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
Consumers are likely to pay the price for the UK leaving the EU’s internal energy market, experts warned on Wednesday.
Brexit has opened the door to huge uncertainties over the security of the UK’s energy supply, with details of a final deal dependent on political will on both sides of the divide, they said.
Theresa May triggered Article 50 to officially start the UK’s divorce from the EU at the end of last month, yet the future of key policy areas seems as hazy now as it was before the referendum took place.
It’s very hard to know exactly how much Brexit will cost the UK — it depends on what kind of trade deal and exemptions the government manages to negotiate with the EU.
But when it comes to energy and the environment a few estimates have emerged since the referendum with numbers attached, and all of them are pretty big.
If these estimates are added up, it appears that since 2000 the UK has received around £40 billion from the European Union in funding and loans which have been put towards various energy projects, smart meters, and scientific research. The UK has also received an annual £52 million towards the world’s largest nuclear fusion project.
Questions about how the UK will set new environmental standards and effectively enforce these rules once the country leaves the European Union were raised this week by Lords on all sides of the House.
The House of Lords debated on Thursday 23 March the EU Select Committee report on Brexit and climate change. The Committee found there was little confidence in the UK government’s ability to hold itself to account without an independent domestic enforcement mechanism being set up.
The Committee was told that “there was a risk of legislation becoming ‘zombie legislation’,” said Baroness Sheehan of the Liberal Democrats, by “either [being] no longer enforced or no longer updated to the latest scientific understanding.”
Many of the MPs who signed the letter issued this week criticising the BBC’s Brexit coverage as biased to the Remain campaign are part of a small but influential network of hardline Euro-climate sceptics.
An analysis of the 70 signatories of the complaint letter urging the BBC to “accept new facts” on Brexit shows 12 are part of the 55 Tufton Street climate denier network. A further six MPs have consistently voted against climate measures in Parliament.
This includes Conservatives Owen Paterson and Steve Baker along with Labour’s Graham Stringer and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell. These four are linked to the Tufton Street network through either their membership to the Vote Leave campaign or association with Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Of these 18 individuals, 10 were also among 15 MPs that issued the anti-fifth carbon budget letter released last May which argued setting “radical” climate targets wouldn’t reduce Europe’s emissions because others in the EU would just do less.
The UK will continue to pursue its climate goals and retain European environmental regulations in its own laws when it exits the EU, according to a new government strategy document.
The plan goes some way to reassuring voters that Brexit will not be used as an excuse to roll back on the UK’s climate commitments. But the White Paper offers few details about how the government will meet its goals in practice.
Figures at the heart of a cross-Atlantic climate science denier network today promoted their anti-expert agenda at a conference in Brussels.
But their views were resoundingly rejected by mainstream European conservative figures including former UK climate minister Lord Greg Barker who warned that encouraging distrust in experts “is an incredibly dangerous thing to do”.
Myron Ebell, the former head of President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team and a director of the libertarian US think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), was a keynote speaker at the Blue Green Summit taking place in the heart of Brussels on Wednesday.
Myron Ebell, the man at the vanguard of President Trump’s efforts to dismantle US climate policy, today told a London audience that Trump's election and the rejection of scientific experise was “not an isolated phenomenon”.
The press conference, hosted by UK climate science denying think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Foreign Press Association, is the latest demonstration of how Trump’s newly-empowered network of climate science deniers is using its platform to promote the interests of the fossil fuel industry around the globe.
Prime Minister Theresa May has the dubious honour of being the first foreign leader to meet the new President of the United States today.
Trump and May are meant to be talking trade. But senior figures have urged the prime minister to take the opportunity to remind the president that climate change is a serious problem while she’s there.
Trump’s cabinet full of climate science deniers has already set about tearing up the country’s climate regulations, talking about abandoning international efforts to cut emissions, and laying plans to interfere with scientific research.
And there are concerns that this anti-climate action agenda could spread to the UK through a network of key individuals in Trump’s circle of power linked to UK politicians at the forefront of the Brexit agenda.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a new website is being launched in Britain inspired by the rise of far right, climate science denying American sites the Drudge Report and Breitbart.
As the BBC’s new “fake news” watch team reported, the website, Westmonster, is being launched by UKIP’s millionaire backer Arron Banks who funded the Leave.EU campaign for Brexit and Nigel Farage’s former press adviser, the 27-year-old Michael Heaver.
Westmonster describes itself as “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.”
President-elect Trump’s new cabinet is full of people in the pocket of fossil fuel interests, who are set to bring their climate denial agenda to the White House. That was the core message of a Channel 4 documentary last night.
The Dispatches team travelled to the United States to investigate the controversial figures surrounding Trump in the lead up to his inauguration later this week.
And with the entire world watching Washington, these characters and controversies are no longer contained to the United States. Their actions will have international impact, and given Britain’s special relationship with America, it’s time to start taking a closer look at what’s going on Stateside.