There is a deep-rooted connection between UK climate science deniers and those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union.
On 23 June 2016 the UK will vote in the EU referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the European Union. The 'Brexit' vote comes after Prime Minister David Cameron promised in his 2015 Conservative Party election manifesto to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU before the end of 2017.
Since then, the link between climate science deniers and Eurosceptics has become more pronounced. In February 2016, it was revealed that Lord Lawson's climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation had moved its headquarters into the same building as Brexit campaign groups 'Business for Britain' and 'Vote Leave', along with a slew of other right wing organisations including the TaxPayers' Alliance.
The Brexit-climate denier overlap stems from a common neoliberal ideology that fears top-down state interventions and regulations which are perceived as threatening values of individual freedom, economic (market) freedom, or the sovereignty of national governments. Under this logic, we must reject both the European Union and most climate policy.
And the influence of this small group extends beyond the walls of their 55 Tufton Street address - just a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament - to include prominent politicians and traditional British media outlets. It begs the question: If the climate-euro sceptic bubble is successful on Brexit, what will then happen to British climate change policy?
LATEST NEWS ON BREXIT CLIMATE DENIERS
Almost 70 MPs have been identified as backing a shadowy parliamentary lobby group pushing for a hard Brexit. In keeping with ideological links previously identified by DeSmog UK, it’s perhaps no shock that there are a number of politicians known to spread disinformation on climate change on the list.
Described as “an aggressive, disciplined, and highly organised parliamentary and media operation”, the European Research Group (ERG) is lobbying for a hard Brexit. It hit headlines earlier this week after being accused of misusing public money.
Long operating in the shadows, Buzzfeed has published a long list of MPs it has identified as being members of the group.
As 2017 came to a close, warnings of the catastrophic impact of climate change intensified. Devastating floods and hurricanes have highlighted the vulnerability of some communities around the world and the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmospheres shows efforts to tackle climate change urgently need to be ramped up.
In the UK, ongoing Brexit negotiations have brought no more certainty on the future of environmental regulation, while the government continues to support new and old fossil fuels industries.
From the endless stream of news surrounding Brexit and Trump to devastating extreme weather events across the globe, 2017 has been a monumental year.
So, as the final days of 2017 wrap up and everyone attempts to have a moment of brief relief before kicking off 2018, DeSmog UK takes a look back at the headlines and events that have streamed across everyone’s screens and impacted our everyday lives.
Two of Prime Minister Theresa May’s special advisers met with a libertarian US think tank founded by climate science denial funder Charles Koch last winter, but Number 10 Downing Street will not say why.
The failure to disclose the details of the meetings with the Cato Institute raises questions about whether there is a loophole regarding disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act.
DeSmog UK can reveal that on February 16 special advisors Chris Brannigan and Jimmy McLoughlin attended a lunch hosted at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. According to the think tank, trade issues were discussed.
Former environment secretary Owen Paterson made the rounds with some of the top climate science deniers on a tour of the US this autumn to promote a “special relationship” post-Brexit.
The Shropshire MP travelled to Washington D.C. in October, DeSmog UK can reveal, where he met with infamous climate science deniers Lamar Smith, James Inhofe, and Myron Ebell. He also gave speeches at both the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation – two libertarian think tanks known for promoting climate science denial and working against environmental regulations.
Paterson’s visits are the latest in a string of meetings between pro-Brexit UK politicians (such as international trade secretary Liam Fox) and US climate science denial groups.
Across the world, secretive courts are lowering environmental standards and awarding polluting companies billions of dollars of compensation taken out of the taxpayer’s pocket. Matt Grady from fairtrade campaigners Traidcraft explains how Brexit could be an opportunity to break the cycle.
Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox met with two neoconservative think tanks during his first trip to the United States after this summer’s general election, DeSmog UK can reveal.
According to documents obtained by DeSmog UK via the Freedom of Information Act, Fox held a breakfast meeting with think tanks and business associations in Washington D.C. during his trip on 19-20 June.
In attendance was the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation – both influential think tanks backed by corporations and conservative foundations. Both are avid opponents of environmental regulations and have repeatedly denied the science on climate change. Heritage was also at the heart of Donald Trump's transition team in the weeks before he became president.
The Red Tape Initiative, dubbed the “other Brexit department” by Politico, has so far only met with one government department since it launched in April, DeSmog UK has learnt – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
According to the Red Tape Initiative’s (RTI) director-general Nick Tyrone, the group met once with BEIS officials “a few months ago”.
Tyrone told DeSmog UK that it was a general meeting to simply “put us on their radar”, adding that “we have only met with BEIS to date in terms of government departments”.
A trustee of the UK climate science denial think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has just been reappointed to a parliamentary science committee.
Labour MP Graham Stringer was appointed unopposed this week to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The all-male group is tasked with making sure government decisions are based on sound scientific evidence.
Stringer has been on the committee before, between 2015 and May 2017. During this same time he joined the GWPF’s Board of Trustees in July 2015. The GWPF continues to dismiss the overwhelming evidence on climate change as it lobbies against taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Most recently it admitted to using fake data during Lord Lawson’s widely-criticised BBC interview.
Megan Darby reports for Climate Home on how a UK proposal for its future relationship with the EU calls for cooperation on energy security, but makes no mention of the Paris Agreement — a stated priority in Brussels.
The UK government made no mention of climate change in a paper published Tuesday on its proposed foreign policy relationship with the EU after Brexit.
The document calls for continued cooperation on defence and security issues, including energy security, as Britain prepares to leave the EU, emphasising shared values and interests. But fails to mention climate change, which the EU ranks among its foreign policy priorities.