The UK’s principal climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has appointed one of its donors, Dr Jerome Booth, as a trustee.
Booth is chairman of Anglia Ruskin University’s board of governors, and an economist and investor with a focus on emerging markets and international development. He is also currently a visiting professor at Cass Business School in London, having previously worked as a Lecturer in Economics at Oxford University’s Christ Church college and as an executive officer for the former Department of Trade and Industry.
Responding to questions from DeSmog via the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Booth said he had decided to join the group because he was “interested in energy policy and believes greater scrutiny of climate policies is needed.” He also confirmed he had made donations to the GWPF.
“The GWPF has no collective position on climate science, but encourages open and balanced discussion. I share a concern about the costs and other implications of climate policy,” he said.
In 1999, Booth helped establish Ashmore Group, an asset management company with more than $70 billion under management. Booth has featured on the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated wealth of £112 million and has donated a total of £20,000 to the Conservative Party, as well as £30,000 to Conservative MP and former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell. No donations have been made since 2013, according to the Electoral Commission.
A former chairman of the Fitzwilliam Museum Development Trust, Booth also has close ties to a number of leading British cultural institutions, including as a board member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and chairman of the Britten Symphonia.
Just months after Booth took over as chairman of Anglia Ruskin University, a mock memorial to climate science deniers, including GWPF founder Nigel Lawson, Christopher Monckton and Owen Paterson, Melanie Phillips and James Delingpole, won the university’s annual Sustainability Art Prize.
The director of Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, Aled Jones, said at the time: “The oil waterfall sculpture could be viewed in decades to come as a monument to a period of history that saw scientific knowledge battle to be heard above political ideologies.”
In contrast to the GWPF’s repeated attacks on renewable energy, the asset management company Booth currently manages, New Sparta, has an “investment theme” on “renewable energy strategies”, according to its website. It highlights “new mega-trends such as the electrification of transportation and heating [that] are sparking new economic growth opportunities” and says that clean energy is “set to rise sharply to follow the mega-trends and off-set the phasing out of fossil fuel plants to meet the COP 21 Paris goals”.
New Sparta has backed a number of start-ups, including the former investigative journalism website Exaro, which won plaudits for its stories on Whitehall but came under attack for child abuse allegations relating to prominent British figures. Booth lost £3 million when the website shut down in 2016 and the source for the story, a former nurse, is currently on trial having been accused of lying about an alleged VIP paedophile ring in Westminster.
Commenting on Booth’s appointment, Jess Worth, co-director of Culture Unstained, a campaign group calling on cultural institutions to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry, said:
“It's crucial that cultural organisations think very carefully about who they work with and millionaire financier Jerome Booth is a perfect example. While he enhances his public image by supporting music and museums, behind the scenes he is working with the UK's most vociferous bunch of climate deniers.
“Climate denial continues to be incredibly poisonous and damaging to the urgent efforts to avoid climate breakdown and there should be a zero tolerance approach to its sympathisers and supporters ”
Image credit: Kake/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0