‘Morally Obscene’: UK Approves Massive Undeveloped Oil and Gas Field in North Sea

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Campaigners take part in a Stop Rosebank emergency protest outside the U.K. Government building in Edinburgh, after the controversial Equinor Rosebank North Sea oil field was given the go-ahead Wednesday, September 27, 2023. (Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Campaigners take part in a Stop Rosebank emergency protest outside the U.K. Government building in Edinburgh, after the controversial Equinor Rosebank North Sea oil field was given the go-ahead Wednesday, September 27, 2023. (Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

“The disgraceful decision to give Rosebank the green light shows the extent of the U.K. government’s climate denial,” one activist said.

Regulators in the United Kingdom on Wednesday greenlit the Rosebank oilfield in the North Sea, which campaigners warn contains enough oil and gas to match the yearly emissions of 28 low-income countries.

The U.K. government said it welcomed the approval, in a statement that comes one week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was delaying some elements of the country’s net-zero plan.

“By approving Rosebank, Rishi Sunak has confirmed he couldn’t care less about climate change,” climate lawyer and executive director of the advocacy group Uplift Tessa Khan said in a statement. “As we’ve heard repeatedly, our world can no longer sustain new oil and gas drilling. And when we’re witnessing scorching temperatures, wildfires, devastating flooding, and heatwaves in our seas, it could not be clearer that this is a decision by the prime minister to add more fuel to the fire.”

Rosebank, which is located off the northwest coast of the Shetland Islands, is the largest currently undeveloped oil field in the U.K., CNBCreported. Equinor, Norway’s state-owned oil company, has an 80% share in the project, with British company Ithaca Energy holding the remaining 20%.

Equinor said it expected development to begin in 2026-2027 and for the field to produce more than 300 million barrels of oil overall, while Friends of the Earth Scotland said it contained 500 million barrels.

The approval comes despite the fact that the International Energy Agency concluded in 2021 that no new fossil fuel projects should be launched if world leaders wanted to limit global heating to 1.5°C. It also comes on the heels of a government report finding that a record number of people in England died of heat-related causes in 2022.

“This decision is nothing but carte blanche to fossil fuel companies to ruin the climate, punish bill payers, and siphon off obscene profits.”

Green Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas called the approval “the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime” in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This is morally obscene,” she added in a second post. “It won’t improve energy security or lower bills—but it will shatter our climate commitments and demolish global leadership. Govt is complicit in this climate crime—as is Labour unless they pledge to do all possible to revoke it.”

Sunak, a conservative, promised to approve hundreds of oil and gas drilling licenses in the North Sea in July, arguing it was necessary for energy security. The opposition Labour Party says it will prioritize renewable energy if it takes power, but will respect any licenses or approvals already in place, according to Reuters.

“The disgraceful decision to give Rosebank the green light shows the extent of the U.K. government’s climate denial,” Friends of the Earth Scotland’s oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said in a statement. “Fossil fuels are driving both climate breakdown and the cost of living crisis yet the U.K. Government is slamming its foot down on the accelerator.”

Aitchison also called on the Scottish government specifically to oppose the project.

“Delivering a fair and fast transition away from fossil fuels is one of the defining challenges of Humza Yousaf’s term as First Minister,” Aitchison said. “This must start with unequivocally condemning Rosebank and opposing the U.K. government’s decision to go ahead with a project that deliberately prioritizes the interests of Equinor while bringing little or no benefit to Scottish people.”

Campaigners also questioned who would benefit from the project. While the government argued that it would inject cash into the economy and create almost 1,600 jobs, activists pointed out that Equinor made £62 billion in pre-tax profits last year and would get more than £3.75 billion in tax breaks for its work on Rosebank, meaning the U.K. would ultimately lose £750 million in tax money from the field’s development.

“The ugly truth is that Sunak is pandering to vested interests, demonstrating the stranglehold the fossil fuel lobby has on government decision-making. And it’s bill payers and the climate that will suffer because of it,” Greenpeace U.K. climate campaigner Philip Evans said in a statement. “Why else would he make such a reckless decision?

