Baroness Emma Nicholson, the Liberal Democrat peer, must explain why the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has set up a new campaign wing rather than simply comply with the limits set by the Charity Commission for educational charities, it was claimed today.
Nicholson is well-respected within the Lib Dems, but her views clash with the party’s clear climate change policy. She has extensive personal experience working with charities over many decades. But she is also a trustee of the GWPF, the climate denial think tank founded by the Tory ex-chancellor Lord Lawson
The Lib Dems are today continuing their conference in Glasgow, where they have launched their election campaign for May 2015. Ed Davey, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, has told delegates the party has a proud record on global warming. However, after a controversial coalition with the Tories, the party could get massacred when Britain goes to the polls.
Bob Ward, head of policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment, today said Nicholson and her fellow GWPF trustees must explain why the charity had set up the Global Warming Policy Forum alongside the existing charity.
Ward complained to the Charity Commission, saying that the GWPF was often publishing misleading and biased information about climate change. The Charity Commission agreed that the GWPF had blurred fact with comment, but Lawson simply set up a non-charity wing in order to continue to distribute its anti-climate policy literature.
A cynical move
“This reflects on Nicholson directly,” Ward told DeSmog UK. “It’s the same as being director of a company; she’s supposed to bear responsibility. She ought to explain herself.”
He added: “One would not expect a parliamentarian to support this agenda. It is a cynical move that the foundation, rather than getting its house in order, has decided to set up a lobbying arm instead.”
“As a trustee, one would expect Nicholson to have a view on this and to put pressure on other trustees to behave in a way that is appropriate for an organisation that seeks to portray itself as a charity.”
Ward argued that Nicholson’s involvement with the GWPF was contradictory to the Liberal Democrat party’s stance on reducing carbon emissions to prevent climate change as a matter of urgency.
Nicholson was reached for comment but she did not respond, and a Liberal Democrat press officer said that she was “entitled to her views”.
In a recent GWPF publication entitled ‘The Trouble with Climate Change’, Lord Lawson referred to climate change policy in the West as “self-harming collective madness”.
The latest criticism of Nicholson comes as Clegg is keen for the Conservatives to fulfil their environmental promises, blasting their ‘economic myopia’ over failing to hold their nerves on the issue.
Ward’s statement follows the resignation of another GWPF member in May 2014, over what he deemed to be “enormous worldwide pressure”.
In his resignation letter to David Henderson, meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson wrote that his treatment from the scientific community was “a situation that reminds me of the time of McCarthy”.
The influential think tank, which has repeatedly refused to reveal its funders, has been a source of controversy. Ward argued that the foundation “arrogantly ignores any challenges to the accuracy of the information it spreads”.
Nicholson has accused the BBC of incredulous and bias coverage of the climate change debate. In an open letter, Baroness Nicholson, Lord Lawson and Labour’s Lord Donoughue wrote that the BBC “stands convicted not only of culpable imbalance but also of rank dishonesty”. They continued that the “GWPF would be happy to be represented in any such seminar”.
Nicholson has also attacked wind farms. “I am immensely unhappy that intermittent wind power has attracted such monstrous subsidies,” she said in relation to what she refers to as the ‘fatal flaws’ of Britain’s “wind obsession”.
As the leader of Lib Dems looks to attract investment for the UK’s offshore wind industry, Nicholson has set her sights on a different kind of investment.
Nicholson is also executive chairman of the Iraq British Business Council, and has celebrated the “amazing revival of Iraq’s oil industry, led by Britain’s BP”.