New Liz Truss Faction ‘Pops’ With Climate Science Denial and Fossil Fuel Ties

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Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson and Liz Truss at the launch of ‘Popular Conservatism’. Credit: PA Images / Alamy

The launch of Popular Conservatism saw attacks on “net zero zealots” and the Climate Change Committee.

Liz Truss’s new ‘Popular Conservatism’ faction of the Conservative Party launched today with attacks on net zero targets and environmental bodies, using the playbook established by libertarian lobby groups.

The self-styled PopCons included politicians critical of climate policies and science, including Lord Frost, who is a director of the climate science denial Global Warming Policy Foundation, as well as Conservative MP Lee Anderson and Reform party president Nigel Farage

PopCon director Mark Littlewood is the outgoing managing director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), an influential free market think tank that has talked up its access to government. 

The IEA received funding from oil company BP every year from 1967 to 2018, according to an Unearthed investigation confirmed by the IEA. Both IEA and BP have declined to say if this funding continues, when asked by DeSmog. 

A branded leaflet handed out at the event, under the heading “what we stand for”, stated: “End net zero zealotry and promote energy pragmatism to provide both security of supply and low prices”. 

The leaflet also named the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the government’s independent advisory body on hitting its climate targets, as one of the institutions which “stand in the way of meaningful reform”.  

Littlewood’s speech criticised the UK’s net zero target, complaining about “the Climate Change Committee, pronouncing on our progress to the eye-wateringly [sic] expensive and almost certainly unachievable aim of being carbon net zero”. 

Lee Anderson, former deputy chair of the Conservative Party, repeatedly attacked net zero in his speech, which he claimed “never comes up on the doorstep” aside from when it is brought up by “the odd weirdo”.

Anderson said: “if we became net zero tomorrow, this country… it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the earth’s atmosphere”, pointing to the higher emissions produced by other countries. 

Anderson argued that net zero would cost voters money, calling for an “opt-in, opt-out” approach to what he called “green levies” on energy bills, adding: “Not one politician can put their hand on their hearts and tell you how much it’s [net zero] going to cost.”

The CCC has estimated the cost of net zero at less than one percent of GDP, while the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that “the costs of failing to get climate change under control would be much larger than those of bringing emissions down to net zero”.

Liz Truss used her speech to say: “If we look at the net zero zealots that Lee has just been talking about, the need for cheaper energy is being drowned out by some very active campaigners.” She claimed voters “don’t like the net zero policies which are making energy more expensive”. 

The International Monetary Fund found in September 2022 that the energy crisis was hitting UK households harder than any country in western Europe, due to the UK’s reliance on gas for heating homes.

Politicians fronting the PopCon group have a history of working with anti-green think tanks and supporting more fossil fuel extraction. 

Truss (who went to the University of Oxford with Littlewood) has extensive ties to the IEA, which is part of the Tufton Street network – a cluster of libertarian pressure groups and think tanks that oppose state-led climate action.

In 2022, Truss’s campaign for Tory leader was run by Ruth Porter, a former communications director at the IEA. Once in 10 Downing Street, Truss hired Porter as her senior special advisor, and has since appointed her to the House of Lords. A number of former Tufton Street figures were appointed to government advisory roles during Truss’s short-lived tenure in Downing Street.

The IEA publicly supported Truss’s ‘mini-budget’, which caused economic chaos by promising large tax cuts without explaining how they would be funded. While in office, Truss lifted the UK’s ban on fracking for shale gas, a policy advocated by the IEA. (The policy was ditched by her successor Rishi Sunak.) 

The IEA has consistently opposed UK government climate policies, preferring “market solutions”. In October 2022, IEA executive Andy Mayer said the government should “get rid of” its net zero target, which he called a “very hard left, socialist, central-planning model”.

During her 2022 leadership campaign, Truss received £5,000 from Lord Vinson, one of the few known funders of the Tufton Street-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s main climate science denial group. 