“This decision is nothing but carte blanche to fossil fuel companies to ruin the climate, punish bill payers, and siphon off obscene profits,” Evans added.

Opponents of the project have promised to take legal action to stop it.

“There are strong grounds to believe that the way this government has come to this decision is unlawful,” Khan said in a statement. “We shouldn’t have to fight this government for cheap, clean energy, and a liveable climate, but we will.”

Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Morally Obscene’: UK Approves Massive Undeveloped Oil and Gas Field in North Sea

‘Dangerous and Desperate’: Sunak’s Net-Zero Flip Condemned by Left, Right, and Center

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Original article by Brett Wilkins republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

One of the many occasions UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak uses a private jet.
One of the many occasions UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak uses a private jet.

“Sunak’s U-turn today will be devastating for the people of the U.K. and for the planet we call home,” warned one Scottish Green. “It’s nothing short of evil.”

Critics across the political spectrum—from Conservative members of Parliament and corporations to Greens and climate campaigners—reacted with anger and resolve Wednesday following the announcement by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that his Tory government would retreat from some of its key net-zero commitments.

Speaking Wednesday at the Downing Street Press Briefing Room in London, Sunak said his government is still committed to reaching net-zero by 2050, but in a “more proportionate way” that would bring a “greener planet and a more prosperous future.”

The rollback will reportedly include delaying a ban on the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030 to 2035, pushing back the phaseout of gas boilers, scrapping energy efficiency targets for some homes, dropping recycling plans, and canceling a planned air travel tax.

“This is a U-turn that will leave the Tories facing in the opposite direction of almost everyone, and finally end their hopes of reelection.”

“No one can deny climate change is happening,” Sunak said, adding that the county needs “sensible green leadership” instead of false choices that “never go beyond a slogan.”

However, Conservative peer Lord Zac Goldsmith — who resigned his ministerial post earlier this summer due to what he called Sunak’s climate “apathy” — called the prime minister’s reversal “a moment of shame.”

“His short stint as PM will be remembered as the moment the U.K. turned its back on the world and on future generations,” he added.

Shadow Climate Secretary Ed Miliband led Labour condemnation of the reversal, which he called “a complete farce from a Tory government that literally does not know what they are doing day to day.”

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas slammed what she called Sunak’s “coordinated, calculated, and catastrophic rollback.”

“What this all reveals is that Sunak really doesn’t seem to care about the climate in the slightest—it’s little more than an afterthought,” Lucas wrote in a Guardian opinion piece published Wednesday.

Sunak must call a general election by January 2025, and his Tories are trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls amid persistently high inflation, slow economic growth, and rising inequality.

“If Sunak mistakenly thinks the climate is merely a political device to draw dividing lines between his party and Labour, he will fail on his own terms,” wrote Lucas. “All it will do is draw an ever-greater divide between him and the people he seeks to govern.”

Climate campaigners roundly condemned Sunak’s decision.

“The government needs to double down now, not U-turn,” Kennedy Walker, a U.K. organizer with the climate action group 350.org, said in a statement. “We have the opportunity to show what a transition to a greener economy that works for people and the planet can look like; we need to hold leadership to account to make sure it happens and they follow through on their own promises.”

Riffing on the government’s “long-term decisions for a brighter future” slogan, Extinction Rebellion U.K. wrote on the social media site X: “Short-term decisions for a shitter future. Remember, this government took £3.5 million in donations from Big Oil and other industries before licensing new gas and oil.”

Many companies including automaker Ford and energy giant E.ON joined in criticism of the rollback.

“Our business needs three things from the U.K. government: ambition, commitment, and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three,” Ford U.K. chair Lisa Brankin said Wednesday. “We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong: infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom, and cost-of-living is high.”

