, is understood to be an investor but is listed only as ‘Coomber’, for example.” Oh well. At least his name isn’t “Smith”.

Or “Outis”, like the shadowy environmental groups behind the litigation. “Unusually for climate campaigners, they have also requested anonymity, according to Bell. ‘These supporters are not Tempus shareholders and they wish, and have the right, to remain anonymous. We signed a confidentiality agreement with them and I would be in breach of that agreement if I disclosed their names,’ she says.”

Let’s hope it’s not, say, Kremlin money looking to undermine Western Europe’s independence by making them beholden to Russian natural gas. But no. Perish the thought.

It’s only skeptics who take money for dirty motives. No matter how much gravy the government train delivers to researchers who support alarmism, or climate foundations funnel to opponents of pipelines, there isn’t the slightest mercenary taint. But let the Climate Discussion Nexus pass the hat for $20 and the jeering starts.

Despite which, please visit our contribution page and make a pledge. We have a lot of work to do, and our adversaries have deep dark pockets.

About the Author

The Climate Discussion Nexus was formed in 2018 by a group of citizens concerned about expensive, ill-planned energy policies intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It offers a forum for more open debate on all aspects of climate change, especially better use of scientific information in public discussion and policy formation.