Public figures with a history of climate science denial and opposition to environmental measures are set to become members of the House of Lords, after the latest round of peerages was announced at the end of last week.
They include a trustee of the UK’s principal climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), who will join fellow GWPF affiliates and supporters Nigel Lawson, Bernard Donoughue, Matt Ridley, Peter Lilley, Andrew Turnbull, Emma Nicholson, Nigel Vinson and Richard Cavendish.
The Chairs of the pro-fox hunting Countryside Alliance and the Tufton Street-based Centre for Policy Studies have also been made peers.
The House of Lords currently has no members with a background in climate science, according to the Campaign for Science and Engineering.
Here’s our run-down of some of the new appointees.
Former editor of the Telegraph and official biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore has been a trustee of the GWPF since 2015 and has regularly criticised the UK’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2017, Moore urged then Prime Minister Theresa May to seize Brexit as an opportunity to cut environmental regulations, writing that “Britain could copy [US President Donald] Trump’s bonfire of controls, igniting it with good old fossil fuels”.
Over the 2019 Christmas break, he guest-edited an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, in which he slammed the broadcaster’s coverage of climate change, calling its environment analyst Roger Harrabin biased and accusing him of taking “instructions from the environment lobbies”.
Moore was previously editor of the Spectator in the 1980s when the magazine was owned by oil tycoon John “Algy” Cluff, whose oil and gas services company recently moved to 55 Tufton Street, a hub for libertarian, pro-Brexit thinktanks and pressure groups in Westminster.
A former Brexit Party MEP, Claire Fox runs the anti-regulation Institute of Ideas thinktank and has consistently argued against government intervention, stating last year that the internet should remain unregulated even for child pornography and terrorist recruitment videos.
Fox is a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and forms part of a libertarian network based around the online magazine Spiked, which has received funding from US oil billionaires the Kochs, as DeSmog revealed in 2018.
She has frequently dismissed mainstream climate science, describing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “advocacy research”. In a tweet, she said it would be a “betrayal of scientific inquiry” to treat the body as “high priests of The Science and final word on climate”.
In a debate with environmental journalist George Monbiot, Fox reportedly said “I want freedom” when asked whether she wanted people to be “free to pollute”.
Spencer has made millions of pounds worth of donations to the Conservatives, either personally or through his companies. ICAP, which he founded in 2001 and has since been renamed NEX Group, was fined £55m by US and UK authorities for its role in the Libor interest rate rigging scandal, though Spencer was not personally implicated.
The thinktank, co-founded by Margaret Thatcher and based at 57 Tufton Street, has previously cast doubt on climate science and opposed efforts to cut emissions, in particular renewable energy. The group published a report in 2016 by former Conservative advisor Rupert Darwall claiming that government support for renewables had “destroyed the UK electricity market”. More recently, the group published a series of essays from Conservative politicians, which called on the party to show leadership in tackling climate change.
Former Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and leader of the Northern Ireland party in the House of Commons, Nigel Dodds was a member of the official Vote Leave campaign, another past occupant of 55 Tufton Street.
Dodds served as Lord Mayor of Belfast on two occasions and lost his seat in parliament at the 2019 General Election.
While he has made few public statements about climate change, Dodds’ party has blocked efforts to introduce a Climate Change Act in Northern Ireland, arguing that current UK-wide legislation is sufficient.
The DUP’s former environment minister Sammy Wilson has called climate change a “gigantic con” and campaigned for the repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act, as well as welcoming Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
A Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice in David Cameron’s government, Nick Herbert represented the Arundel and South Downs constituency until the last election.
Before entering parliament, he founded the pro-market Reform thinktank and gave Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings his first job in politics, directing the Business for Sterling campaign against the adoption of the Euro in 1998.
Prior to this, Herbert helped to set up the pro-hunting Countryside Movement, which later merged with other groups to form the Countryside Alliance, of which he was appointed Chairman last year. The group has previously criticised the RSPCA and RSPB and called for the sacking of BBC presenter and conservationist Chris Packham.
The cricketer Ian Botham and former Conservative MP James Wharton, a board member of the Countryside Alliance until February, have also been given peerages. Botham, who reportedly runs a commercial shoot at his home in North Yorkshire, has also clashed with Packham over the proposed ban on grouse shooting.
Former Labour MP Kate Hoey has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, having called the EU a “Stalinist form of organisation”.
Hoey has opposed the UK’s ban on fox hunting but spoken in favour of a “new, green, low carbon economic and energy future” and against fracking.
Photo credit: Policy Exchange/Wikimedia/CC BY. Updated 04/08/2020: A reference to the Centre for Policy Studies was changed, and a line was added at the end of the Michael Spencer section.