Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 08:30 • Mat Hope

You’ve probably seen the startling headlines — “Air pollution linked to spikes in hospital and GP visits”,“Air pollution causes nearly 15,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in UK each year”, “Young girl's death first to be linked to illegal levels of air pollution”.

It’s obvious that the UK has a major air pollution problem.

Thursday, May 10, 2018 - 03:04 • Chloe Farand
Read time: 8 mins

London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) was set-up in 1995 as the little sister of the London Stock Exchange, allowing growing companies to raise funds.

When a company decides to join the London Stock Exchange, it can list shares on the main market or seek admission on AIM, where smaller companies have a chance to raise money from outside investors.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 09:22 • Chloe Farand
Read time: 6 mins

The offshore world is one where information about company ownership is kept hidden from ordinary taxpayers and law enforcement authorities.

The publication of the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017 has laid bare the fact tax havens have been used by the world’s elite and wealthy to launder money, evade tax and finance dirty ventures.  

The Guardian, for instance, exposed the Azerbaijan ruling elite’s secret £2.2bn scheme to buy luxury  goods and launder money through a network of four opaque British companies - with the owners of two of them hidden through companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

These unprecedented leaks of data have put the spotlight on a system that protects the rich and powerful through hard-to-trace companies and anonymous investment vehicles.

Following the revelations, Germany passed a new anti-offshore law called the “Panama Plan” and the UK has just voted on an amendment which could kick the door open on anonymous accounts in British overseas territories. 

But for now, companies and individual business tycoons continue to use the offshore system to hide behind regulations protecting their identity. Over the years, the offshore system has enabled crime, corruption and wrongdoing but not much has been done to stop it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 08:40 • Chloe Farand
Read time: 4 mins

Despite DeSmog UK's repeated request for comment, only three of the 12 companies responded with a comment, and four declined to do so.

Both the Department for International Trade and the UK Export Finance – the two main government players in international oil and gas deals – failed to respond to a request for comment for this story.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 03:38 • Chloe Farand
Read time: 7 mins

After days of discussions at the climate talks in Bonn, negotiators failed to agree on a conflict of interest policy that would exclude fossil fuel companies from getting involved in the process.

The issue has been high on the agenda at the talks in Germany with campaigners arguing polluting businesses are weakening climate ambitions by lobbying government officials to protect their profits.

But rich and developed countries such as the US, Australia and Canada have repeatedly opposed “kicking out” big polluters from the climate talks process. Instead countries agreed “to further enhance the openness, transparency, inclusiveness and balance of the effective engagement of non-party stakeholders in a manner that enhances the implementation of the convention”. 

Jesse Bragg, a spokesman for NGO Corporate Accountability, told DeSmog UK this was “a small step in the right direction given the overwhelming obstruction from the global north”. He added pressures on the EU to back a proposition for a conflict of interest policy “seemed to have worked” with the union taking a backseat and “for the first time, did not actively and publicly stand in the way of such a policy”. 

But in a new report, the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA), a political group in the European Parliament, argue the EU’s historic opposition to a strong conflict of interest policy is because of the cosy relationship between European governments and private companies with a vested interest in weak climate policies.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 05:11 • Mike Small
Read time: 5 mins

INEOS is today challenging  the Scottish Government over its decision to ban fracking. But much more is at stake than the status of the UK’s newest fossil fuel industry.

After introducing a moratorium in 2015, ministers announced the prohibition in October 2017 which was subsequently endorsed by a vote of MSPs. The company, which has faced local opposition in the rest of the UK is trying to overturn the Scottish ban which doesn’t involve legislation but is an instruction to local authorities not to consent planning for any fracking-related activities.

The case comes soon after the Scottish Government successfully faced-down a lengthy legal challenge to their Minimum Pricing for Alcohol legislation from the Scotch Whisky Association. It raises significant issues about the nature of power in democracy, the role and status of science, and the power of corporate lobbying.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 02:22 • Mat Hope
Read time: 2 mins

Even Scott Pruitt — the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief known rarely to turn down a freebie — doesn’t want to have anything to do with the UK’s premier climate science denial group.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) invited Pruitt to give its annual lecture in 2017. Pruitt either rejected or ignored the invite, as it was ultimately former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that took to the stage.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 04:22 • Christine Ottery
Read time: 7 mins

The UK government did not assess the economic or environmental impacts of a policy change that led to a huge decline in onshore wind developments, DeSmog UK can reveal. The inevitable collapse in onshore wind energy production had a huge impact on jobs in the renewable energy sector and is regarded as a missed opportunity to reduce energy sector emissions.