The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was in touch with climate science denier Myron Ebell during his time as head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team, DeSmog UK can confirm.
According to a Freedom of Information Request, the FCO corresponded with Ebell in his role under President Trump prior to Ebell's visit to London in January.
However, the content of their discussions remains unknown. The FCO Climate Diplomacy Team refused to release any details after several requests for clarification and further information about their discussions.
Ebell is the director of energy and environment at the libertarian US dark money think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). He is also chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of organizations “that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.”
The Trump administration last fall tasked Ebell with leading his transition team on environmental issues, producing a secretive 'Agency Action Plan' for the EPA. The purpose of the “confidential” plan, according to Ebell, was to advise Trump on how to deliver his campaign promises. The world is now waiting to see whether Trump will pull out of the Paris climate deal.
As the FCO’s response to DeSmog UK explained, the information about their correspondence with Ebell is classified as falling under “international relations” and “personal information” and is therefore exempt from being released by government.
According to the FCO Climate Diplomacy Team the correspondence between Ebell and the department “was in the context of his role with President Trump’s transition team – therefore affiliated with the incoming US Government – and not whilst he was affiliated with the US think tank CEI.”
Ebell visited London in January where he admitted he had never actually spoken with Trump. During his visit he also met with advisers at Number 10 in his capacity as a director at CEI. It’s not known what was discussed during this meeting either. Discussions between Ebell and the FCO took place prior to his January visit, the FCO Climate Diplomacy Team confirmed.
The information comes as new data shows dramatic cuts to FCO climate diplomacy staff – under the Conservative government the number of employees working on climate issues was halved, with just 72 remaining as of last November.