There are some people whose names crop up now and again; one of these is Crispin Odey (for previous mentions of old Harrovian, city trader, Crispin Odey in this blog see here, here, here, here, here, here and here!). Yesterday Mr Odey was mentioned in the Guardian under the headline ‘Tory donor invested in firm linked to Amazon deforestation‘.
Mr Odey is a grouse shooter, and it appears that those who are keenly in favour of grouse shooting are also rather unbothered by climate change (see results of a poll on this blog here). So the headline didn’t come as a massive shock.
In that poll, only a quarter of those who self-identified as being keenest on driven grouse shooting said they believed that we could do anything about climate change through our actions. As a large investor, Mr Odey is certainly in a position to do something about climate change and yet the headline is rather suggestive of him not exerting himself very strongly in that direction through his investments.
On reading below the headline though, I find the case against Mr Odey weaker than I had presumed it might be. Mr Odey’s Odey Asset Managment has invested in clearing Cerrado land (not the Amazon, but a close second in carbon and biodiversity value) in Brasil. The company is not signed up to a zero-deforestation policy and, presumably correctly, simply states that it isn’t breaking any Brasilian laws by investing in agriculture in the way it does. Admittedly these are the laws of the Bolsonaro government so not of the greatest standard as far as environmental protection and climate change compliance are concerned.
I found the most interesting thing to be that the Norwegian government pension fund had disinvested from Odey’s company. So we have a tale of three governments. Odey is ‘in’ with the Bolsonaro government of Brasil, a government with low environmental credentials, and ‘out’ with the Norwegian government, a government with some noted environmental principles. And Odey is ‘well, well, well in’ with our present Johnson UK government as a major donor. Under Johnson, and post-Brexit (a move of which Odey was a massive supporter), will the UK move towards the Brasilian position or the Norwegian one? What do you think? With ultra-rich donors like Odey my guess is that we’re on the road to Rio rather than Oslo but, of course, we will see. But if we are, then Odey Asset Management may be happy to invest in environmentally-damaging schemes at home and simply say that they are compliant with UK law (once we have dumped many of the existing EU-derived legal protections).
Here is a quote from elsewhere in today’s Guardian that seems relevant here:
I think there’s always an assumption that you don’t get nothing for nothing in this world. And those who donate to your campaign will expect to be repaid in some way in the future.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/04/keir-starmer-andrew-neil-and-long-bailey-keep-up-donation-pressure