Concerns over academic integrity have been raised following the appointment of John Constable, a well-known anti-wind farm campaigner, as the head of a new energy institute at the University of Buckingham.
Britain’s leading private university “risks becoming a propaganda machine for the fossil fuel industry” The Independent wrote yesterday, noting that the university has a history of aligning with the interests of dirty energy and climate denial.
The university is known for its ties to Lord Lawson’s climate sceptic charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The Foundation’s director, Benny Peiser, occasionally lectures at the university, and it has awarded honorary degrees to both Lawson and Matt Ridley, GWPF academic adviser.
Professor Myles Allen, of the University of Oxford, criticised institutions such as the University of Buckingham and the GWPF for “spending so much time hunting for reasons not to worry about climate change at all that they have little energy left for a serious discussion about what to do about it.”
Dr Constable is the director of the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity which claims to promote sustainable development but which critics say is a front for climate scepticism. His 2013 anti-renewables report was dismissed by government as a “manifesto for locking the British economy into excessive reliance on imported gas.”
“I suspect that Buckingham’s new energy institute will mainly churn out propaganda against renewable energy, rather than carry out robust academic research,” Bob Ward, director of policy at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute, told The Independent.
“If Buckingham wants to be taken seriously, it will need to be transparent about its funding, publish papers in peer-reviewed journals and take part in academic conferences.”
Dr Constable has dismissed concerns about the independence of the new energy unit, stating that he will disclose all its funders when it launches formally.
Read more about Dr Constable’s appointment and the University of Buckingham at The Independent.
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