Rees-Mogg also has a long record of opposing climate policies. Earlier this month he said: “the current headlong rush to net zero risks impoverishing the nation to no global benefit on emissions”.

The UK government’s legally-binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 is part of international efforts to keep global warming below 1.5C. 

As Business and Energy Secretary in 2022, Rees-Mogg supported overturning the UK’s ban on fracking, and said “we have to stop demonising oil and gas” in a meeting with the UAE’s state investment company. 

He also receives around £29,000 per month to host a show on right-wing broadcaster GB News. A DeSmog investigation last year found one in three GB News hosts spread climate science denial on air in 2022, while more than half attacked net zero policies. The channel‘s co-owner, Paul Marshall, has £1.8 billion invested in fossil fuels via his investment fund Marshall Wace.

Science Denial

Several figures with ties to climate science denial turned out for the PopCon launch. They included Lord Frost, a trustee of the GWPF who last year said global warming could be “beneficial”, along with Dame Andrea Jenkyns, who sits on the board of the GWPF’s campaign arm, Net Zero Watch

The IEA and GWPF have both received funding from Neil Record, a Conservative donor who was IEA chairman until July 2023 and remains chair of Net Zero Watch. Record has donated thousands to Tory MP Steve Baker, an IEA ally and former GWPF trustee who has claimed much climate science is “contestable” and “propagandised”. 

The PopCon launch was also attended by GB News host Nigel Farage, honorary president of right-wing party Reform UK, which campaigns to “scrap net zero”. Last year the party received £135,000 from donors who spread climate denial or had fossil fuel interests. Reform leader Richard Tice has claimed that “CO2 isn’t poison; it’s plant food”.

Farage posed for a photo at the PopCon event with Lois Perry, director of climate denial group CAR26, who is running for leader of UKIP and last month said she does not believe in human-caused climate change. 

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

Liz Truss attacks ‘left-wing extremists’ at Tory PopCon launch 

Addressing the audience Truss made a series of bizarre attacks on the Left, taking aim at “wokeism” and said the Tories had failed to “take on the left-wing extremists”. 

“Wokeism seems to be on the curriculum,” said Truss. “There is confusion about basic biological facts, like what is a woman. 

“Look at the net zero zealots, if you listen to the Today programme, I don’t recommend it, you’ll hear demands for more public spending.”

Truss went on to warn that the left were “on the march and actively organising”. 

“These people have repurposed themselves, they don’t believe they are socialist or communists anymore. They say they’re environmentalists, they say they’re in favour of helping people across all communities, they are in favour of supporting LGBT people or groups of ethnic minorities. 

“So they no longer admit that they are collectivists but that is what their ideology is about.” 

She went on to claim that anti-capitalists were being “pandered to” by the Government and that Conservative values were being eroded and said it was “only through Conservative values that we can give the British people what they want”, however fell short on saying what this was exactly. 

Liz Truss attacks ‘left-wing extremists’ at Tory PopCon launch 

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

Truss summons ‘Secret Tories’ to fight Davos and Left

Former prime minister Liz Truss during the launch of the Popular Conservatism movement at the Emmanuel Centre in central London, in a bid to rally right-wing Tory MPs ahead of a general election this year, February 6, 2024

Running through a list of enemies almost longer than her catastrophic time in Downing Street, Ms Truss nevertheless claimed that Britain was “full of secret Conservatives — people who agree with us but don’t want to admit it,” while the Tory party had been appeasing “left-wing extremists.”

Painting a picture of a world on the edge of socialism, the former prime minister, best known for crashing the economy in a matter of days, asserted that “the left have been on the march.”

“They have been on the march in our institutions, they have been on the march in our corporate world, they are on the march globally,” she claimed.

Taking on this menace and “changing the system itself” will require “resilience and bravery,” Ms Truss added.

