Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), History, Cambridge University. [1]

Background

Owen Paterson is MP for North Shropshire and a former environment secretary. He was appointed to the role in 2012 but was sacked by then prime minister David Cameron for fear his view that climate change was not a serious problem would cost the Conservative party votes in the 2015 general election. [2], [3]

Paterson’s brother-in-law is Matt Ridley, a hereditary peer and advisor to the climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Paterson’s annual lecture to the GWPF in 2014 – in which he called for the UK to scrap the climate change act – was actually written by Ridley, it later emerged. [4], [5], [6], [7]

After being sacked from the cabinet, Paterson set up the pro-Brexit thinktank UK2020, which sought to cut regulations and targets related to climate change. [8], [9]

Stance on Climate Change

October 2014

In his lecture to the GWPF, later revealed to have been partly written by climate science denier Matt Ridley, Paterson said: [10]

I readily accept the main points of the greenhouse theory. Other things being equal, carbon dioxide emissions will produce some warming. The question always has been: how much? On that there is considerable uncertainty.

For, I also accept the unambiguous failure of the atmosphere to warm anything like as fast as predicted by the vast majority of climate models over the past 35 years, when measured by both satellites and surface thermometers. And indeed the failure of the atmosphere to warm at all over the past 18 years – according to some sources. Many policymakers have still to catch up with the facts.

I also note that the forecast effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated thus far.”

Key Quotes

April 25, 2016

Delivering a speech on “The Future of Europe” at a UK2020 event, Paterson concluded: [11]

“It is Remain that is the leap in the dark.

To vote Leave is the safe option.”

” […] I want to explain what Remain really means. And to assure those of you who are undecided, that to Leave really is the safe and benign option.”

October 2014

In his GWPF lecture[10]

We are the only country to have legally bound ourselves to the 2050 targets – and certainly the only one to bind ourselves to a doomed policy. In the absence of a legally binding international agreement, which looks unlikely given disagreement within EU member states and the position of the BRIC countries, the Climate Change Act should be effectively suspended and eventually repealed.”

I remain open-minded to the possibility that climate change may one day turn dangerous. So, it would be good to cut emissions, as long as we do not cause great suffering now for those on low incomes, or damage today’s environment.

July 19, 2014

Following his being fired from his position as Environment Secretary, Paterson said: [12]

“I have not been afraid to take on the greens on everything, from fracking to GM foods, the badger cull, even bees!”

Key Deeds

January 22, 2019

A Guardian report revealed that unknown donors had funded nearly £39,000 worth of trips by Paterson via UK 2020, the thinktank he set up after leaving the cabinet in 2014. The trips included one to the US in November 2018 to campaign for a hard Brexit. [26]

September 19, 2018 

Paterson delivered a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Washington DC which has repeatedly spread disinformation about climate change and received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Foundation. [13]

According to the event description, Paterson made the case for how Brexit “can further strenghten the Special Relationship [between the UK and the US] as a powerful force for free trade and innovation on the world stage.” [13]

During his visit to Washington DC, Paterson also visited The White House Writers Group, which describes itself as a “strategic communications” consulting company. Writing on Twitter, Paterson boasted to have met US government representatives, farmers and industry representatives and discussed “the downsides for the US of Chequers preventing a US-UK free trade deal and the spectacular gains which such a deal could provide for both countries.” [14], [15]

October 4, 2017

Paterson delivered a speech to an invited audience at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a US thinktank infamous for spreading climate disinformation. In the speech, he said: [16], [17]

The EU has single-mindedly pursued an overly prescriptive interpretation of the “Precautionary Principle,” smothering opportunities for innovation in thrall to the emotions of vocal activists rather than scientific evidence and advice.

The green blob dominates thinking in Brussels, with generous grants given to green groups so that they will lobby it for regulations which then require large budgets to enforce.”

Paterson was introduced by Myron Ebell, the institute’s Director for Energy and Environment. Ebell led President Donald Trump’s transition team on energy issues, despite Ebell’s assertions he’d never actually met Trump, and is known for spreading climate science denial. [18]

March 2017

Paterson signed a letter to the BBC complaining about its coverage of the Brexit referendum. The letter argued the BBC was biased to the “remain” side of the campaign. [19], [20]

July 2016

Paterson declared his support for Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative party leadership contest following David Cameron’s resignation. Both Paterson and Leadsom have strong ties to a trans-Atlantic network of individuals and groups spreading climate disinformation and pushing for Brexit. [21]

May 2016

Signed a letter calling for the UK government to delay setting a target for its fifth carbon budget, as required by the Climate Change Act, as it would hurt the UK’s international economic competitiveness. [22]

