On Saturday, the Daily Sceptic reported Matt Ridley’s contention that the well-organised campaign against fracking shale gas was part-funded by a Russia concerned about reducing Europe’s dependence on its gas exports. Daniel Hannan wrote in Sunday’s Telegraph that Russia poured £60 million into Western anti-fracking campaigns, “using gullible activists” to spread scare stories about contamination and earthquakes. “Utter tripe,” tweeted the investigative journalist David Rose, stating that there was simply no evidence for the claim, but noting that the activists had all the money they needed from “Sir Christopher Hohm and his buddies”.
Rose is correct in drawing attention to the huge sums of money that pour into the thousands of green activist organisations that have sprung up over the last 20 years. Sir Christopher Hohm is a billionaire hedge fund manager and has given Extinction Rebellion nearly £200,000. But unsurprisingly, none of the gifts, bequests and grants to the countless green operations are labelled, “A present from a grateful Russia.” Of course, any foreign power seeking influence could easily channel money undetected.
Russia’s hand is clearly detectable in the anti-fracking campaigns of the last decade, and by implication in the wider green movement. Unlike most conspiracy theories about Russia meddling in Western politics, Matt Ridley suggests, “this one is out there in plain sight”. He continued in an article written in 2019: “The head of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the Russians, as part of a sophisticated disinformation operation, ‘engaged actively with so-called non-government organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas’.”