Some critics noted that Sunak’s announcement came on the same day the leaders of many nations—but not Britain or the world’s two top carbon polluters, China and the United States—gathered in New York for the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit.

“We’re in a climate emergency. The deadly impacts of climate change are here now and we have to act urgently,” Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan—the only U.K. speaker at the summit — told The Guardian Wednesday. “We have seen record high temperatures in London earlier this month and the hottest ever July. Over the last two years, we have experienced unprecedented wildfires and flash floods, destroying homes and livelihoods.”

“This government’s response flies in the face of common sense and shows they are climate delayers,” Khan added. “It beggars belief that not only are they watering down vital commitments, but they are also passing up the opportunity to create green jobs, wealth, and lower energy bills—as well as failing to give investors the certainty they need to boost the green economy.”

Sunak’s reversal also infuriated many people in Scotland.

“Rishi Sunak has blood on his hands,” National Union of Students Scotland president and Scottish Young Greens co-convener Ellie Gomersall toldThe National. “His excuse? It’s too costly. Well then all the more kudos to the Scottish government who are still moving forward with net-zero policies like low-emission zones, phasing out gas boilers, cheaper public transport, all the while on a budget severely restrained by the confines of devolution.”

“And of course when the Scottish government does try to implement simple yet effective measures like a deposit return scheme, Westminster comes along and blocks it,” she added. “Sunak’s U-turn today will be devastating for the people of the U.K. and for the planet we call home. It’s nothing short of evil.”

Alistair Heather, a Scottish writer and TV presenter, told The National that he was “almost pleased” by Sunak’s announcement.

“This is a U-turn that will leave the Tories facing in the opposite direction of almost everyone, and finally end their hopes of reelection,” he explained. “For mainstream voters, who understand that a clear, urgent movement of travel towards a green future is the best chance we have of mitigating the worst effects of the climate collapse, the Tories have made themselves completely unelectable. Good… Fuck the Tories. Mon the independence.”

“With the Left AWOL, our species is being quick-marched to extinction.”

The outrage was felt far beyond U.K. shores.

“At a time when the U.K. should be providing global leadership in transitioning off fossil fuels, especially in recognition of the impact its historical emissions have had in bringing about the climate crisis, the U.K. government is considering backtracking on already insufficient commitments,” 350.org Europe regional director Nicolò Wojewoda said in a statement.

Yanis Varoufakis, a former Greek finance minister who heads the left-wing MeRA25 party, wrote on X that “Sunak’s U-turn is a reflection of the total Europe-wide collapse of the market-based, neoliberal consensus on how to tackle the climate crisis. It marks the center‐right’s new path.”

“And with the Left AWOL,” he added, “our species is being quick-marched to extinction.”

Original article by Brett Wilkins republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Dangerous and Desperate’: Sunak’s Net-Zero Flip Condemned by Left, Right, and Center

Climate change: Rishi Sunak must reject Rosebank oil field and join the countries calling for fossil fuels to be urgently phased out – cross-party group of politicians

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Politicians from all the main political parties have written an open letter to Rishi Sunak calling on him to prioritise action on climate change

Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps
Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps

By Caroline Lucas, Hilary Benn, Lord Goldsmith, Daisy Cooper, Tommy Sheppard and others

Published 25th Jul 2023, 14:42 BST

Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to you with an urgent call to action. In just 129 days, world leaders will gather in Dubai for the United Nations climate summit COP28. Since countries last gathered in Egypt for COP27, the impacts of climate breakdown have become frighteningly common, with experts predicting a temporary overshoot of the 1.5C limit between now and 2027. Going forward we cannot be complacent in tackling climate change, for there is simply no time left to waste. Instead, we must step up, work together, and strengthen the momentum to keep 1.5C alive.

