News / Toronto

Organic coffee shop Green Beanery funds group that denies man-made climate change

A popular Toronto coffee shop that touts its eco-friendly products is owned by a lobby group that denies man-made climate change.

The Green Beanery, an organic coffee company with a flagship store at Bathurst and Bloor, has this posted on its website: "Green Beanery is a non-profit organization owned by Energy Probe Research Foundation. All earnings from Green Beanery's operations support the work of Probe International, a federally registered Canadian charity that works with citizen's groups around the world to protect their lands and their livelihoods.”

What it doesn't mention is that Energy Probe is a lobby group that rejects the validity of climate change research. Founded in the late 1960s, the group was among the first in Canada to raise the alarm about climate change, according to founder Lawrence Solomon.

“Subsequent research, however, showed us convincingly that man-made climate change is not a threat and that, in fact, policies to combat climate change have damaged the environment,” Solomon told Metro in an email.

Solomon says real environmental threats include nuclear power, the use of crops for biofuel and dams that cause flooding in the developing world. In a series of National Post columns, he says fossil fuels are the most environmentally friendly source of energy.

The charity’s CRA filings show that Energy Probe brought in $1.3 million in 2012 in non-donation revenue. Solomon says all of Green Beanery’s profits go to the Probe International division, but refused to give a figure.

Probe International has recently campaigned for private land ownership rights in China, saying government ownership leads to less accountability for environmental degradation. It regularly asks the Canadian government to disclose more about the international energy projects it sponsors.

Green Beanery serves coffee from small-scale farmers in the developing world. It uses recyclable coffee cups and promotes sustainable development. A number of customers told Metro they feel duped for supporting a non-profit, organic coffee shop whose owners advocate a fringe view of environmentalism.

“It definitely makes me uneasy,” said Sarah Stephens, who’s been to Green Beanery twice. “At least with Starbucks, you know it’s going to a big corporation.”

But others laud the café for clearly listing its affiliations online.

“I have nothing against it,” says Don Haynes, a frequent Green Beanery customer. “It’s a non-profit and they had a sign up about this for a long time.”

More on