Mikko Paunio is an epidemiologist who has worked for a number of public health institutions in his native Finland, as well as a brief spell at the World Bank, and is currently Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland.
As a researcher earlier in his career, he co-authored a famous article in the respected medical journal, The Lancet, exposing a now-discredited research paper which claimed to show a link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
In recent months, he has written a series of reports and articles for the climate science denial thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), claiming that international climate policy is preventing developing countries from tackling their public health challenges by “coercing” them into adopting “utopian energy policies”.
Stance on Climate Change
Previous statements of his seem to suggest he accepts anthropogenic climate change, including a lecture he gave in 2014, entitled ‘Why are developing countries more vulnerable to projected climate change than OECD countries?’, in which Paunio argued that a lack of infrastructure ‘makes developing nations and especially their poor vulnerable to CC’.
He is also listed at the bottom of a 2008 statement from the Finnish government ministry he works for, stating that ‘In recent years, heatwaves, droughts, and floods have caused more and more havoc all over the world. Climate change and especially the effects of weather extremes are a serious threat to health’.
However, he has recently started adopting the familiar climate science denier trope that the only way for developing countries to tackle poverty is to take a similar fossil fuel-led pathway to rich countries, referring to this ‘energy ladder’ theory in his ‘Kicking Away the Energy Ladder’ report.
One of the blog posts on Paunio’s website, entitled ‘Nazis, wind power and climate change’ is based on an article by David Archibald of the American climate science denying think-tank, the Heartland Institute. In it, he calls wind turbines ‘monsters’ and coal ‘absolutely necessary for Helsinki’. The subject was also taken up by British columnist James Delingpole in a double-page splash for the Daily Mail.
In a blog post entitled ‘Freedom of Expression Now!’, Paunio denounces ‘neo-Marxist absurd red-green identity ideology’.
In an article for the Spectator magazine, Paunio said:
‘The Paris climate treaty was just the latest step in the wrong direction, pushing hopes for water supply development still further out of reach for those who need it most. And the apparent focus of the World Health Organisation on climate change – rather than more primary healthcare needs – is symbolic of this abandonment of the poor.’
In a report a Lancet article on deaths from pollution worldwide, he wrote:
‘Although the authors of the pollution report have sought to take the moral high ground by quoting the Pope’s Laudato Si encyclical on the environment, both of the reports are immoral, and gross distortions of public health science and the historical achievements of health protection.’
Paunio published a report for the GWPF called ‘Kicking Away the Energy Ladder’ in which he claims that ‘international bodies and NGOs are trying to prevent poor countries from expanding their use of conventional fuels’ and ‘have abandoned the so-called “energy ladder” — the gradual shift to cleaner types of fuel that underpinned the clean up of air quality in industrialised nations’.
He says climate policy will ‘result in the loss of over 200 million lives by 2050’ and is ‘hampering the expansion of electric grids’, which he argues is key to providing adequate water supplies.
Paunio published a report for the GWPF called ‘Sacrificing the Poor’ with a foreword by climate science denier and Labour Party peer, Lord Donoughue, who is also on the Global Warming Policy Foundation board of trustees.
In it, he claims a report in the Lancet medical journal on deaths caused by pollution worldwide is based on false conclusions and that the 9 million deaths a year it attributes to pollution are actually just a ‘function of underdevelopment’.
Paunio wrote an article in The Spectator claiming that the ‘green lobby’s energy obsession’ is ‘preventing [the poorest people in the world] from developing electricity grids that are essential for adequate water and sewage supplies’ because of the ‘prevailing doctrine that we have to save water and energy at all costs’.
Paunio published a paper arguing that sustainability and public health agendas are in conflict for the American Council on Science and Health who have taken funding from fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil.
Paunio gave a lecture at the University of Oulu, Finland, as part of 3-day course, called Climate Change, Weather and Human Health. His presentation was entitled: 'Why are developing countries more vulnerable to projected climate change than OECD countries?’ arguing that the difference between the resilience of developing and developed countries is as a result of inadequate infrastructure, including water supplies, hygiene and affordable, constant electricity, and says there needs to be efforts made at climate adaptation.