An episode of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation GB News show faces an Ofcom investigation on whether it complied with the rules of the broadcast regulator.
The programme in question covered a breaking news story about the civil trial verdict involving Donald Trump, which led to 40 complaints being made to Ofcom. The investigation will focus on whether the programme complied with rules which prevent politicians acting as newsreaders.
The regulator said, “our investigation will look at the programme’s compliance with our rules which prevent politicians from acting as newsreaders in any news programmes, unless exceptionally, it is editorially justified”.
The right-wing news channel that boasts Nigel Farage as a presenter and most recently Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson, is no stranger to Ofcom scrutiny. An investigation remains ongoing into the Saturday Morning show with Esther and Philip broadcast on GB News, related to the same rule.
A majority of GB News hosts attacked climate action on the channel in 2022, while one in three spread climate science denial, a DeSmog analysis can reveal.
Opponents of green policies have seized on the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to denounce the UK’s net zero target and push for new, environmentally-damaging fossil fuel extraction.
Broadcaster GB News has faced criticism for spreading anti-green messages to millions of viewers since its launch in June 2021. GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos has previously defended the platform by claiming that it presents “multiple sides of the climate debate”.
However, an in-depth DeSmog analysis of GB News’s output from 2022 reveals a pattern of hostility to climate action, including outright climate science denial.
DeSmog reviewed dozens of YouTube video clips of 31 GB News hosts over a 12 month period. Our analysis found that at least 16 hosts (52 percent) attacked on air the UK’s climate policies, including its net zero target.
Presenters claimed that net zero will cause “death by poverty and starvation”, “poses an existential threat to the free world”, and called for the UK to “drill, baby, drill” for more fossil fuels.
The analysis also showed that ten hosts (32 percent) broadcast views in 2022 that challenged or rejected the scientific consensus on climate change. Presenters dismissed the role of climate change in extreme weather, such as the UK’s record 2022 heatwave, claiming “the polar bears are doing fine” and that “the ice in Antarctica is getting thicker every day”.
The world’s leading climate science group, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2022 that efforts to tackle climate change were being delayed by “rhetoric and misinformation that undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency”.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP John Nicolson – who sits on Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee – called DeSmog’s analysis “damning” and urged Ofcom to take “urgent” action, while US-based media and climate expert Allison Fisher said that GB News was using “a similar playbook as Fox News”.
At least four GB News hosts have ties to right-wing political parties that are hostile to climate action, while its ranks include well-known anti-green MPs from the Conservative benches. The channel also frequently platforms activists from climate science denial groups such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
All but two of the hosts who spread climate delay and denial in 2022 are still working at GB News. And, in recent months, GB News has hired two more anti-green MPs as presenters: former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, and current Conservative Party Deputy Chair Lee Anderson.
A GB News spokesperson told DeSmog: “GB News embraces a wide range of voices on all major issues such as climate change and policy.” They claimed that DeSmog’s research excluded “other hosts, guests, politicians, and commentators on GB News who have robustly and resoundingly argued different views on climate policy and science”.
‘Polluting Public Discourse’
Communications regulator Ofcom has repeatedly found GB News to have broken broadcasting rules with false claims about Covid vaccines, and is probing the channel’s use of MPs as hosts. But, until now, GB News’s climate coverage has largely evaded scrutiny.
“GB News prioritises polemicists over journalists,” Nicolson told DeSmog. “Many of GB News’s broadcasts pollute public discourse with right-wing propaganda.
“There is an urgent need for Ofcom now to act. We do not want to go further down the American Fox News route of unchallenged, often scientifically illiterate, culture war propaganda spewing into our homes.”
An Ofcom spokesperson told DeSmog: “In line with freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to broadcast programmes about climate change from a range of different perspectives.
“Under our rules, however, any scientifically unsubstantiated claims must be handled with care and put properly into context – for example, by receiving adequate challenge – to ensure audiences are not misled.”
