The Carbon Trust, a British environmental pressure group, is establishing a presence in the United States, underwritten by British taxpayers’ money.
The Carbon Trust was created as an independent, but taxpayer funded, company by the British Government in order to encourage firms to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. It received £93.6 million ($154.4) in taxpayer funding in 2007-08. Its other income was just £4 million ($6.6 million) in that year, the vast majority of which was interest. Carbon Trust CEO Tom Delay was paid £223,109 ($368,018) in 2007-2008.
The company has now established an international arm. As its website notes, “In June 2009, the Carbon Trust Board approved the establishment of Carbon Trust International Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carbon Trust to further its international objectives.” It has established separate websites for the original UK organization (http://www.carbontrust.co.uk) and Carbon Trust International (http://www.carbontrust.com).
With support from the British government, the Carbon Trust is working on developing relationships with state actors outside the UK. It has signed Memoranda of Understanding with a Chinese “national investment corporation” and with the State of Florida. Its objectives seem particularly ambitious in the United States. It is recruiting for “Head of Carbon Trust USA.” The successful candidate is supposed to work at establishing similar organizations throughout the U.S. to engage in substantial lobbying.
Carbon Trust International and Carbon Trust USA mark a considerable expansion of the Trust’s scope. Such an expansion takes the company far beyond its initial remit and the organisation is now attempting to influence the democratic debate in the United States, an extremely questionable use of British taxpayers’ money. Its website notes:
“[The] Carbon Trust envisages that over the next 2-4 years there would be: 1-3 Carbon Trust style entities with a range of energy efficiency, low carbon customer offerings; 1-3 international low carbon innovation accelerator projects; 5-10 early stage low carbon investments; trusted relationships with the Administration and key elected members in Washington/ States.”
“To focus in particular on those opportunities where the Carbon Trust is more likely to establish operating entities to reduce carbon emissions; [...] to explore, and [...] develop opportunities, including private and public sectors and NGOs, potential public and private funding providers”
“[Carry] out visits arranged by the British Embassy/Consulates in the US and the British High Commission in Canada to meet and present the Carbon Trust model to high-level government and business representatives. There may also be a small number of similar visits to South American countries.”
“To establish and maintain key relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including elected members, policy makers and advisers.”
As a result, policy experts in both Britain and America have strongly criticized the Carbon Trust’s expansion.
Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“It is shocking that an organisation funded by British taxpayers is trying to expand into new territories as if it is a multinational company. The Carbon Trust has always been among the worst examples of unaccountable government bureaucracy, financed with taxpayers’ cash but not subject to public scrutiny through vital democratic tools like the Freedom of Information Act. Now it’s trying to export that model to other countries, using British taxpayers’ money to lobby foreign politicians to fund its new franchises abroad. This attempt to use the power of the British Government to build a corporate empire overseas is reminiscent of the old East India Company, not a public service agency. The Carbon Trust should be abolished and a stop put to this kind of abuse of taxpayers’ money.”
Iain Murray, Director of Projects and Analysis and Senior Fellow in Energy, Science and Technology at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said:
"Given that the British government lashed out at a backbench Conservative politician for expressing doubts about the National Health Service while on a visit to the United States, it should think twice before using British taxpayers’ money to try to influence the energy debate in the U.S. The reaction to the Waxman-Markey bill following its passage by the House of Representatives suggests that Americans are extremely skeptical about the cost to America of emissions reduction. I suspect they will be even more annoyed if their Representatives listen to the British Government rather than to them. Last time it was tea, this time it could be carbon credits."