COP28 in Dubai this November must be the moment that the global community agrees to urgently phase out fossil fuels. For this to happen, the UK has an important role to play in leveraging its international influence, and working constructively with all parties, to help secure an agreed package that clearly names the requirement to phase out all fossil fuels and set goals for the upscaling of renewables. There must also be a clear commitment to ensuring that fairness and justice run at the heart of the global energy transition, and a clear focus on addressing the root cause of the climate crisis: fossil fuel production. And, above all, there can be no room for distractions or false solutions.

Working to guarantee a successful outcome at COP28 is not just essential for the health of people and the planet, but economically the right thing for Britain. As the Office for Budget Responsibility advised last week, continuing to rely on gas at the current level will come at double the cost of transitioning to net zero. Equally, as you were recently warned by top energy companies: backing away from green policies would be catastrophic for the economy. We know that pursuing a clean energy economy brings with it the potential to create jobs, address regional inequality and, perhaps most importantly in the context of extraordinarily high gas prices, it can provide permanent energy affordability and security for the whole country. This is why over 95 per cent of voters placed their confidence in parties committed to reaching net zero by 2050 or sooner at the last election.

The UK has a proud, cross-party, history of being a first mover on green issues. From being the first country in the world to pass a Climate Change Act in 2008, to the first major economy to legislate for net zero by 2050 in 2019, we should be proud of this record. And let’s not forget the outcomes at COP26, which happened under the UK’s leadership, that helped to make significant advancements towards protecting nature and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Climate Change Committee’s recent 2023 Progress Report to Parliament is unequivocal that mixed signals on the UK’s commitment to serious climate action are undermining this work, damaging our reputation, and risks us permanently surrendering our status as a world leader on climate action.

Now is a crucial moment for you to demonstrate to the world that the UK is not demoting itself to become a passive observer in international action on climate change, that we remain a trusted partner and committed to delivering on our promises. Therefore, we are asking you to:

● Attend the COP28 summit in person and appoint a Secretary of State-level UK Climate Envoy ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in September. This would send a clear statement to the world that tackling climate change is a priority for you and your government and will help to ensure that the UK is properly represented in critical global climate discussion. Your championing of COP28, and your attendance, would encourage other heads of state and governments to do the same.

● Support our allies in calling for an end to the fossil fuel era and move more quickly towards a clean energy world by joining other countries such as Denmark, France, Germany, and others in championing the need for an “urgent phase out of fossil fuels”. As recommended by the CCC, the UK should also set out a clear position and plan to move beyond oil and gas through a just transition, and strengthen the UK’s language on this in all international climate fora, such as the G7, G20 and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit in September, which we also hope you attend. Doing this will drastically improve the chances of a meaningful outcome in Dubai later this year.

● Demonstrate leadership by taking action at home including by rejecting the expansion of new fossil fuels which the CCC is clear are not compatible with net zero. In line with the report’s arguments, Lord Deben, the CCC’s outgoing chair, has asserted that new fossil fuel developments are both “unnecessary” for the UK and a “bad example” to the world. In light of this, we believe that the government must reject new fossil fuel infrastructure including the Rosebank oil field which will do nothing to enhance energy security because the field is 90 per cent oil, likely for export, and therefore won’t save households money on their energy bills either. Instead, the government should concentrate its efforts on making action on net zero easier, including by lifting the ban on onshore wind, embedding a net-zero test across government and within the planning system, and accelerating the rollout of energy efficiency measures which will bring bills down permanently.

● Not to forget nature. There is no pathway to a zero-carbon society without nature, no better ally to fight climate change than forests, peatlands, and other ecosystems. The UK must reaffirm its commitment to the Glasgow Leaders Declaration and continue accelerating momentum to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

Prime Minister, we want you to know that in working to achieve net zero both at home and abroad, you have the support of an overwhelming majority of not just Parliament, but the country too. We also want to remind you that consistently prioritising climate action is a job for all governments today, not tomorrow.

