The climate change war is being won – one battle at a time
The climate science deniers are losing the war with each passing day. In Britain, thousands of people have taken part in the civil disobedience protests since Monday, blockading four landmarks in London in an attempt to force the government to take action on the escalating climate crisis.
It was barely two months ago that thousands of schoolchildren and young people walked out of classes to join a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating problem. Fridays for Future protests for climate action were initiated in August 2018 by then 15 years old Greta Thunberg who proposed school strikes to stop global warming and climate change. This turned into a global movement.
The fracking battle taking place in the countryside has since gone to court – only this time the anti-frackers beat Ineos who originally took out “draconian and anti-democratic” injunctions against protesters.
The MSM is getting in on the act to get themselves on the right side of public opinion too. Sky News has its Ocean rescue project, the BBC its ever-more influential Blue Planet series, where its presenter David Attenborough now lectures the attendants of Davos the error of their climate-changing ways.
And it is working – big money is sniffing out new opportunities. Scottish Power, one of Britain’s ‘big six’ energy companies is now producing 100 per cent of its power – by wind turbines. Oil giant Shell wants in on the action before it gets left behind. It has designs on becoming the world’s biggest electricity producer. In March they rebranded First Utility – the largest supplier outside of the Big 6, which they bought last year – as Shell Energy and it will be powered entirely by renewables.
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Also in March, the UK government did another U-turn, only this for the better and signed a deal for offshore wind to produce ⅓ of the country’s power by 2030 — a rare success story in Britain’s failing energy policy.
There is the dying breed of climate science deniers. They may be on the wrong side of history but they have the money and the power. People like Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Liam Fox, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Redwood. Even former environment secretary Owen Paterson and Michael Gove the current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs support the organisations of climate deniers.
Remember Christopher Chope? He blocked ‘upskirting’ legislation to make it a specific criminal offence and also halted a planned law making it easier to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM). He is a climate science denier. Of course.
All of these people are linked. What links them is free-market fundamentalism. That is how they are funded in the first place -through billionaires and corporations. And Brexit is a natural home for the likes of them. To be clear, not all people who believe in leaving the EU are climate science deniers, but the more ‘Conservative’ minded people are, the more the tendency there is to be convinced that anthropogenic climate change is a conspiracy theory.
The Daily Telegraph, one of Britain’s leading promoters of Brexit was forced to publish corrections to an error-filled article about climate and energy policy by the newspaper’s former editor after it was ruled to be inaccurate and misleading. The column by Charles Moore, which was published online and in print last June, praised President Trump’s policy of inaction on climate change and was riddled with false claims. It was fake news.
Mr Moore is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a campaign group set up by Lord (Nigel) Lawson to lobby against policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Foundation has previously been sanctioned by the Charity Commission for its promotion of climate change denial.
The Mail on Sunday, owned by the Daily Mail – another hard-right mouthpiece of the free-market and Brexit cheerleader has also been called out by IPSO as promoting ‘fake news’ on climate science.
For the politically influential at the heart of Brexit, the reality is rather more unpleasant and murky
Leave Means Leave was also supported by some of the UK’s most prominent climate science deniers such as former Tory MP and now Lord Peter Lilley, and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Sammy Wilson. It was also supported by libertarian Tories calling for deregulations which have previously pushed disinformation on climate change including Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Redwood, Christopher Chope and Ian Paisley Jr, to name a few.
Former environment secretary Owen Paterson is also a member of the group. Paterson and Lilley are both affiliated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). It is a UK lobby group fighting hard against policies that mitigate anthropogenic global warming. Paterson delivered a speech to the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a right-wing free-market American think tank in October 2017.
Raab was also co-founder of Change Britain, which was set up by members of Vote Leave after the referendum. Change Britain’s patron is Lord Charles Guthrie, a former Field Marshal, who has been implicated in deals to buy Siberian gold alongside Arron Banks. Banks is under investigation by the police and National Crime Agency for his involvement in the funding of Brexit campaigns.
Raab is just one of many with strong links to the American free-market fundamentalists. Just weeks after his appointment as International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox met with over a dozen Heritage Foundation members – another right-wing think tank – including its president and former Tea Partier Jim DeMint and several individuals who became part of the Trump administration. Fox’s former special advisor when he was Defence Secretary, Luke Coffey, (just before that national security scandal blew up in Fox’s face) now works for the Heritage Foundation.
Fox was also the founder of Atlantic Bridge, a neoconservative thinktank aiming to promote a “special relationship” between the UK and the United States. In 2007, the group established a partnership with free-market lobby group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), known for producing template pieces of legislation that reduce protections for the environment and other anti-regulation efforts. Atlantic Bridge operated until September 2011 when it was dissolved following a Charity Commission investigation.
A key funder of Atlantic Bridge was Michael Hintze, the billionaire hedge fund manager, Conservative party donor, philanthropist, and supporter of the climate science denying GWPF. Hintze also donated money to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his campaign to be London Mayor.
Johnson’s Brexit former co-conspirator and now Environment Secretary Michael Gove was also involved with Atlantic Bridge, and sits on the Advisory Committee of the New Culture Forum – another right-wing think tank. Matthew Elliott described the New Culture Forum as part of the infrastructure of the conservative movement in Britain. Elliot was former CEO of right-wing Tax Payers Alliance, helped to block the proposed ‘alternative vote’ in Britain and was CEO of VoteLeave – itself mired in scandals including those involving police and electoral commission investigations.
The connections between climate science denial and a hard-Brexit go on, seemingly forever. These connections go to people like Steve Bannon and the Mercer Family – involved in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal to powerful and highly influential think tanks such as the CATO Institute, American Prosperity Foundation, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Legatum Institute. The people that connect them are characters such as Nigel Farage, Viscount Ridley, Priti Patel, Steve Baker and Lord Lawson – to name just a few.
In the end, climate science denial has one binding factor – money. It’s all about money. But there are factors that make it a doomed creed as well, not least, that no-one born this century voted for Brexit. Today, and in the years ahead, they will get a vote and the vast majority of them would put the climate crisis way ahead of any political ideology.
The more obvious issue is that the facts about climate change are now becoming more and more alarming. People who have children are already starting to think about what they must do to protect the new generation from the clear dangers presented by the current one.
Only 23 per cent of the population are not concerned about climate change – but nearly three quarters are either concerned or very concerned (source – Statista Report 2018). The writing is on the wall for the deniers.