Lord Lawson (pictured) and his charity the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) will provide a platform from which the sacked environment minister Owen Paterson will launch a scathing attack on David Cameron, the Prime Minister and leader of their Tory party, on the issue of climate change.
Paterson used the front page of the Sunday Telegraph to call for Britain to scrap the Climate Change Act in what appeared to some as a right-wing challenge to the party leadership amid panic the Conservatives are losing support to climate deniers UKIP.
Here we present 10 reasons why everyone – including neoliberal Conservatives – should be skeptical about the climate denial being advocated by Lord Lawson and his educational charity.
1. Lord Lawson is not a climate scientist and nor is his director, Dr Benny Peiser. According to one of their own supporters neither man fully understands climate science.
Edgar Miller, a Texan-born donor to the GWPF, said: “I think one of Benny’s problems is he doesn’t have a fundamental grounding in science…That’s one of the problems in this country… most people are scientifically illiterate. Nigel is a little bit that way.”
2. Lord Lawson’s statements on climate change science, climate change economics and climate change policy have been thoroughly debunked.
For example, Lawson tried to anger hard up families about climate policies by claiming in the Daily Mail that green measures cost “an average of £200 more a year.”
Ofgem, the independent regulator, says the total costs are only half that amount for any £1,300 bill. The Mail was forced to publish a “clarification” after relying on GWPF figures on these “green taxes”.
3. Dr Benny Peiser has absolutely no academic or professional qualifications relating to manmade climate change. His former employer, Liverpool John Moores University, has emphatically denied that Peiser published or conducted any work relating to global warming during his entire time there.
Tim Cable, of LJMU, told an information tribunal that Peiser’s attack on actual climate scientists was “embarrassing” and “brought disrepute to the university, not repute.”
4. Peiser appears to base his views on long-term climate change on seasonal variations in the weather. “The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it’s very cold, it doesn’t seem to be warming,” he told the Times newspaper one Christmas.
5. The GWPF, a registered charity, has been forced to split down the middle. The Charity Commission investigated complaints that the GWPF was publishing inaccurate and misleading information and was engaged in political campaigning.
The charity watchdog found that the charity had in fact “blurred fact and comment”. Lawson has now set up the Global Warming Policy Forum which is a private, non-charitable company that can engage in political campaigning and publish pretty much what it likes.
The public may find it difficult to differentiate between the charity GWPF and the lobbying GWPF.
6. There appears to be a huge rift among deniers about nuclear power. Paterson will call for a massive expansion in Britain’s nuclear energy programme at the GWPF.
Yet it was Lawson, as chancellor, who persuaded Margaret Thatcher to shut down the country’s original nuclear programme because of the astronomical decommissioning costs.
“Had it not been for privatisation,” he wrote in his memoirs, “who knows how much longer the country would have been paying the price of the phoney economics of nuclear power”.
7. Lord Lawson still refuses to name the funders of the GWPF. The funders named by DeSmog UK and the Guardian are: Michael Hintze, Neil Record, Lord Vinson, Lord Leach, Edgar Miller, Sir James Spooner, and Edward Atkin.
Miller made money from shale gas investments, while Lord Leach declares an interest in BP with the House of Lords – although he is reasonably sure he does not own those shares now.
Three GWPF donors (Hintze, Record, Lord Vinson) also give money to the Institute of Economic Affairs, the think tank that was at the forefront of climate denial while accepting cash from oil companies.
8. Lord Lawson opposes limits to fossil fuels because, he says, it will cost jobs and damage industry.
Yet Lawson took great pride in the fact he “orchestrated” privatisation in Britain and introduced “efficiency savings” that resulted in millions of people being thrown out of work and on to benefits. He called it “unemployment caused by the end of decades of overmanning”.
At the same time Lawson as chancellor enjoyed the luxury of the Dorneywood Garden estate which is set in 215 acres of beautiful grounds, a chauffeur driven luxury car, wines from the Government cellar costing tens of thousands of pounds and, on one occasion, the delights of what he described as “highly trained and unfailingly solicitous geisha girls”. Nice work if you can get it.
9. Lord Lawson claimed on launching the GWPF that one of his major concerns was the plight of the world’s poor. Any attempt to reduce fossil fuel use would undermine economic development , he argues, leading to poverty and ill health. “I think that’s possibly immoral.”
How the leopard has changed his spots.
When chancellor he advocated a scheme to write off third world debt, not to actually reduce the amount being paid by stricken countries, but “to manoeuvre the governments” into adopting neoliberal reforms.
This is what Naomi Klein has called the Shock Doctrine. “I was not known, for good reason, as a bleeding heart”, Lawson records in his memoirs.
Lawson shortly after resigning as chancellor became chairman of the Central Europe Trust (CET), which looked to profit from the neoliberal takeover of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The firm has worked with Polish coal monopolies, arms manufactures, petrol giants, a sex line magnate and even tried to drum up business with tobacco companies.
But more recently Charles Jonscher, the company president, has put his cash into renewables. “Within the energy field, CET’s main activities are in renewable energy work of various kinds,” he said last year. “CET’s largest energy project is currently the development of a 78MW wind farm in Romania.”