Mat Hope

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Mat Hope is Editor of DeSmog UK. Mat began working with DeSmog UK as Deputy Editor in October 2016, shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU, and has been working on expanding our coverage of newly empowered networks. He writes, edits and commissions articles on all issues covered by DeSmog UK. He became DeSmog UK’s third Editor in October 2017. Mat previously worked as an Associate Editor for Nature Climate Change, handling its social science coverage and writing on how political, social and economic analysis is key to understanding the challenges associated with climate change. From 2012 to 2014, Mat was an analyst and writer for Carbon Brief, covering all facets of the UK’s energy and climate change debate, from fact-checking denier positions to reporting on the government’s role in international negotiations. Born in Cambridge, UK, Mat studied at the University of Bristol. In 2012, he completed his PhD on political communication strategies in US Congressional climate change debates, which won the Hilary Hartley prize as the best thesis in his department’s graduating class. Mat is a member of the National Union of Journalists.

Shell and Exxon’s Brent Oilfield Decommission Shows How Industry Hits Communities and Environment to the Very End

A diagram of the Brent oil field infrastructure

The North Sea oil and gas industry is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to emitting dangerous greenhouse gases.

Shell and Exxon are packing up and moving out of the famous Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea. As a final hurrah, almost 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be emitted as four platforms are dismantled and parts are either left to erode in the ocean or moved onshore and recycled.

That’s equal to about five percent of the UK's North Sea industry’s annual emissions — from the start to very end, the Brent oil field continues to contribute to climate change.

But emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, nitrous dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere is not the only environmental danger that comes with plugging and abandoning the wells.

UK Climate Diplomacy Staff Cut Again as Post-Brexit Links to Trump and US Deniers Strengthen

With Donald Trump set to become the President of the United States, the international climate change political scenery has shifted.

The president-elect’s stance on “quitting” the Paris Agreement seems to have softened in recent days. But countries are still going to need strong diplomatic teams to shore-up the global commitment to tackling climate change, reiterated at the Marrakech climate talks last week.

So it’s notable that the UK’s climate diplomacy team appears to weakening.

For the second year in a row, the foreign office reduced the number of people working on climate change and energy, documents released by the government this week under a freedom of information request show.

Big Oil Companies Being Sued for Climate Impacts Could be a ‘New Normal’

Exxon Knew placard

BONN, GERMANY – Fossil fuel companies have known for a long time that their products significantly contribute to climate change. But it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to understand just how much of the climate crisis could be attributed to them – and, as a result, how much those corporations could be sued for.

Earlier this year, research from the Union of Concerned Scientists showed the largest 90 fossil fuel companies were responsible for about 50 percent of current warming.

Such research into how much damage can be attributed to fossil fuel companies is “vital” to bring lawsuits against those corporations, and holding them to account in the courts, Sophie Marjanac, a lawyer with Client Earth told an audience at the international climate negotiations currently underway in Bonn.

Thanks to the research, “we have evidence of the deliberate concealment of risk from some of these companies,” Marjanac said.

Fracking Company Cuadrilla Pushed Lancashire Council to Remove ‘Biased’ Community Group Chair

Cuadrilla protest sign in hedge

Shale gas company Cuadrilla asked Lancashire county council to help it remove the chair of a group set up to discuss the local community's concerns about its fracking site, DeSmog UK can reveal.

In an email exchange with the council, obtained by DeSmog UK through a freedom of information request, the company said it had “significant concerns” about how the group was being run, and asked the council to “support the appointment of a replacement chair”.

Victory for Journalist as Accuracy Complaint by ‘Contrarian’ Climate Scientist Thrown Out

newspaper stand

Ireland’s Press Ombudsman has ruled that three complaints from a scientist about stories that described him as a “contrarian” and associated him with a network of climate science deniers will not be upheld.

The decision represents a victory for journalists who challenge statements rejecting the overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence regarding the seriousness of climate change.

No BBC Science Reporting Course Since 2012, Doc Reveals

BBC media centre

Just one year after an independent review recommended the BBC take “an active approach” to engaging with scientists, the corporation stopped running science reporting courses for its journalists, DeSmog UK can reveal.

The news comes just weeks after producers of the BBC’s flagship news programme issued an apology for an interview with Lord Nigel Lawson, admitting that his infamous climate science denial “should have been challenged”.

Emails Reveal Cuadrilla's Plans to Change Rules, Not Behaviour, After Fracking Drill Rig Breach

Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site

Fracking company Cuadrilla plans to avoid future breaches of planning permission at its shale gas site by applying to change the rules, rather than its operations, it has told Lancashire County Council.

After Cuadrilla breached its planning conditions to deliver a drill to its Preston New Road fracking site in July, Lancashire Council required the company to demonstrate how it would prevent further breaches.

Correspondence between the company and the council’s planning officer, obtained by DeSmog UK through a freedom of information request, reveals Cuadrilla said it planned to apply to change the planning conditions, rather than detailing any changes in its operations.

Climate Science Denier 'Should Have Been Challenged', BBC Admits

Nigel Lawson at a committee hearing in parliament

The BBC has acknowledged that climate science denier Nigel Lawson “should have been challenged” over incorrect scientific statements made on its flagship news and current affairs programme earlier this year.

Lawson appeared on the Today programme in August and incorrectly claimed that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “has confirmed that there has been no increase in extreme weather events” and “according to the official figures, during this past 10 years, if anything, mean global temperature, average world temperature, has slightly declined”.

The BBC's complaints unit today said the interview breached editorial guidelines, and that the organisation accepts that the statements “were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged”, the Guardian reports.

Cuadrilla's Fracking Vehicles Took Wrong Turn 115 Times in Three Months, Documents Reveal

Lorry exiting Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site

When Communities Secretary Sajid Javid overruled local objections to push ahead with the government’s shale gas plans, residents were assured planning conditions placed on fracking company Cuadrilla would be sufficient to minimise disruption to the local community.

But vehicles making deliveries to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire have had to deviate from the agreed route over 100 times during the summer months, data obtained by DeSmog UK through freedom of information requests show.

EU Council Fails to Confront Fossil Fuel Lobbying Ahead of International Climate Negotiations

EU flag

Europe's environment ministers omitted any mention of stopping vested interests participating in global climate negotiations in a formal statement released in advance of next month’s talks in Bonn, Germany.

The statement was released earlier this week at the conclusion of discussions between the environment ministers from the EU's 27 member states as part of the Council of the European Union.

In doing so, the council failed to follow the example of the European Parliament that last week passed a similar motion, which said that “ensuring effective participation requires that the issue of vested or conflicting interests be addressed” at the meeting. The council represents the voices of all the EU’s member state governments, in this case through the environment ministers, and has the power to include or omit positions promoted by the parliament.