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Claire Merchlinsky for Quartz

Charities are trapped into taking tainted money from corporations

Natasha Frost
Member exclusive by Natasha Frost for The new philanthropy

If you visited a major British arts institution in the last 30 years, your trip was almost certainly subsidized by the corporation responsible for the third-largest contribution to climate change of any company in history.

BP, formerly short for British Petroleum, is an oil and gas giant and one of the largest companies in the world. In the UK, its philanthropic giving runs the gamut of high art: Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, and many other cultural powerhouses.

But however lavish its donations, the company is equally profligate in its spending on lobbying to block unhelpful legislation on tar sands, power plants, or renewable energy initiatives. In 2011, BP and Shell together bullied the EU into scrapping its renewable energy and energy efficiency goals, in favor of a new target that allowed it to push natural gas, instead. (Natural gas is non-renewable and contributes to climate change.) More recently, it made a show of support for the EU’s push to get emissions to zero to 2050, but refused to support the target in official consultations.

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