We look forward to seeing how you respond to the asks we have set out and hope that, come November, the UK government is once again positioned as a climate leader on the world stage backed up by the delivery of an ambitious agenda at home.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas MP chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change, Rt Hon. Hilary Benn MP Former Secretary of State at Defra, Rt Hon. Lord Goldsmith, Former International Environment Minister at FCDO, Daisy Cooper MP Liberal Democrat, Deputy Leader, Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Net Zero, Baroness Parminter, chair, House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee, Olivia Blake MP, Pauline Latham MP, Rt Hon. Lord Randall, Clive Lewis MP, Nadia Whittome MP, Baroness Boycott, Zarah Sultana MP, Rachael Maskell MP, Baroness Bennett, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Tommy Sheppard MP, Baroness Young, Christina Rees MP, Martyn Day MP, Baroness Willis, Barry Gardiner MP, and Lord Teverson.


Continue ReadingClimate change: Rishi Sunak must reject Rosebank oil field and join the countries calling for fossil fuels to be urgently phased out – cross-party group of politicians

Conservatives Received £3.5 Million from Polluters, Fossil Fuel Interests and Climate Deniers in 2022

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Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines.

The governing party has accepted millions in “dirty donations” while watering down its net zero commitments.

BySam Bright on Mar 30, 2023 @ 07:02 PDT

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps. Credit: Simon Dawson / 10 Downing Street, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Individuals and entities linked to climate denial, fossil fuels and high pollution industries donated more than £3.5 million to the Conservative Party last year, DeSmog can reveal.

Electoral Commission records show that the party and its MPs received considerable sums from the highly polluting aviation and construction industries, mining and oil interests, and individuals linked to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank that denies climate science.

This revelation comes on the government’s supposed ‘green day’, when it has announced a long list of policies on energy and the transition to net zero. 

However, rather than strengthen the commitment to the government’s legally binding climate targets, the policies are expected to entrench the role of fossil fuels in the UK’s energy system.

The government’s updated measures include a plan to loosen restrictions on oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, in which it says “we remain absolutely committed to maximising the vital production of UK oil and gas as the North Sea basin declines”.

The government’s failure to act on a number of key recommendations in the net zero review conducted by Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, along with a legal challenge to the UK’s climate plans, has prompted outrage from green campaigners. 

“It’s clear this is not a strategy, just an assembly of lobby interests,” Tom Burke, a co-founder of the E3G think tank told The Guardian earlier this week.

Caroline Lucas told DeSmog that the government’s net zero announcements were becoming “muddier and murkier by the moment”. 

The government’s green day “couldn’t be any more of a misnomer, when the Conservative Party is raking in millions of pounds’ worth of dirty donations from fossil fuel interests and climate deniers”, she added.

High-Pollution Industries

Aviation entrepreneur Christopher Harborne donated the largest total sum to the Conservatives in 2022, gifting £1.5 million to the party, which had an income of £31.7 million for the year ending 2021.

Harborne is the owner of AML Global, an aviation fuel supplier operating in 1,200 locations across the globe with a distribution network that includes “main and regional oil companies”, according to its website. Harborne is also the CEO of Sheriff Global Group, which trades in private jets. 

Aviation emissions accounted for eight percent of the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions before the pandemic, according to the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Harborne has previously provided gifts to Conservative MP Steve Baker, who co-founded an anti-green group of back benchers, the Net Zero Scrutiny Group. Harborne has also donated some £6.5 million to the Brexit Party – now Reform UK – whose co-founder Nigel Farage has called for a referendum on the government’s net zero targets. Harborne has rarely spoken about the climate crisis, so the details of his personal views are unknown. 

Harborne and all those cited in this article have been approached for comment. 

One of the largest donations to the party in 2022 came from Mark Bamford, a member of the JCB construction dynasty, who gave £973,000. The JCB group, a multinational firm that manufactures equipment for construction, also donated more than £36,000 to the party during the year. 

According to the government’s Environmental Audit Committee, the UK’s built environment is responsible for 25 percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and “there has been a lack of government impetus or policy levers to assess and reduce these emissions”. The construction industry is also responsible for 18 percent of large particle pollution in the UK, a figure that rises to 30 percent in London, according to a recent report by Impact on Urban Health (IoUH) and the Centre for Low Emission Construction (CLEC).

