Brexit Climate Deniers Launch Coordinated Attack Against Green Regulations Ahead of Election

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Windmills and smoke stacks

The Brexit climate science deniers have over the weekend launched a coordinated attempt to persuade the UK to cut green regulations ahead of Theresa May revealing the Conservative Party’s 2017 general election manifesto.

In op-ed columns and letters to the editor in both The Times and The Telegraph members of climate science denying and neoliberal think tanks have criticised the UK Climate Change Act for increasing energy prices and called for looser regulations once we leave the European Union.

Those authoring the columns and heading up the letters belong to a small yet influential group of hardline Euro-climate sceptics as revealed by DeSmog UK last summer.

This includes members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), Civitas, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Three of these four opaque groups operate out of the same building on Tufton Street literally steps from the Houses of Parliament, while the IEA is located just around the corner on Lord North Street.

At the same time as thousands of people marched around the world to call for climate action, Charles Moore, former editor of the Telegraph, wrote in the paper: “Out of the EU, Britain could copy Trump’s bonfire of controls, igniting it with good old fossil fuels.”

Moore, however, failed to disclose that he is a member of the GWPF’s board of trustees in his piece where he cites a letter published that same day in the Telegraph signed by the GWPF, the IEA, Civitas and the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

This letter called the Climate Change Act the “principal culprit” of high energy prices and called for the removal of all renewable subsidies by 2020. It too suggested Britain should follow in the footsteps of Trump’s America and “accelerate” the development of its shale gas industry.

Meanwhile in The Times, GWPF member and coal mine owner Matt Ridley wrote about innovation, arguing that “we will be stuck in the economic slow lane unless we cut burdensome regulation and give free rein to new ideas.” Ridley's position as an academic advisor to the GWPF is not disclosed by the paper.

And former energy secretary Lord Lawson headed up a letter to the editor which read in similar vein to the one in the Telegraph. It argues that Britain should not impose price control measures to cut energy bills. Here too the letter fails to disclose that Lawson is the founder of the GWPF.

The Times, however, did also run a column this weekend by Stanley Johnson, father of Boris Johnson, entitled “We must not destroy the environmental protections the EU has helped make.”

In it Johnson calls for the UK to seize the opportunity post-Brexit to lead foreign policy and development efforts regarding climate change and wildlife. He also says the UK should maintain high standards for the environment and remain a participant in the European Environment Agency.

These articles and letters all come ahead of the June general election. Like during the Brexit campaign, climate change is unlikely to feature prominently in the election debates. However, while maintaining the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change may not appear to be a priority, for many working in these think tanks, these articles make it clear that Britain's green efforts are in their crosshairs.

Photo: City of York Council UK via Flickr | CC 2.0

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