‘Net Zero Must Die’
In 2022, GB News frequently aired claims about climate policy that run counter to the scientific consensus, DeSmog’s findings show.
Net zero targets were a favourite topic. The UK’s 2050 net zero target is legally binding and backed by the world’s top climate scientists. Rapidly cutting carbon emissions is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including drought, famine, and ill health, according to the IPCC.
Yet, net zero was the subject of attacks from GB News hosts last year, with the presenters often veering into conspiracy theories.
For example on 5 November, host Neil Oliver used his show to attack “net zero [and] the green agenda”, which he claimed was part of “a hellish potpourri of policies guaranteed to condemn hundreds of millions to death by poverty, death by starvation”.
Mark Steynclaimed on an 18 May episode of The Steyn Line that climate policy was part of a conspiracy to bring about “a controlled demolition of the western world” by “sinister globalist[s]”. Steyn parted ways with GB News this year after Ofcom ruled that his false claims about the safety of Covid vaccines had broken its standards over potentially harmful content.
Flagship host Dan Wootton argued on 10 March that the war in Ukraine meant “for now the rush to net zero must die”. He urged the government to “frack, frack, frack” for shale gas. In a 2 November show, Wootton attacked Rishi Sunak for agreeing to attend the “eco doomfest” COP27 climate summit, while a graphic on the screen referred to “the deranged march to net zero”.
Mark Dolan, in a 22 September episode of Mark Dolan Tonight, said: “Blindly pursuing net zero threatens to hasten the decline of the west, and therefore poses an existential threat to the free world.”
In a 9 December show, Dolan praised plans to open a new coal mine in Cumbria, saying the UK should “drill, baby, drill” for coal, oil and gas, and adding: “I think the push for net zero here is another element of liberal progressivism which is infecting the west.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that any new fossil fuel projects would be incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Coal emits the most CO2 of any fossil fuel.
In July, star host Nigel Farage – who has a long record of opposing climate action – used his GB News platform to launch a campaign for a Brexit-style referendum on net zero.
On 6 December, GB News host and Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox argued for scrapping “those woke billions” that “we are spending each year to appease the sun monster with offerings of net zero”.
Fellow host Nana Akua claimed on 16 July that net zero was “a money-spinning, extreme and impossible goal” that “only relates to the zero sum you will have in your bank account by the time they’re done with you.”
GB News hosts also frequently challenged or rejected the scientific consensus on climate change in 2022.
On 16 July, during the UK’s record-breaking summer heatwave, host Calvin Robinson accused the Met Office of “alarmism”, adding: “Man-made climate change, I don’t buy it, because how much of an impact do we really make if we’re talking about carbon levels?”
On her 16 July show, Akua accused the print media of “climate alarmism” over warnings about the heatwave, which she said “really isn’t that bad,” adding of such warnings that “in any case, most of the time, they’re wrong”.
Six days later, Akua said: “If we [humans] only generate 3.5 percent of CO2 and the rest of it is natural, then surely the CO2 is not the reason for the climate changing because it’s such a small proportion?”
A day earlier, host Beverley Turnercalled heatwave warnings “fear mongering” in order to “facilitate state control over your life”. Turner also spread baseless claims warning viewers to “be aware of green issue propaganda which will serve large corporate interests”, which is “part of a plan to register us all to a Biometric ID and a social credit score system that’ll tell you when you can and can’t leave the house for the sake of the planet”.
On 8 August, Farage questioned the link between extreme weather and climate change, saying: “Which is it? Is climate change giving us floods in the [US] midwest or drought in southern England? I’m confused.”
These claims about the heatwave contradict the IPCC, the Met Office, and a study by the World Weather Attribution service that said the heatwave was made “at least 10 times more likely” by human-caused climate change.
