August , 2017
Koch brothers or Trump: Who weakened the climate deal?
14:06 pm

Anustup Roy Barman

Always stay under the deep water, never come up. Remember that a whale can only be hunted when it comes up. This was the advice given to four young American scions by their father. The father, Fred Chase Koch, commanded one of the largest petroleum empires in the US. He was an American chemical engineer and an entrepreneur who founded the oil refinery firm that later became the Koch Industries. It controls an enviable portion of the petroleum sector of the US.  Fred Koch died in 1967, leaving his empire to his four sons. Charles and David bought the portions of the other two brothers and became the owners of the empire.

According to political commentators, American President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord could have been masterminded by these two reclusive brothers. 195 countries had agreed to the Paris Accord. After Trump’s withdrawal, Americans are fiercely debating the decision. Was it his decision or was it a persuasive demand from the Koch brothers? Why is Trump so bent on withdrawing from the Accord when the Fortune 100 companies and other American economic powerhouses are in favour of the Accord? The state of California has announced its decision to obey the accord independently and Trump’s daughter Ivanka is supposed to be in favour of the Accord.

According to the US media, the answer to these questions lies with Charles and David Koch. Their name figures high on the list of American billionaires. They have their oil refineries spread across the country. More than 4000  kilometres of underground oil carrying pipes owned by them connect extreme corners of the country. Their economic interest in the petroleum industry is immense and according to environmentalists, they spend an unimaginable amount of money to stall and stagger climate change initiatives.

They have consciously maintained a low profile. A majority of Americans don’t even know the names of the two brothers. They are almost invisible to the American media. Their empire is skilfully kept out of the public glare. Yet, they have high stakes in politics. They were at loggerheads with former President Barack Obama and played a significant role behind Trump’s victory. At a closed-door gathering of like-minded mega donors in 2011, Charles Koch declared that the upcoming election would be a battle “for the life or death of this country” and that “we gotta do better than” what they were doing to fund Obama’s contender. In total, Koch Industries and its affiliates Georgia-Pacific and Flint Hills Resources have given more than $2.2 million to candidates and parties during this election cycle.

Koch Industries recently asserted that its support for candidates “is not based on party affiliation, and we support both Republicans and Democrats who support market-based policies and solutions.” Yet 95% of its corporate donations in 2011 and 2012 have gone to Republicans. Charles and David Koch have given a combined total of $411,000 to federal and state candidates and parties during this election cycle. The only clause that is attached is that the candidates who receive the funds cannot speak up against climate change.

The no climate tax pledge was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, associated with the Koch brothers.  165 of those who signed the pledge were candidates in the 2010 election. A majority of them won the elections. One of them was Frederick Stephen Upton from Michigan. In 2010, he received $20 lakh as election fund and his concern about climate change disappeared overnight from his website. People like Richard G Lugar, who opposed the pledge, couldn’t even gather the amount required for running the election and lost to a relatively unknown Richard E. Murdock of the Tea Party.

Millions of dollars enter the accounts of those companies that work to disprove the climate change theory. They try to scientifically prove that the climate is as it was and there is no big imminent threat. They train the right wing leaders in denouncing the problem scientifically. The  issue of climate change has suddenly disappeared from the  Republican agenda.

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