Unfortunately, rather than resilience and bravery, she had to hand only Lee Anderson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, former frontbenchers taking a break from their present gigs on GB News.

Truss summons ‘Secret Tories’ to fight Davos and Left

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Continue ReadingNew Liz Truss Faction ‘Pops’ With Climate Science Denial and Fossil Fuel Ties

Venture Fund Set to ‘Take Control’ of Telegraph Has Fossil Fuel Investments

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Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

The group, which reportedly has UAE state backing, is leading the race to buy the British newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph front page. Credit: Steven May / Alamy

The investment fund that has reportedly reached an agreement to buy the Telegraph Media Group has stakes in several oil and gas companies, DeSmog can report. 

U.S.-based RedBird Capital has entered into a joint venture to take control of The Telegraph alongside International Media Investments (IMI) of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The two groups have reportedly agreed to provide loans to The Telegraph’s existing owners, the Barclay family, to allow them to pay off their £1.16 billion debt to Lloyds Banking Group. The family lost control of The Telegraph and the Spectator magazine, which is also part of the media group, earlier this year due to this outstanding debt. 

News reports suggest that the deal is being backed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who serves as the deputy prime minister of the UAE, the head of its state-owned investment company, and the owner of Manchester City football club.

Conservative MPs have voiced concerns over the potential purchase and the danger of foreign influence, asking the UK government to use national security laws to investigate the agreement. Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has echoed these concerns, warning that the deal could undermine “free expression of opinion” and prevent the “accurate presentation of the news”.

The UAE is a petrostate that has the world’s largest oil expansion plans. The state-owned energy company, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), intends to increase its oil production by more than any other fossil fuel firm in the world, according to data from the Global Oil and Gas Exit List (Gogel). Adnoc said that Gogel’s data and assumptions were “incorrect and misleading” but has not provided its own figures.

RedBird-IMI has said that, under its proposal, The Telegraph and Spectator will be managed by RedBird Capital “alone” and IMI would be a “passive investor”.

RedBird Capital trades in a number of core investment sectors, including energy. The firm’s website states that it holds investments in at least six fossil fuel firms: Aethon United, CapturePoint, FireBird Energy, Four Corners Petroleum, Lambda Energy Resources, and Tally Energy Services.

All of these companies are based in the U.S., with a majority operating in Texas.

Aethon United was listed by Enverus Intelligence Research as one of the most prolific private oil and gas producers in the U.S. in 2023. It was reported in 2022 that the firm was considering a public listing that would value it at more than $10 billion.

CapturePoint specialises in carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), a favoured technology of the fossil fuel industry that it claims will help to limit global warming. The RedBird website claims that CapturePoint is “building out a carbon capture network on the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest”.

There is limited evidence of the efficacy of CCUS at scale. DeSmog recently analysed 12 large-scale CCUS projects around the world and found countless missed carbon capture targets, as well as cost overruns, with taxpayers picking up the tab via billions of dollars in subsidies. Meanwhile, captured carbon is often merely used to extract more oil. 

“If this deal goes through, it will pollute our press and the UK’s fight against climate breakdown,” Alexander Kirk, fossil fuels campaigner at Global Witness, told DeSmog.

RedBird Capital also holds an investment in Majority Strategies, a political strategy firm that claims to have worked for every official Republican presidential nominee since 2000. Majority Strategies received more than $27 million during the 2022 election cycle, including $9.2 million from the Republican Senate Leadership Fund. 

Responding to media speculation about The Telegraph’s future ownership, the paper’s editor Chris Evans sent an internal memo earlier this week. Seen by Politico Playbook, the memo read: “You’ve been asking me how we can be confident that editorial independence would be protected. At the moment I know no more than you will have read.”

Polly Truscott, a foreign policy adviser at Amnesty International UK, told The Times that: “Any Emirati state ownership of the Telegraph may have serious implications for press freedom in the UK and should be carefully scrutinised by the government. In the UAE, anyone who dares to speak out against the Emirati authorities is likely to be at serious risk.”