In a 22 September segment, Mark Dolan cast doubt on climate science, saying: “When it comes to global warming, my mind is open, but after two and a half years of, in my view anti-scientific Covid policies, and junk modelling in relation to the virus, forgive me for having questions and not slavishly following ‘the science’.”
In a 10 December show, Neil Oliver asserted that “the polar bears are doing fine” and “the ice in Antarctica is getting thicker every day” – claims not supported by the scientific evidence.
Professor J. Timmons Roberts, co-author of an influential paper on the “discourses of climate delay”, told DeSmog that GB News presenters were “casting doubt on the urgency of meaningful action on climate change and the viability of solutions we now have to this urgent problem.
“These are classic discourses of delay, honed by the fossil fuel industry and its allies, building on the decades of experience of the tobacco PR machine,” he said.
“GB News appears to be utilising a similar playbook as Fox News to push climate misinformation and throw sand in the gears of climate action,” said Allison Fisher, Climate and Energy Program Director for the US-based media watchdog Media Matters.
“Attempting to discredit climate science, denying the link between our warming planet and ever-increasing extreme weather, all while keeping up a steady drumbeat of attacks on climate solutions and policies intended to address the climate crisis, are tactics Fox News has used for years to misinform its audiences and delay action on climate change.”
All of the hosts cited in this article have been approached for comment.
At least four GB News hosts have ties to political parties with a record of climate science denial: Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit Party (now Reform UK) who also heads up the anti-green group Vote Power Not Poverty; Calvin Robinson, who was a Brexit Party parliamentary candidate in 2019 and a former Reclaim Party advisor; Arlene Foster, former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party; and Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox.
Another host, Philip Davies, was one of five MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act in 2008. Davies, Anderson, and Esther McVey – who is also a GB News presenter – are all members of the anti-climate action Net Zero Scrutiny Group of backbench Conservative MPs.
Owned by the Dubai-based investment firm Legatum Group, GB News reached 2.87 million viewers in December alone, reportedly beating rival station TalkTV in key time slots. Despite this, the broadcaster lost £30 million in its first year on air.
The Legatum Institute think tank, which is run by the Legatum Group, has previously received donations from a foundation linked to the US-based Koch Industries oil dynasty. Three of the five parties with significant control of GB News’s parent company, All Perspectives Limited, are executives at Legatum.
GB News last year appointed a new chair, Alan McCormick, who is a partner at Legatum and previously shared articles online which dismissed the threat from climate change.
Legatum Group did not respond when contacted for comment.
GB News not only gives a voice to climate denial and delay via its hosts; it also platforms guests who are hostile to climate science and net zero policies.
Frequent guests include Lois Perry of the climate science denial group CAR26, as well as figures from the GWPF, the UK’s principal climate denial group, which campaigns as Net Zero Watch. On 30 April this year, GB News hosted the GWPF’s head of policy Harry Wilkinson in a segment on net zero.
GB News has also promoted GWPF material under its own banner. In May 2022, GB News published an online story criticising government subsidies for wind farms which, although it was based on a Net Zero Watch analysis, did not reveal the group as its source.
GB News’s online story carried quotes from Conservative MPs Steve Baker and Craig Mackinlay, both of whom are Net Zero Watch allies. These quotes were identical to the statements featured in the Net Zero Watch press release.
The on-air version of the story featured an interview with Andrew Montford, deputy director of Net Zero Watch, while the story was also cited in a new report by the influential Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank that called for a “phase out” of renewable energy subsidies.
Richard Wilson, board member of the Stop Funding Heat campaign, said GB News was pushing “biased messaging on climate change and net zero.”
Wilson urged advertisers to pull support for the channel, saying: “Any company that cares about climate change, and the future of humanity, should be steering well clear of GB News.”
Fisher at Media Matters added: “At a time when the window to act on global warming is rapidly closing, the last thing the world needs is another Fox News.”
For a full breakdown of GB News’s record on climate, visit its new profile in DeSmog’s climate disinformation database.
