This interactive map below exposes the links between those trying to thwart efforts to tackle global warming.
Donald Trump is nothing if not distracting. And so he promises to be again this week on Tuesday, when world leaders gather in Paris for President Macron’s ‘One Planet’ summit.
Timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change, it is intended to be an opportunity to celebrate (and work out how to protect) the landmark treaty.
The summit is likely to regress into political point-scoring, however, due to the US President’s June decision to withdraw the US from the deal which commits countries to preventing the world warming by more than two degrees.
While Theresa May will likely stand by her more popular European peers in admonishing Trump’s record on climate change, she would do well to keep an eye on matters closer to home.
As the Government continues to pose as a leader on climate change abroad, there remains a shadowy network of think tanks, lobbyists, and party donors all pushing to maintain the fossil-fuelled status quo in the UK.
With Theresa May’s Government in disarray, those on the fringe of the Conservative party are making hay – cashing in on bugbears they’ve held powerlessly for years.
One of these is climate policy. There remains a unit of predominantly Conservative, Brexit-supporting, backbench MPs and peers who would love nothing more than to see the UK abandon its climate targets.
Some of these faces are familiar, but many are disconcertingly new.
Former chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson has long been a figurehead of this movement. His climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Forum, has for years called for the government to scrap its climate policy, stop supporting renewable energy, and return to the good old days of fossil fuels.
He has argued that Britain should follow the example of Donald Trump and ditch the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change.
He is joined in the House of Lords by hereditary peer Viscount Matt Ridley, a self-styled “rational optimist” who oversaw the fall of Northern Rock, and who has a coal mine on his land. He has used his position in the Lords to argue against renewable energy, while lobbying for a coal industry he has a significant financial interest in.
Former environment secretary and current Shropshire MP Owen Paterson – famous for his hatred of badgers and refusal to listen to scientists on climate change – also bangs this drum from within the Commons. Leave campaigner and Labour MP Graham Stringer, sits on the board of Lawson’s GWPF, and is also a long-time ally of those questioning the
Former environment secretary and current Shropshire MP Owen Paterson – famous for his hatred of badgers and refusal to listen to scientists on climate change – also bangs this drum from within the Commons. Leave campaigner and Labour MP Graham Stringer, sits
on the board of Lawson’s GWPF, and is also a long-time ally of those questioning the validity of climate science. The Labour MP was one of just two MP’s – the other being fellow GWPF board member and climate science denier Peter Lilley – to vote against the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s acceptance of the UN IPCC’s conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of global warming. In September he wrote in the Daily Mail that “environmentalism increasingly resembles a religious creed.”
Alongside these familiar faces is a new breed of free market idealogues calling for the end of what they they consider to be market-meddling in the name of environmentalism.
For instance, there is Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament for South East England.
Since Brexit set the clock-ticking on his current job, Hannan set up the Institute for Free Trade (IFT) – a “research foundation” that “sees Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as a unique opportunity to revitalise the world trading system”, according to its website.
For such a new group, it certainly has a lot of high-profile support.
A number of prominent US libertarian think tanks have also met with Hannan or made the trip to visit the institute in recent months, including the American Enterprise Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute – both big players among those helping advise the Trump administration.
While they may seem oceans apart, those figures all have one thing in common: a history of casting aspersions on the seriousness of climate change.
A new Climate Disinformation Database, launched by DeSmog UK today, gives details on these and almost 70 other key players forming a shadowy network promoting fossil fuels and casting doubt on climate science in the UK. This new map illustrates how they all connect.
There is Michael Hintze, a hedge fund manager and major Tory donor, who also funds Lawson’s GWPF.
There is Alexander Temernko, a Ukranian oil and gas businessman, who has given more than £1 million to the Tory party since 2012. In 2015 Channel 4 caught Temerko saying he had enough MPs to throw out then Prime Minister David Cameron if he wished
And there is Lord Nigel Vinson, a Tory peer, and life vice-president of the free-market think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, who has also donated to Lawson’s GWPF.
These and a plethora of other lobbyists, politicians, and business people form a web of disinformation, using bogus science to try and discredit arguments for the UK to take action on climate change.
The new Climate Disinformation Database offers a quick and easy way to check who these people are, what their credentials are, where they get their money from.