Mat Hope

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Mat Hope is Deputy Editor of DeSmog UK. Mat began working with DeSmog UK 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. 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.

Exposed: Shell’s Cosy Corporate Relationship with the National Gallery

National Gallery at night

Fossil fuel company Shell receives special treatment from the publicly-funded National Gallery despite the oil major’s history of climate obstructionism, documents seen by DeSmog UK show.

The news comes as shareholders gather for Shell’s annual general meeting in The Hague today, with the board under pressure to agree to company-wide emissions reduction targets.

Revealed: Local Authorities Failing to Report on Air Pollution Due to 'Stretched Resources'

Air pollution protestors in Edinburgh

Air pollution in the UK has been described as a “public health crisis”. But many local authorities are failing to fulfil their legal requirements on air quality reporting due to a lack of resources, documents obtained by DeSmog UK show.

The information raises questions about the effectiveness of the government’s decision to continue to put responsibility for addressing air pollution on local authorities.

Documents and correspondence with officials in local authorities across the Midlands show reporting failures in many areas with illegal levels of air pollution. Almost all of the local authorities fall within areas that voted heavily for Brexit, putting air quality regulations further at risk.

General Election 2017: Conservatives Isolated as Only Major Party to Back Fracking

Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Tim Farron

Theresa May today launched the Conservative party manifesto, eager to differentiate her party from the Liberal Democrats that are making a land-grab for the anti-Brexit centre, and a Labour party swinging leftwards and away (or possibly slightly towards) Europe.

But among the Conservatives’ vague anti-immigration promises and plans to tie social care to the value of an individual's estate was a stark fact — the Tories are now the only major party in the UK that does not oppose fracking.

General Election 2017: Which Seats are Climate Science Deniers Trying to Win?

10 Downing Street front door

Climate change is unlikely to be a big-ticket item for any party this general election. But in some constituencies, voters have a stark choice between candidates that want to tackle climate change and those that deny the seriousness of the issue.

DeSmog UK outlines the key battlegrounds for voters that care about the representation of climate science in Westminster.

Barclays to Sell Fracking Company, Says Decision Does Not Change Stance on Shale Gas

Barclays building

Campaigners are celebrating Barclays’ announcement that it will sell its stake in fracking company Third Energy “in due course”. But the company said its overall stance on fracking has not changed.

Until recently, a Barclays subsidiary owned 97 percent stake of the small Yorkshire company, which has a license to frack just south of the North York Moors national park. Its stake is currently about 78 percent, according to a report by consultancy Profundo.

At the bank’s annual general meeting last week, its chairman John McFarlane confirmed Barclays' plans to ultimately sell the subsidiary that owns the Third Energy stake. Environmental campaign group People and Planet said this would be a “huge victory”.

Leaked Labour Manifesto Promises 'Leading Role' on Tackling Climate Change

Jeremy Corbyn

Update 17/05/2017: The full manifesto has now been published, and the key climate and energy promises are in line with the leaked version.

The UK is failing to tackle climate change and needs a Labour government to put the country “back on track”, according to a leaked version of the party’s 2017 general election manifesto.

How 25 Metres of Country Road Became England’s Fracking Frontline

Frack Free Lancashire sign

There’s something happening,” Nick tells me. “There’s a pattern to it”.

He says this a lot. He’s always right.

Nick Sheldrick is eagle-eyed. He’ll be the first to spot the policeman with red pips on his shoulders chatting feverishly into a walkie talkie, the blue-vested “liaison officers” coordinating with security, and the special forces with “evidence gathers” emblazoned on the vests dragging their camera and tripod up the road.

Nothing within this 25 metres of road goes unnoticed by Nick and his fellow protesters: how the fence has been extended, which police officer is first to the gate, or when a row of stumpy new-growth shrubs suddenly appears at either end of the wired division, allegedly to push the protesters further back into the road.

Minister Claims UK Pushed for Stricter Diesel Rules When it Actually Tried to Weaken Them

car exhaust

The government is getting good at putting a spin on its air pollution plans (or lack of them) ahead of the June 2017 general election.  

On Thursday, it told the high court it wanted to delay the publication of a new air quality strategy to “comply with pre-election propriety rules”. The court had previously ordered the government to release the report by Monday, after an earlier plan was judged to have been insufficiently ambitious.

The request for the delay comes shortly after the transport minister, John Hayes, tried to persuade parliament that the UK was at the forefront of European efforts to improve air quality from diesel emissions — when in fact the opposite appears to be true.