Methodology Using online video footage of GB News segments, mainly on YouTube, DeSmog analysed the comments made on air in 2022 by the presenters listed on the GB News website.
We excluded six of these 37 listed hosts – Mark Longhurst, Rosie Wright, Darren McCaffrey, Mark White, Ellie Costello and royal correspondent Cameron Walker – as they were news anchors or reporters who did not regularly express opinions.
DeSmog’s analysis found that, of the 31 GB News hosts, 16 (52 percent) attacked climate action on air, while 10 (32 percent) challenged or rejected basic climate science.
We defined “attacks on climate action” as hosts attacking “net zero” and efforts to cut CO2 emissions, or supporting a major increase in fossil fuel extraction, e.g. overturning the UK’s fracking ban or opening a new coal mine. We excluded specific calls for more North Sea oil and gas extraction because, while this still contradicts the IPCC and IEA, it is a more mainstream position, held for example by the current UK government.
We defined “climate science denial” as hosts rejecting or casting doubt on the role of human-caused CO2 emissions on global warming, and on its role in extreme weather events such as last year’s record heatwave in the UK.
The analysis did not include the regular attacks on climate protesters by GB News, or contestable claims about the UK being a “world leader” on climate action.
In drawing up these definitions DeSmog was guided by the peer-reviewed 2020 “discourses of climate delay” paper published by Cambridge University.
We were not able to review all of GB News’s 2022 output, as not all of it is currently publicly available after live broadcast, so there may be more examples that were not captured in this analysis. We also found that several hosts made delay or denial statements in 2021 or 2023 which fell outside the time frame and so were not included in this analysis. A full dataset is available upon request.
The National Conservatism (NatCon) conference kicks off today in Westminster, London, featuring a roster of high-profile speakers drawn from the upper reaches of the government and the conservative right.
A DeSmog analysis has found climate denial and a hostility to net zero to be a common feature among many of the individuals speaking at the three-day summit.
The gathering comes as Rishi Sunak’s government – which is already off track to meet the UK’s climate commitments – pursues new fossil fuel extraction, and prominent figures in the right-wing media continue to cast doubt over net zero policy.
The NatCon conference is being organised by the US-based think tank the Edmund Burke Foundation (EBF) and intends to catalyse a “revival” of a political philosophy based on “national identity and culture” alongside “god and country”.
While energy and climate policy is oddly absent from the agenda, many of the speakers and their parent organisations have a record of hostility to climate action, a scepticism of climate science, and interests in fossil fuels.
The event features keynote speeches from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove. Braverman ran for Tory leader last year vowing to “suspend the all-consuming desire to achieve Net Zero by 2050”. They will be joined by David Frost, a Conservative peer and a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group.
Fellow conference speakers also include Lee Anderson, Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party, who has claimed that people are “sick to death” of net zero, and former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has said that taking action on climate change is “unrealistic” because “it would have no effect for hundreds or possibly a thousand years.”
Another speaker is Conservative MP John Hayes, a former energy minister who received £150,000 between 2018 and 2020 from Lebanon-based oil company BB Energy for work as a “strategic advisor”. Also in attendance will be Conservative MPs Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates, and Conservative peer Daniel Hannan.
Cates used her speech to claim that “epidemic levels of anxiety and confusion” among young people are being caused by “culture, schools and universities” teaching that “our country is racist, our heroes are villains, [and] humanity is killing the Earth.”
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Climate Spokesperson, told DeSmog: “It is deeply concerning to learn that Conservative ministers would attend a conference with climate deniers who stand in the way of progress.
“We need leaders who are committed to finding solutions to this crisis, not those betraying the trust of the people they were elected to serve by ignoring the overwhelming evidence of climate change.”
The selection of high-profile MPs, peers, and ministers are attending the NatCon conference despite Conservative backbencher Daniel Kawczynski having been reprimanded by the party in 2020 for speaking at a NatCon conference in Rome alongside far-right politicians.