The UAE ranks 145 out of 180 in the 2023 Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders.

Other sources claim that the bidding process for The Telegraph and the Spectator is still ongoing and that no deal has been finalised. Paul Marshall, the co-owner of GB News, is also reportedly interested in buying the titles. DeSmog revealed in October that Marshall’s hedge fund has $2 billion in fossil fuel investments. 

RedBird Capital and the Telegraph Media Group did not respond to our request for comment. 

Climate Attacks

A new DeSmog analysis has found that eight in 10 opinion pieces from The Telegraph on environmental issues downplay the climate crisis. 

Our analysis, for the six months ending 16 October, found that of the 171 articles covering environmental issues, 85 percent were identified as “anti-green” – attacking climate policy, downplaying climate science and ridiculing environmental groups.

Of the 1,930 opinion pieces published by the paper during this period, nearly one in five (17.6 percent) featured an attack on climate science, policy or environmental groups. Ten writers linked to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s leading climate science denial group, wrote a total of 144 opinion pieces for The Telegraph during the period. 

The Telegraph’s print circulation at the end of 2019, when it last released the data, was over 300,000. It had an online audience of 13.5 million in September this year. 

World leaders next week gather in Dubai, UAE, to negotiate how to reduce emissions and limit global warming. The COP28 summit is being led by Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Adnoc, which is the world’s 11th largest oil and gas producer. Al Jaber has claimed that fossil fuels should “continue to play a role in the foreseeable future” – a statement labelled as “very dangerous” by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

The UAE has also attempted to emphasise the importance of CCUS in capturing emissions. However, according to an analysis by Global Witness, based on Adnoc’s carbon capture plans, it would take 343 years for the firm to capture all the CO2 emissions it will produce in just the next six years. This week, the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition also revealed that at least 7,200 fossil fuel lobbyists have attended UN-led climate over the last 20 years.

Total trade between the UK and UAE exceeded £25 billion in the year ending Q2 2023, an increase of 47.3 percent compared to the year before. The Gulf state has also pledged to invest £10 billion in “priority” UK industries. 

In the year following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the UK imported £2.5 billion in fossil fuels from the UAE. The average monthly value of fossil fuel imports from the UAE increased from £84.4 million in the year to February 2022, to £195 million the year after. 

In total, UK fossil fuel imports from authoritarian petrostates surged to £19.3 billion in the year following the invasion – an increase of more than 60 percent. 

Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingVenture Fund Set to ‘Take Control’ of Telegraph Has Fossil Fuel Investments

Director of Climate Science Denial Group Tony Abbott Reappointed as Board of Trade Adviser

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Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Tony Abbott, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Tony Abbott, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Government keeps the ex-Australian leader on the high profile advisory body despite previous calls to sack him over anti-green ties.

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, a director of the UK’s principal climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has been reappointed by the government as an adviser to the prestigious Board of Trade. 

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has today announced the 13 advisers who will provide counsel to the Board of Trade – one of the government’s most high profile economic advisory bodies.

The Board of Trade provides advice to the government on its trade deals with foreign countries, which often encompass environmental and climate standards. 

The news of Abbott’s reappointment comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to make a speech today setting out several delays to the government’s net zero policies. It is thought that he will announce that a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be pushed back from 2030 to 2035, while also watering down schemes to phase out gas boilers and scrapping new energy efficiency regulations on homes. 

Abbott, who was originally appointed to the Board of Trade in September 2020, is one of only four advisers reappointed by Badenoch, who has relaunched the board to focus on exports following her appointment as business and trade secretary earlier this year. 

The former Australian leader has been retained despite opposition parties and campaigners calling in February for the government to remove Abbott after he joined the senior ranks of the GWPF.

