New Details Emerge on Extinction Rebellion’s Funding
The British-backed environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, known for using extreme tactics, was the subject of a New York Times exposé on Friday reviewing its backing from millionaires.
The group gained national media coverage this week for its protests in Washington, D.C. and Denver that blocked rush hour traffic and led to numerous arrests, has been previously covered by Western Wire in a series of stories on its funding, protests, and local political support.
Started by two British activists in October 2018, Extinction Rebellion has caused mayhem across the U.K. and recently brought their tactics to the United States with the financial support of wealthy Americans.
The New York Times story profiles three individuals who have provided the bulk of financial and logistical support for the group, Aileen Getty, Rory Kennedy and Trevor Neilson. Getty is the granddaughter of the late oil billionaire J. Paul Getty. Kennedy is daughter of the late-U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy. Neilson is a consultant whose clients include Hollywood celebrities using philanthropy to burnish their images, has provided public relations guidance.
The three set up the Climate Emergency Fund to support disruptive activists and channeled huge financial resources to Extinction Rebellion. Getty made a $600,000 contribution earlier this year and other fundraising efforts have collected more than $1 million.
Nielson told the New York Times, “The smartest place for philanthropists to invest is in this new generation of activists who refuse to accept the excuses of the adults whose lazy approach to climate is leading us off a cliff.” He added, “The era of gradualism in environmental activism is over.”
Last month, Western Wire profiled Getty and reported that she’s used part of her family’s fortune to start the Aileen Getty Foundation, which in turn helped set up the Climate Emergency Fund.
Getty has previously directed her charitable giving to AIDS research and housing support and appears new to climate activism as she owns a six-bedroom mansion in California and a New York townhouse.
According to the New York Times, Getty, whose fortune came from the Getty Oil corporation, still has not fully divested her financial holdings from fossil fuel companies. Forecasting how this might be difficult issue for Getty to address, billionaire investor and presidential candidate Tom Steyer has centered his campaign around climate change and while claiming to be divested from oil and coal companies, has refused to disclose a list of his assets.
Extinction Rebellion has gone through growing pains in its early months with direction from leaders not always observed by members.
Neilson told the New York Times that the Climate Emergency Fund would only award grants to local Extinction Rebellion groups that conduct “legal activities.” Protests, however, in Washington, D.C. were marked by widespread traffic disruption on busy roads that led to at least two dozen arrests.
“We will block key infrastructure to stop business-as-usual, bringing the whole city to a gridlocked standstill,” the group wrote its website.
In Denver, Western Wire was on hand to cover Extinction Rebellion protests on Monday that led to traffic disruptions and multiple arrests.