“Daniel Kawczynski has been formally warned that his attendance at this event was not acceptable, particularly in light of the views of some of those in attendance,” the Conservative Party said at the time. Kawczynski spoke alongside Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orban and other far-right figures from across the EU.
The Edmund Burke Foundation
NatCon conferences have been running since 2016 and have featured radical right-wing politicians, academics and journalists from across the world, including former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni.
The EBF, which has organised the conferences since 2021, is a US think tank founded in 2019 under the founding principle that “public life should be rooted in Christianity and its moral vision, which should be honoured by the state and other institutions both public and private.”
NatCon conference chairman Christopher DeMuth, who is co-chairing this week’s London conference, has previously expressed climate science denial and is tied to a number of think tanks that have opposed climate action.
DeMuth served as president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) from 1986 to 2006, an influential conservative think tank whose representatives have consistently cast doubt on humanity’s contribution to climate change.
The AEI has received over £2.9 million ($3,615,000) from ExxonMobil since 1998, and over £1.6 million ($2 million) from foundations related to petrochemicals giant Koch Industries from 2004 to 2017.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch drew criticism for meeting the AEI in November. Her predecessor Liz Truss met with the group in 2018.
In 2001, DeMuth wrote in the AEI’s Energy Crunch publication that “The Kyoto Treaty Deserved to Die”, and cast doubt on climate science. He wrote: “Although it is fairly well-established that the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed somewhat (one degree Fahrenheit) during the past century, it’s not clear why this happened.”
“Whatever the causes, we don’t know if future warming trends will be large or small, or whether the net environmental and economic consequences (including both beneficial and harmful effects) may be large or small,” he added.
It’s not clear whether DeMuth’s views towards climate science have evolved since. However, at the 2022 EU NatCon conference, he praised the contested science that emerged during the Covid pandemic and appeared to contrast this with a too-eager scientific consensus over man-made climate change. “The climate-change mantra of ‘the science is settled’ never got traction in a genuine crisis,” he said.
DeMuth is also a distinguished fellow of The Hudson Institute, a group which has reportedly worked to defeat climate bills in Congress. The group received more than £6.3 million ($7.9 million) in funding from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2011 and 2013 – two opaque groups that have provided finance for anti-green causes.
DeMuth is also on the Alliance of Market Solutions board of advisors – an organisation of “conservative leaders” that aims to build support for policies that “protect the environment and deregulate and grow the economy.”
Another keynote speaker at the conference is Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation – a hub of opposition to climate action. The think tank, which influenced the policy of the Reagan administration, has platformed high-profile climate deniers such as the late S. Fred Singer, and received over £4.9 million ($6.1 million) from groups linked to the Koch family between 1997 and 2017.
The Heritage Foundation’s Vice President for Outreach, Andrew Olivastro, will also be speaking at the NatCon conference. Olivastro has said that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing – based on standards measuring a business’s impact on society and the environment – “is a direct assault on the heart and soul of the free market economy”.
‘Doom Mongering Propaganda’
The London conference will also play host to a number of British speakers who have refuted the scientific consensus on climate change in recent years.
Keynote speaker Douglas Murray, Associate Editor at The Spectator, argued in 2020 that “terrible policy decisions” were being made due to “the false belief that we are seeing an increase in catastrophic weather events.”
A Carbon Brief analysis of 504 scientific articles examining the link between climate change and extreme weather events found that 71 percent of the events and their underlying trends were made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change.
Elsewhere, Murray claimed that educating children about climate change was akin to “terrifying our children with doom mongering propaganda” which “is nothing less than abuse.”
Speaker Melanie Phillips, a regular contributor to the The Daily Mail, The Spectator and The Times, wrote in 2022 that “there is no evidence that anything is happening to the world’s climate that lies outside historic fluctuations.”