Fossil Fuel Interests

The Conservative Party also received considerable sums from those directly tied to the fossil fuel industry. 

This included more than £62,000 from Nova Venture Holdings, a firm wholly owned by Jacques Tohme, who describes himself as an “energy investor” on LinkedIn and lists his current role as co-founder and director of Tailwind Energy, an oil and gas company. 

According to its website, Tailwind focuses on “maximis[ing] value in UK continental shelf (UKCS) opportunities”, an area which includes the North Sea. Serica Energy reportedly has an agreement in place to buy Tailwind, which will make Serica one of the 10 largest North Sea oil and gas producers. 

The party also received £10,000 from Alan Lusty, the CEO of Adi Group, a “leading supplier of engineering services to the petrochemical industry”. These services “add significant value to petrochemical engineering companies”, Adi says, though the firm claims “to work towards delivering a low-carbon economy” through its products. Adi also provides engineering services to the aerospace and automotive industries. 

Centrax, a firm that manufactures gas turbines, also gifted £35,000 to the Conservatives. 

A further £23,900 was raised from Amjad Bseisu, the CEO of EnQuest, an oil and gas company. Bseisu has lobbied for support to maximise the exploration for fossil fuels in the North Sea, where EnQuest operates.

During the course of his Conservative leadership bid last summer, Rishi Sunak personally received £25,000 from Mick Davis – a mining tycoon and former CEO of the Conservative Party. Davis was the CEO of Xstrata, an Anglo-Swiss firm that specialised in coal production, among other things, before it was acquired by the commodities giant Glencore in 2013. 

Sunak received a further £38,000 from Lord Michael Farmer, who founded the Red Kite metals trading and investment firm. According to his register of interests, Lord Farmer currently holds shares in Shell, BP, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation – an oil and gas company. Lord Farmer donated a further £50,000 directly to the Conservative Party in 2022. 

Sunak’s leadership opponent Liz Truss was also the beneficiary of donations linked to the fossil fuel industry. Truss received £100,000, her largest single donation, from Fitriani Hay, a former director of Fosroc, which provides “construction solutions” to the oil and gas industry. Her husband, James Hay, is a former executive at the oil supermajor BP. 

Truss also received substantial donations from individuals linked to groups lobbying for fracking regulations to be relaxed. 

Lord Michael Spencer donated £286,000 to the Conservatives during the year, both personally and via his family firm IPGL, including a £25,000 donation to the Truss campaign. Lord Spencer, a reported billionaire, holds shares in several oil and gas companies.

Lord John Nash likewise donated £55,000 to the party, with the peer’s register of interests listing him as a shareholder in Shell and BHP.

Links to Climate Denial

Individuals and firms with close ties to the GWPF, an organisation that denies climate science, also helped to finance the Conservative Party last year. 

This included Sir Michael Hintze, who donated £17,500 to the party and one of its MPs, Brandon Lewis. While Hintze avoids public statements on climate change, he was one of the early funders of the GWPF – an anti-green organisation that opposes what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” to mitigate climate change.

As revealed by DeSmog, Conservative MP Steve Baker received £5,000 from Neil Record in January 2022. Record is the chair of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the campaign arm of the GWPF, and has donated to the organisation. 

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt and Home Secretary Suella Braverman each received £10,000 in 2022 from First Corporate Consultants, owned by Terence Mordaunt, who sits on the board of the GWPF. Penny Mordaunt has previously distanced herself from the views of her namesake and donor in relation to climate change. 

Net Zero Review

At least 60 new measures were unveiled today, focused on energy supply and the transition to net zero. The policies were previously set for a public launch in Aberdeen, the de facto capital of the UK’s oil and gas industry, before an outcry from green campaigners forced a re-think.

