55 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL
This page will be updated regularly with further news and links on Clexit, Brexit and environmental policy, Trump and Clexit and UK Government backtracking on climate policy.
Original news story 12/3/17:
We know that the Trump administration denies man-made climate change, is pro-fossil fuel and plans to pull out of the Paris Climate Deal.
Trump has described global warming as a ‘hoax’ invented by the Chinese to harm manufacturing industry. Key members of his administration such as EPA boss Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary deny climate change. His Secretary of State is ex-Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson.
Trump said his victory would be ‘Brexit plus plus plus!’ Many of the leading campaigners for Brexit like Lord Lawson, Nigel Farage, Douglas Carswell and Owen Paterson are also pushing for a ‘Climate Exit’ or ‘Clexit’.
Lord Lawson, who was Chair of the Vote Leave campaign also founded the climate sceptic think tank Global Warming Policy Foundation (one of whose trustees is Conservative MP Peter Lilley). Nigel Farage once said, “we may have made one of the biggest stupidest collective mistakes in history by getting so worried about global warming.” Conservative MP and former Environment secretary Owen Paterson has said that the effects of climate change have been ‘exaggerated’ and “It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.”
Registered at the same London address are the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Owen Paterson’s UK2020 think tank, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Business for Britain, the European Foundation, Global Vision and the Centre for Policy Studies and other influential rightwing organisations. Vote Leave was originally registered at 55 Tufton Street but in early 2016 moved to a bigger address nearby.
The group was formed in July/August of 2016. Its President is Christopher Monckton. The group’s founding statement denies man-made climate change, describes carbon dioxide as good for the planet and disputes climate impacts on, for example, sea level rise. Another sceptic, Lord Lawson said of the Fifth Carbon Budget, “I do believe there will be a review following the Brexit shock.”
Climate sceptics – or ‘Clexiteers’- seek influence through lobbying and aim to shape public opinion via mainstream media.
Bob Ward, policy director at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute said, “This zealous ideological clique are trying to imprint their extreme agenda on government policy. It’s clear they enjoy preferential access to some parts of government and, considering their small size, they are having a disproportionate impact. This small cabal is undermining the democratic process, which should be based on robust and open debate, rather than clandestine meetings between ideological bed-fellows.” (see Independent link for footnote 3.). Another key tenant at No 55 is the European Foundation, an anti-EU think-tank (led by Conservative MP Bill Cash) that published an infamous paper during the crucial UN Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 at which world leaders desperately attempted – and failed – to agree meaningful action to tackle global warming. The research led to a front page story in the Daily Express headlined: “100 reasons why global warming is natural – no proof that human activity is to blame”.
If they’re a fringe group why should we be worried about them?
- Climate scepticism is well-represented in the Conservative Party- despite its official acceptance of climate science. Sceptics include Boris Johnson and David Davis. Others like Andrea Leadsom and Sajid Javid have voted against climate action.
Boris Johnson used his Telegraph column to cast doubt on climate change – suggesting that we may heading for a mini-ice age. As London Mayor he invited sceptic Matt Ridley to City Hall as part of the cultural celebration at the time to the Olympics to speak about how environmental risks are overblown. David Davis has written “The row about whether global warming exists gets even more virulent. The case is not helped by the fact that the planet appears to have been cooling, not warming, in the last decade” and campaigned against green taxes and renewable energy. Michael Gove tried to remove climate change from the National Curriculum in 2013 before backing down under pressure. Andrea Leadsom voted to oppose measures to halt climate change including against setting a target to reduce emissions in 2012 and 2016. When appointed Energy Minister in 2015 asked advisers ‘Is climate change real?’ but says she was ‘fully persuaded’ by them. Javid, who is known for his bullish free market values, has voted against laws to halt climate change and has accepted the money from the neo-Conservative free trade think tank the American Enterprise Institute– which has been funded by energy giant Exxon and financiers of climate denial Koch Brothers – to fund four trips to the US to attend and speak at the annual AEI World Forum Conference between 2011 and this year.
- A survey of a sample of Conservative MPs in 2014 showed that most were climate sceptics.
In a Populus poll of 119 MPs in 2014 only 30% of Conservative MPs agreed with the statement, ‘It is now an established scientific fact that climate change is largely man-made.’
- These groups and individuals often campaign against climate action using free market arguments without explicit scepticism.
- They will intervene in many issues–even those not at first glance about climate, such as the Steel crisis– to push their agenda.
A Daily Mail editorial called “the crippling green taxes imposed by Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act in 2008” a “monstrous handicap” that had driven the steelworks and its 5,000 workers over the precipice.
The Spectator’s editorial said “taxes and levies designed to help Britain meet its self-imposed and unilateral carbon-reduction targets, have worsened Tata’s problems in Britain”. These sentiments were repeated by Dominic Lawson, Christopher Booker and Matt Ridley (part of the GWPF).
- Newspapers like the Times, Sun, Express, Star, Daily Mail and Telegraph regularly promote climate sceptic messages, often based on the work of climate sceptic think tanks and lobbyists
In August 2016 a group of eminent UK scientists criticised the Times for its ‘distorted’ coverage of climate science. They drew attention to how many articles feature Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation. Regular columnist Matt Ridley is a member of the GWPF’s academic advisory council. Times owner Rupert Murdoch said: “We should approach climate change with great scepticism.” Express owner, Richard Desmond is a major donor to UKIP.
- These groups make it easier for the Government, while formally accepting the climate science, to backtrack on climate policies as it has done since 2015.
Since 2015 the Government has ‘cut the green crap’ by removing onshore wind subsidies, making renewables pay additional taxes, massive cuts to solar funding, scrapping the zero carbon homes target, scrapping the Green Deal for home insulation and removing tax incentives for less-polluting cars.
What can you do?
1) Support Advertising Action on Climate Project which urges large companies like BT and M&S to use their influence to discourage climate misinformation in the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Times and Telegraph newspapers.
2) Challenge Trump’s climate scepticism and pro-fossil fuel agenda at UK protests against Trump.
4) Engage in an on-going dialogue with Conservative politicians and voters on climate change. Only a minority are confirmed and vocal climate sceptics, there is another minority –including Committee on Climate Change Chair Lord Deben- who campaign for climate action and the green economy and a large majority who may be open to persuasion.
5) Keep informed about the latest developments of climate science and climate impacts.
6) Challenge the UK Government’s backtracking on climate policies and pro-fossil fuel agenda (in response to pressure from 55 Tufton Street network and their allies and outlets in the ‘Big Six’ UK newspapers)
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