How Climate Science Deniers Infiltrate the UK’s Right-Wing Press

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Given the fringe nature of climate science deniers’ arguments, the amount of press time they receive in the UK is generally pretty squeezed (Donald Trump aside).

But the UK’s most prominent climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, still has two reliable outlets in the UK press. And it’s been putting them to good use in recent weeks.

Christopher Booker is an old-guard Telegraph columnist fond of dismissing the scientific consensus on anything from the harmful effects of asbestos to the links between second hand smoke and cancer. Windfarms also make him very, very angry.

Booker is a long-time GWPF ally. He has  previously done “analysis” for the group, and is set to present his new GWPF report in parliament next week.

Titled, ‘Global Warming: A Case Study in Group Think’, the report will apparently “shed new light on the most important ‘non-debate’ of our time”. It has a foreword by peer and GWPF founder Nigel Lawson.

Booker isn’t the only mainstream newspaper columnist on the GWPF’s books.

Hereditary peer, coal baron, bank-bankrupter, and Times columnist Matt Ridley is also a member of the group’s academic advisory council. He often references the group and common climate science denial tropes in his weekly opinion pieces.

Senior GWPF figures including Lawson, former Tory MP Peter Lilley, and Labour MP Graham Stringer referenced Ridley in a letter published in The Times last week.

Oddly, the authors’ GWPF affiliation was not published alongside the letter.

Neither The Times nor the GWPF responded to a request to clarify why the affiliation was missing.

Like much of the right-leaning press, the GWPF has little time for the BBC. But last week it took its ongoing attack of the institution into new, slightly bizarre, waters.

In a short article, GWPF researcher Harry Wilkinson argued “the BBC is continuing to mount a one-sided crusade” against another of the GWPF’s key campaign issues: boosting the UK’s fracking prospects.

Describing the BBC’s environment correspondent as an “eco-warrior in chief”, Wilkinson criticised coverage of a story that showed official expectations for shale gas output were far below industry estimates. The news was originally revealed by Greenpeace’s investigative journalism outlet, UnEarthed.

Wilkinson was writing for The Conservative Woman — a website whose mission statement says that “forty years of feminism has brought with it as many problems as it has solutions”, and which promises to “challenge and question” various “received wisdom” and “politically correct thinking”.

The GWPF has one woman on its 10-strong board. It has no women on its 25-man academic advisory council. The only woman the GWPF appears to employ is its secretary.

To find out more about people and organisations lobbying against climate action, check out our Disinformation Database.

Image: Composite by DeSmog UK

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Mat was DeSmog's Special Projects and Investigations Editor, and Operations Director of DeSmog UK Ltd. He was DeSmog UK’s Editor from October 2017 to March 2021, having previously been an editor at Nature Climate Change and analyst at Carbon Brief.

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