The government’s updated net zero policies are partly a response to a successful legal challenge, which proved that the government had failed to disclose sufficient details of how its climate goals will be achieved.

The revamped strategy is also a response to the net zero review commissioned from Chris Skidmore by former Prime Minister Liz Truss, released in January. 

The government has defied several of Skidmore’s recommendations, such as refusing to ban flaring by 2025. Flaring is the process whereby fossil fuel extractors burn off the gas that comes out of the ground while drilling for oil.

Announcements have included the continued expansion of North Sea oil and gas exploration. The North Sea Transition Authority has this week announced that it is advocating new measures to “speed up North Sea oil and gas production” by “streamlin[ing] the buying and selling of assets”.

Green campaigners have suggested that the government’s updated plans continue to fall short of its climate targets – risking further legal action. 

On Wednesday, the CCC released a new report on the UK’s climate change adaptation – saying that the country is “strikingly unprepared” for the impacts of global heating. 

Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, said: “The Government’s lack of urgency on climate resilience is in sharp contrast to the recent experience of people in this country. People, nature and infrastructure face damaging impacts as climate change takes hold. These impacts will only intensify in the coming decades”.

Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines.

Continue ReadingConservatives Received £3.5 Million from Polluters, Fossil Fuel Interests and Climate Deniers in 2022

Tufton Street Linked Donors Have Given £630,000 to the Conservatives Since Sunak Became Prime Minister

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Financial, ideological and senior staff ties are still channelling the interests of opaquely funded think tanks into the heart of government.

The Conservative Party has received in excess of £600,000 since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister from four board members at leading Tufton Street ‘think tanks’, a new DeSmog analysis shows.

The data also shows that free market groups based in Tufton Street, Westminster, have retained significant influence in Sunak’s administration. More than half a dozen Tufton Street alumni currently serve as special advisers to the government, while seven ministers have appeared at events hosted by Tufton Street groups since Sunak became prime minister in October. 

These groups have often acted as a blocker to climate action. All are known for their anti-big-state and pro-fracking views, while their anti-green stances range from opposition to state-led climate intervention to active climate science denial. Previous reports indicate that Tufton Street groups have received substantial funds from organisations that support climate science denial in the past decade, with some donations provided directly by fossil fuel firms.

The joint-largest donation to the Conservatives during this period was made by Graham Edwards, a board member at the influential Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). He gave £500,000 in December 2022 – the same month that he was appointed as Tory treasurer, responsible for party fundraising.

Other CPS board members – Lord Michael Spencer and Lord Anthony Bamford – have also donated £100,000 and £10,000 to the party respectively since Sunak became prime minister. Lord Spencer donated via his family holding company, IPGL, while Lord Bamford’s donation is linked to his construction conglomerate, JCB.

As revealed by DeSmog this week, a firm owned by a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – one of the UK’s principal climate science denial groups – also donated £20,000 in March to House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt and Conservative MP Liam Fox. 

The CPS, which is based out of 57 Tufton Street, is a leading member of the network. This alliance of free market think tanks and lobby groups catapulted into public consciousness last autumn for its outsized influence over former Prime Minister Liz Truss and ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, whose ‘mini budget’ on 23 September 2022 caused market panic and a dramatic fall in the value of the pound. 

The funding of Tufton Street groups is notoriously opaque. Every single one of its members was given the lowest transparency rating – E – by openDemocracy’s ‘Who Funds You?’ 2022 report into think tanks. Tufton Street groups have earned £6 million collectively in their latest accounting periods.

“It’s time to kick toxic fossil fuel interests out of politics once and for all,” Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, told DeSmog. “This government’s murky ties to Tufton Street have barely diminished since Liz Truss’s economy-wrecking mini budget fiasco. When we face a rapidly closing window of opportunity to tackle the climate emergency, there are still countless climate-denying and delaying influences right at the heart of government.”


Continue ReadingTufton Street Linked Donors Have Given £630,000 to the Conservatives Since Sunak Became Prime Minister