Prospective GB News Board Member is Fossil Fuel Investor

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Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Conservative peer and prospective GB News board member Lord Theodore Agnew. Credit: GB News / YouTube

Lord Agnew is a shareholder in Equinor, the Norwegian oil and gas firm behind the ‘carbon bomb’ Rosebank oil field.

A Conservative peer who is expected to join the board of broadcaster GB News has shares in Equinor, the oil and gas multinational behind the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea. 

According to his parliamentary register of interests, Lord Theodore Agnew has shares of at least £100,000 in Equinor, the Norwegian state-owned energy producer. Equinor has a majority stake in the Rosebank North Sea oil field, which has been dubbed a “carbon bomb” by environmental law charity ClientEarth. 

Agnew is set to replace hedge fund millionaire Paul Marshall on the board of GB News’s parent company All Perspectives Ltd, according to Sky News. 

Marshall is one of the key backers of GB News, holding a 45 percent stake in the company. He is reportedly planning to step back from GB News in order to launch a bid for the Telegraph Media Group, which includes The Telegraph newspaper and The Spectator magazine. 

His withdrawal could potentially throw GB News into turmoil. The startup broadcaster has lost £76 million since its launch in 2021 and relies on the resources of Marshall and its other big stakeholder, UAE-based investment firm Legatum, to survive. Sky News reported that GB News is now preparing to make job cuts as part of a “corporate reorganisation”.

This may have implications for how climate change is covered in the UK. An investigation by DeSmog found that one in three GB News presenters had spread climate science denial on air in 2022, while more than half had attacked climate action.

“It comes as no surprise that members of the GB News board have ties to the oil and gas industry, given the way its presenters have championed continued oil and gas expansion,” said Tessa Khan, director of environmental non-profit Uplift. 

Agnew, a former Cabinet Office minister under Boris Johnson, was in October appointed chair of UnHerd Ventures, another Marshall media vehicle. The company runs UnHerd, a publication founded in 2017 to give a platform to marginalised views.

Agnew also has shares in Carbon Plus Capital, a private investment company which specialises in carbon offsetting “based on the protection of forests”. This involves companies paying to plant trees to “offset” their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Carbon offsetting is a controversial idea that has been criticised by climate campaigners as a form of greenwashing. An investigation published last year by newspapers The Guardian, Die Zeit and non-profit SourceMaterial found that 90 percent of rainforest carbon offsets approved by the world’s largest certifier Verra were “largely worthless” and could actually increase global heating. 

Carbon Plus Capital partner Robin Warwick Edwards is a trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank and the chair of its advisory council. The IEA, a free market group that has advocated for more fossil fuel extraction, received funding from BP for at least 50 years. 

Agnew and Edwards declined to comment. GB News did not respond. 

“Climate denial and investment in the fossil fuel industry go hand in hand”, said Carys Boughton of campaign group Fossil Free Parliament. 

“It makes complete sense that an expected new board member of GB News – a channel absolutely committed to attacking climate science and policy at every turn – is invested in Equinor, a company that, according to research by Oil Change International, ranks eighth worst in the world for its commitment to expanding oil and gas production.”

She added: “By spreading disinformation about the climate crisis, GB News is feeding into the fossil fuel industry’s licence to operate and thus helping to line the pockets of the industry’s shareholders.”

GB News in Turmoil

GB News hosts regularly attack climate policies and the science behind them. 

Numerous GB News presenters have also been vocal about their support for policies that would maintain and even extend the UK’s reliance on oil and gas. 

On 9 December 2022, host Mark Dolan praised West Cumbria Mining’s plan to open a new coal mine in Cumbria. He said the UK should “drill, baby, drill” for coal, oil and gas,  adding: “I think the push for net zero here is another element of liberal progressivism which is infecting the West.”

DeSmog revealed in October that Marshall Wace, the hedge fund run by Paul Marshall, had £1.8 billion invested in fossil fuel companies as of June 2023. This included Chevron, Shell, Equinor, and 109 other fossil fuel companies. 

Marshall reportedly invested £10 million in GB News when it first launched two years ago and, in August 2022, joined the Dubai-based investment firm Legatum Group in a £60 million capital injection and buyout of GB News’s other major investor, Discovery. 

If he joins the All Perspectives board, Agnew would become the latest Conservative politician to be adopted by the right-wing broadcaster. GB News hosts include Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was business and energy secretary under Liz TrussLee Anderson, a former Tory deputy chair who defected to anti-net zero party Reform UK last month, as well as Conservative MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies.  

The All Perspectives board also includes Tory peer Baroness Helena Morrissey and George Farmer, a Reform UK donor and the son of Conservative peer Lord Michael Farmer. 

GB News reported losses of £42 million in the year to May 2023, and £76 million since its launch in 2021. This comes as rival populist channel TalkTV is closing its TV operation and switching to YouTube, having suffered losses of £90 million since it launched in 2022. 

Agnew’s appointment has not been confirmed by Marshall, Agnew or the company. 

“With advertisers steering clear, GB News is haemorrhaging cash – yet they continue to push misleading messages on climate change,” said Richard Wilson, director of the Stop Funding Heat campaign.  

“In the last month alone, GB News commentators have claimed climate change is a ‘social mania’, dismissed climate harms as ‘hypothetical’, and attacked United Nations warnings about the need for urgent climate action as ‘hysteria’.

