David Cameron was the champion of climate change action during the 2009 Tory conference as the party appealed to concerned voters ahead of the general election. “If we don’t act now, and act quickly, we could face disaster.”
But five years into a coaltion government with a Liberal Democrat party genuinely committed to climate change mitigation his promise to deliver “the greenest government ever” rings hollow. At this year’s conference he all but ignored the issue of our age, saying only Britain is “leading and not following on climate change”.
DeSmog UK was launched on September 1 ahead of conference season to smoke out climate denial in Britain and support the work of DeSmogBlog in the US and DeSmog Canada. We attended the main events and fringe meetings at Conservative party conference.
During the week we: reported live; published a series of exclusives naming the Tory donors funding Lord Lawson’s climate denial think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation; and presented our history of the Tories privatising coal, oil and gas and in the process losing government control over our fossil fuel assets.
News from Nowhere
During conference we filed the following reports:
Climate? What Climate? (Environment secretary and chancellor say ‘cheese’ more often than climate)
Donors of Denial
Then on Tuesday we published a candid interview with a GWPF funder who has made money from shale gas and claims to have nudged Lawson towards attacking climate science, rather than just challenging the Tory-led government’s current global warming policies.
From Wednesday through to Saturday we published sketches of each of the six funders named by DeSmog UK so far.
We profiled Michael Hintze, the donor with a billion dollar hedge fund; Neil Record, the currency speculator; Lord Vinson, the industrialist who assisted Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979, the multi-millionare baby-boomer; Lord Leach, the Tory peer and once BP shareholder. Still to come: the baby bottle maker and our one-time shale gas investor.
We continued our history of neoliberalism and how it came to lay the foundation for climate denial. We have met the founders of Britain’s very first think tank and seen how it was funded through donations from monopoly industries including tobacco and oil.
We learned how the Institute of Economic Affairs played a crucial role in helping Margaret Thatcher become Britain’s first woman prime minister. We saw how she first met Hayek and turned his ideology into our reality. She then of course put Nigel Lawson in charge of privatisation. We learn how he sold off our national coal, oil and gas assets.
We recalled how Thatcher and Lawson took on the power of the mining union. And then we learn how Lawson sold BP at the absolute worst possible moment, having ignored the warnings from BP‘s own cheif exective about the handling of the sale.
Finally we witness how the IEA raised money from oil and tobacco (among others) following its historic political successes. This was a revolution that meant the state no longer had control of the country’s vast fossil fuel reserves. And it came just a few years before scientists alerted the world to the danger of burning these fuels.
Meet Our Editor!
Brendan Montague will be attending Lib Dem conference. He will be interested to hear from those Lib Dem members who have a strong view either for or against climate change and other environmental policies. You can also engage in conversation via Twitter using @DeSmogUK and #Libdemconf.