She continued by arguing that “net zero has been a major contributor to Britain’s soaring fuel prices and the cost of living crisis, which played an outsize role in defenestrating Boris Johnson by turning the public against him.”
Daily Telegraph columnist Sherelle Jacobs, who will also speak at the event, argued in 2019 that “CO2 emissions may not be the only reason for warming.”
She added: “sidelining studies that have, for example, found the natural climate system can suddenly shift, and ridiculing researchers who explore other possible variables – from solar changes to volcanoes – could be driving us further from the truth.”
Beyond climate science denial, many of the conference’s speakers have attacked green policies, with a particular focus on net zero.
Along with Lord Frost, the conference will host Gwythian Prins, a member of the GWPF’s academic advisory council. In 2021, Prins argued that “net zero agenda hands geopolitical control to China,” because green policies “attempt to defy the laws of thermodynamics.”
Toby Young, Editor of the Daily Sceptic, will also be speaking at the conference. Young wrote in The Spectator in 2022 that, “it’s not the fact of climate change that I’m sceptical about, but the claim that it’s anthropogenic [caused by humans]. I think that could be true, but the evidence isn’t compelling enough to justify the net-zero policy.”
A number of climate consensus studies conducted between 2004 and 2015 found that between 90 percent and 100 percent of experts agree that humans are responsible for climate change. A study published in 2021, which reviewed over 3,000 scientific papers, found that over 99 percent of climate science literature says that global warming is caused by human activity.
“There is no scientific evidence or method that can determine how much of the warming we’ve had since 1900 was directly caused by humans,” Young told DeSmog. “What we do know is that temperatures have varied widely over the last 600 million years, along with levels of greenhouse gases, and these natural forces did not stop operating at the start of the last century.
Young questioned the validity of studies that cite near unanimous agreement among scientists on climate change. “Science is a process, not a consensus. The unproven hypothesis that humans have caused all or most climate change since the Industrial Revolution does not lend itself to a yes or no answer. The debate is over how much or how little humans are responsible for”.
The National Conservatism website also recommends a number of books which dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. Of the 41 books listed on the website and reviewed for this article, 14 contain passages that either refute climate science, criticise climate action, or demonise those calling for climate action.
A number of speakers at the conference also have links to Legatum – the Dubai-based investment fund behind the broadcaster GB News, which regularly platforms views that are hostile to climate science and net zero. Legatum also funds the Legatum Institute think tank, which received over £61,000 ($77,000) from a Koch Industries foundation in 2018.
“Legatum is an investor in GB News, a platform which hosts individuals with views on both sides of the argument,” a Legatum spokesperson said. “GB News supports media plurality in the UK, bringing fresh perspectives to the national conversation.”
Five of the UK NatCon speakers are on the advisory board of The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, a Legatum-funded enterprise, founded by Jordan Peterson and dedicated to empowering “responsible citizenship” by drawing “on our moral, cultural, economic and spiritual foundations.” ARC members speaking at the conference include: the Conservative MPs Cates, Hayes, and Kruger, EBF UK chair James Orr, and UnHerd columnist Louise Perry.
Fred de Fossard, who heads a research unit at the Legatum Institute and acted as a special advisor to Jacob Rees-Mogg between 2020 and 2022, will also be speaking at the conference.
Rees-Mogg is now a GB News host, as is Tory deputy chair Anderson. They will be joined at the NatCon conference by fellow GB News host Darren Grimes, who has used his TV platform to demand a Brexit-style referendum on the UK’s net zero target, which he called “an asphyxiating straitjacket bound around the body of Britain”.
“This collective of climate deniers should have representatives of this government nowhere near it – yet multiple cabinet ministers aren’t merely in attendance, they’re keynote speakers,” Green Party MP Caroline Lucas told DeSmog. “Ministerial links to this conference wipe away any remaining shred of this government’s climate credibility. It’s time to kick toxic fossil fuel interests out of politics once and for all.”