Abbott has previously said that “climate change is probably doing good” and is a long-standing advocate for coal power, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

Green Party peer Baroness Bennett told DeSmog that, by reappointing Abbott, “Sunak has lined himself up very firmly on the side of Trumpian populism – the direction that the prime minister is clearly increasingly taking as this chaotic Tory government desperately flails its way towards a general election.”

The GWPF was founded by the late Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson with the purpose of combating what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change. 

The GWPF has gained a number of high profile directors over the last year. New trustees include Tory peer Lord David Frost, the UK’s former chief Brexit negotiator, Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns, and Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson

The GWPF said in 2015 that “policies to ‘stop climate change’ are based on climate models that completely failed to predict the lack of warming for the past two decades”. It has also expressed the view that carbon dioxide has been mis-characterised as pollution, when in fact it is a “benefit to the planet”. 

In September 2022, Net Zero Watch – the GWPF’s campaigning arm – published a report which stated that “changing atmospheric carbon dioxide has minimal impact on Earth’s temperature and climate”, and “efforts to decarbonise in the hope of affecting global temperatures will be in vain”. 

This year, the world experienced its hottest July on record, with climate change fueling extreme weather events. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate science body, has warned of the spread of climate misinformation which “undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency” of cutting emissions. 

Tory MP Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister who led a recent review into net zero by the government, said that Sunak risked making “the greatest mistake of his premiership”.

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.

Businessman David Meller has also been announced as a new adviser to the Board of Trade. 

Meller is a Conservative Party donor whose company Meller Designs was given £160 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts during the pandemic via the government’s notorious ‘VIP’ lane.

Meller has donated more than £70,000 to the Conservative Party and its politicians since 2009, including £3,250 to Michael Gove’s short-lived 2016 Conservative leadership bid, with Meller serving as Gove’s finance chair. Meller Designs was referred to the VIP lane by Gove’s office.

Meller has continued to donate to Conservative MPs following the pandemic. Electoral Commission records show that he gave £4,990 to Grant Shapps on 6 July, who was at the time serving as Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary. 

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of David Meller or Meller Designs. 

A Department for Business and Trade spokesperson said: “We’ve announced a revamped Board of Trade that brings together a wide range of private sector expertise to help boost British exports, identify barriers to trade and represent the best of Brand Britain to the world.

“All advisers to the board serve in personal capacities, do not speak on behalf of government and do not set government policy.”

Tony Abbott and the GWPF have been approached for comment. David Meller has been approached for comment via Meller Designs. 

Original article by Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Related: Coming soon to Fox? Tony Abbott, the Australian former PM who said climate crisis was ‘absolute crap’

Continue ReadingDirector of Climate Science Denial Group Tony Abbott Reappointed as Board of Trade Adviser

‘There’s Nothing Patriotic about Anti-Green Extremism’

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[A}nti-net zero think tanks, such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Institute for Economic Affairs, both housed at the infamous 55 Tufton Street, are known to be highly influential in shaping government policy – yet their funding sources remain largely opaque.

Until last year that is, when an investigation by openDemocracy revealed the GWPF to have accepted money from US-based groups with interests in fossil fuels. As Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute told the Guardian following the revelations, “it is disturbing that the Global Warming Policy Foundation is acting as a channel through which American ideological groups are trying to interfere in British democracy”.

It is particularly disturbing when that influence leads to us being left behind in the transition to the post-fossil age.

As the world moves on to cheaper and better technologies, we must not allow fossil fuel-backed interests to dictate our energy and economic decisions – to do so would be to act like a newspaper board that decided not to invest in desktop computers because it was in thrall to the typewriter lobby.  

I haven’t even mentioned climate change, because I haven’t needed to. In a world of rapidly evolving technology, it makes sound economic sense to move beyond the fossil fuel era and onto better, cleaner ways of powering our activity. We must not listen to the anti-green extremists trying to hold us back.

Continue Reading‘There’s Nothing Patriotic about Anti-Green Extremism’

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.

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