January 2016

Paterson declared his intention to campaign for Brexit alongside brother-in-law and GWPF advisor Matt Ridley as part of the Business for Britain group. [23]

October 16, 2014

Shortly after being sacked from government Paterson delivered the annual lecture for climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which it was later revealed was partly written by brother-in-law and GWPF advisor Matt Ridley[6], [7]

November 2013

Paterson met with the bosses of a number of oil and gas companies interesting in fracking in the UK. The Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) decided to withhold an internal briefing it prepared for Paterson in advance of the meeting. [24]

Affiliations

Government

According to his profile at his website, Paterson has held the following positions: [2]

  • MP for North Shropshire, May 1997 – present
  • Conservative Whip, 1999-2001 
  • PPS to the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, Sept 2001 – Oct 2003 
  • Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Oct 2005 – Nov 2006 
  • Shadow Minister of State for Transport, Nov 2006July 2007 
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, July 2007 May 2010 
  • Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, May 2010 Sep 2012
  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sep 2012 – July 2014

Social Media

Publications

Some sample publications by Owen Paterson below (view a larger list at his website):

Resources

  1. Owen Paterson,LinkedIn. Accessed December 28, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  2. About Owen,” Owen Paterson MP. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ZrGvK

  3. Andrew Sparrow. “I was sacked by David Cameron to appease 'the green blob', says Paterson,” The Guardian, July 20, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/LIP50

  4. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage,” General Register Office, December 3, 2014. Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  5. ACADEMIC ADVISORY COUNCIL,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/NaWvA

  6. Brendan Montague. “Sacked Environment Secretary Attacks Climate Change Act,” DeSmog, October 13, 2014.

  7. Brendan Montague. “Sacked Paterson Turns to Broken Banker Ridley for Climate Speech Briefings,” DeSmog, October 16, 2014.

  8. Francis Elliott. “Sacked minister sets up think tan,” The Times, August 9, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/HbV2G

  9. Kyla Mandel. “Sacked Environment Secretary Dodges Question on Whether he Will Challenge Conservative Party Leadership,” DeSmog, November 12, 2014.

  10. Owen Paterson’s speech on abandoning the 2050 climate change targets – full text,” The Spectator, October 15, 2014. Google Cache as of December 19, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/uMIeT

  11. The Future of Europe,” Owen Paterson MP, April 25, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  12. Simon Walters. “You can't sack me! It's a smash in the teeth for 12million voters (and I even fought for you over bees): Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson among a number of sacked ministers to react to 'male and pale' reshuffle with fury,” Daily Mail, July 19, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/mV9Xw

  13. Brexit at the Crossroads: Why U.S. Support for a Far-Reaching Agreement is Vital,” The Heritage Foundation, September 19, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  14. Strategic Communications for a Complex World,” White House Writers Group. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/62G66

  15. Great to be back in Washington. Many thanks @whwg for a fascinating discussion with US Govt representatives, farmers & industry on the downsides for the US of Chequers preventing a US/UK Free Trade Deal and the spectacular gains which such a deal could provide for both countries,” Twitter Post by user @OwenPaterson, September 18, 2018. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  16. Former U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson Outlines the Environmental Benefits of Brexit,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 13, 2017. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Lfwc4

  17. “Brexit: Good for the UK, good for the USA and good for the planet” (PDF), Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 4, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  18. Mat Hope. “UK Climate Science Denying GWPF Hosts Trump’s Fossil Fuelled ‘Environment Advisor’ Myron Ebell to Deliver Message to Britain,” DeSmog, January 30, 2017.

  19. Kyla Mandel. “MPs Who Complained About BBC's Brexit Coverage Linked to Network of Hardline Euro-Climate Sceptics,” DeSmog, March 23, 2017.

  20. RE: BBC Coverage of Brexit” (PDF), Julian Knight Member of Parliament for Solihull, March 20, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  21. Kyla Mandel. “Tory Leadership Race: The UKIP-ers and Climate Deniers Backing Gove and Leadsom,” DeSmog, July 5, 2016.

  22. Emily Gosden. “UK climate target will let rest of EU do less, MPs warn,” The Telegraph, May 14, 2016. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/5k21v

  23. Kyla Mandel. “UK Climate Deniers Ridley and Paterson Join the Campaign to Leave the EU,” DeSmog, January 6, 2016.

  24. Kyla Mandel. “Owen Paterson Meeting With Fracking Bosses Remains State Secret,” DeSmog, December 5, 2014.

  25. People,” UK2020. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tSw1P

  26. David Pegg, Rob Evans, Felicity Lawrence. “Owen Paterson trips worth £39,000 funded by unknown donors,” The Guardian, January 22, 2019. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/0ubKx

Other Resources

Photo: Wikimedia Commons | CC3.0