“Now we learn that a prospective GB News board member has fossil fuel investments”.

He added: “Britain urgently needs a media that supports the public interest – not the interests of a toxic industry that is putting all of our futures at risk”.

Fossil Fuel Projects

Equinor claims it supplies 27 percent of the UK’s energy from oil and gas, and is currently investing $6 billion (£4.8 billion) a year in fossil fuel exploration and drilling. It also says that it powers one million homes in Europe via renewable offshore wind. 

Rosebank is the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, and could produce around 300 million barrels of oil over its lifetime, emitting 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

In October, DeSmog revealed that Equinor urged the UK government to help promote the oil and gas industry, and was one of several companies which lobbied to water down the windfall tax on oil and gas company profits following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The UK government controversially approved the Rosebank project in September, despite the International Energy Agency stating that new oil and gas exploration is incompatible with the ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas labelled the decision “morally obscene”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his address at the COP28 climate summit in December to claim that “climate politics is close to breaking point”, while stating that the UK will meet its net zero targets, “but we’ll do it in a more pragmatic way, which doesn’t burden working people”.

However, a 2023 court case found that the government’s plans only added up to 95 percent of the reductions needed to meet its net zero targets. The Conservative government has said it plans to “max out” the UK’s North Sea oil and gas reserves.

Tessa Khan added: “Those pushing for new oil and gas drilling, whether that’s the UK government, GB News or Equinor, are making things worse for the millions struggling with high energy bills and for those now struggling to cope with the impacts of climate change such as UK farmers – and all just to make a few oil and gas companies and their shareholders even richer.”

DeSmog has previously revealed that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million in donations from fossil fuel interests and climate science deniers in 2022, while two-thirds of the directors in charge of the party’s multi-million-pound endowment fund have a financial interest in oil, gas, and highly polluting industries.

Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil's You May Find Yourself... art auction. Featuring Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch.
Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil’s You May Find Yourself… art auction. Featuring Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch.
Continue ReadingProspective GB News Board Member is Fossil Fuel Investor

Left Foot Forward EXCLUSIVE: Poll shows huge support for nationalisation of key industries and utilities

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Privatisation has failed.

Image of an East Coast train
An East Coast train at King’s Cross station

An exclusive poll for LFF shows huge public support for nationalisation of key industries and utilities, with the public having little confidence in the private sector, showing just how badly privatisation has failed.

Our poll shows that a majority of the public support public ownership of key industries and utilities like energy, water, railways, buses and the postal service – including among Conservative voters.

Buses: 67% want public ownership

67% of voters want to see buses in public ownership, with just 23% wanting private sector involvement. Support for public ownership of buses is highest among 18-24 year olds at 77%, with 64% of those aged 65 and over also supporting public ownership.

When it comes to party affiliation, a majority of Conservative Party voters want to see buses in public ownership (61%) as do Labour voters (72%) and Lib Dem voters (66%).

Water: 73% want public ownership

When it comes to water companies, 73% of voters want public ownership of water companies, compared to 18% who want them to be run by the private sector. Once again, a majority of Tory voters also want to see public ownership (70%) as do Labour voters (81%) and Lib Dem voters (77%). 88% of Green Party voters also want to see water companies taken into public ownership.

Railways: 70% support for public ownership

Energy: 65% want public ownership

Postal service: 70% want public ownership

NHS: 81% want public sector involvement only

Continue ReadingLeft Foot Forward EXCLUSIVE: Poll shows huge support for nationalisation of key industries and utilities

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

Scotland generates record-breaking renewable energy

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Shetland’s biggest Wind Turbine Image © Copyright Andy Waddington and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. able-energy

According to official data, Scotland broke previous records by generating 35.3TWh of renewable electricity in 2022, marking a 28.1% increase from 2021 and 9.8% from 2020. This amount of electricity could power all households in Scotland for over three years. The fourth quarter of 2022 saw the largest increase in renewable electricity generation in Scotland’s history, rising by 14%.

Between September and December 2022, the renewable electricity capacity grew from 13.6GW to 13.8GW. In addition, Scotland’s net electricity exports increased by 17% to 18.7TWh in 2022, with a wholesale market value of approximately £4 billion.

Wind energy was the primary contributor to Scotland’s renewable electricity generation in 2022, accounting for 27.5TWh. Of this amount, 5.8TWh came from offshore wind, while 21.8TWh was generated from onshore wind.

Continue ReadingScotland generates record-breaking renewable energy

Just Stop Oil QEII Bridge activist ‘was delivering climate warning’

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11.15am The video changed shortly after I posted. It was originally far more critical of UK government and urging people to take action, far more like this one ;)

A Just Stop Oil protester has told jurors he climbed the Dartford Crossing bridge to deliver a “warning message”.

Morgan Trowland, 40, of Islington, north London, and Marcus Decker, 34, of no fixed address, are on trial accused of causing a public nuisance.

The court has heard the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, linking the M25 in Essex and Kent, was closed between 04:00 BST on 17 October and 21:00 the following day.

“We climbed it to deliver a warning message – to put up a banner saying ‘Just Stop Oil’ and to speak that message through interviews with journalists,” he told Basildon Crown Court.

Continue ReadingJust Stop Oil QEII Bridge activist ‘was delivering climate warning’