Climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), has a new director – a well-connected, pro-Brexit, millionaire Tory funder with a vested interest in slowing the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Terence Mordaunt was quietly announced as having joined the board of directors of former chancellor and prominent climate science denier and Brexiteer Nigel Lawson’s GWPF in April.
Mordaunt is reportedly worth £165 million. He personally donated £34,600 to the Conservative party between 2003 and 2009, according to Electoral Register data. His companies also donated at least £135,000 to the party since 2008, including a £25,000 donation in 2017.
Mordaunt is best known for being the co-owner of the Bristol Port Company.
DeSmog UK previously revealed how a network of climate science denial organisations based out of 55 Tufton Street including the GWPF were pushing for Brexit. Mordaunt’s Bristol Port Company fits into that bracket, with the company having donated £100k to Vote Leave in 2016.
The donations made Mordaunt Vote Leave’s 13th biggest donor, according to Business Insider.
In 2015 the Bristol Port Company acquired the freehold for Bristol docks from the local council, making the port fully privatised, through a process described by independent media organisation The Bristol Cable as “suspicious”.
Mordaunt is also a director of Bristol Oil and Gas, which was set up with the intention of exploring for oil and gas on land owned by Bristol Port Company.
Bristol mayor’s office claimed it had a clause in the port’s contract which meant Bristol Port Company could not drill for fossil fuels on the land. But The Bristol Cable uncovered documents that suggested this did not extend to subsidiaries, including Bristol Oil and Gas.
Mordaunt’s appointment as a GWPF director now means the organisation has an oil company boss as well as a coal-baron (Matt Ridley) in official positions.
However, Bristol Oil and Gas’s latest accounts suggest the project remains stalled, with the company only listing £1 on its books.
Bristol Port Company also has a complicated relationship with the renewables industry.
It was at the vanguard of lobbying against a major renewables project in 2013 – the Severn tidal barrage – that the builder’s claimed could have provided low carbon power for up to five percent of the UK’s needs.
Former Bristol Mayor George Ferguson also made negative comments about the tidal barrage project. Ferguson ultimately made the decision to sell the port’s freehold to Mordaunt, and has described him and business partner David Ord as “good chaps”. The project’s owners described Ferguson’s criticism of the project as “preposterous”.
On the other hand, Bristol Port has three large wind turbines that it boasts provide about two thirds of its electricity and allows it “to save over 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year”. Al Gore even gave the project an award.
The wind farm benefited from about £717,000 of government subsidy in 2016, according to the latest available data. The GWPF, however, has repeatedly called for the government to scrap such subsidies and to “cut all support” for renewable energy generators.
The majority shareholder of Bristol Port Company and Bristol Oil and Gas is an opaque outfit called First Corporate Consultants. Mordaunt is listed as the “ultimate controlling party” of the group in its latest accounts.
Those accounts show that the group made “charitable donations of £354,666” in 2016. The documents do not provide any details of the recipients of these donations.
Mordaunt did not respond to DeSmog UK’s request for clarification about whether any part of this donation was given to the GWPF.
Main image credit: Geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0