An anti-renewables engineer and a former Daily Mail blogger have been appointed to the board of the UK’s principal climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
Professor Michael Kelly, an electronics engineer at Cambridge University, and Kathy Gyngell, co-editor of the Conservative Woman political blog, both have a long-standing relationship with the organisation. Neither have qualifications or expertise in climate science.
Professor Michael Kelly
Kelly’s connection to the group founded by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson in 2009 goes back at least as far as 2014, when he wrote a report downplaying the potential of renewables to meet energy needs. The GWPF recently announced Kelly will give the charity’s invitation-only annual lecture this year.
The Cambridge engineer, who does not appear to have published any peer-reviewed papers on climate change, said he favoured adaptation as a response to its impacts.
In the report, he claimed the “necessity for mitigation through decarbonisation of the economy remains unproven in the absence of any reliable alternative technologies that would solve the problem at a global scale”. He also argued that, “without major social disruption, the Dutch have adapted to rising sea levels over previous centuries, and they should be a model for the world going forward.”
Kelly has also previously taken aim at the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy of which he is a Fellow, for “lobbying” on climate change. And in 2010 he co-signed a letter to the Society’s president criticising it for accepting mainstream climate science.
In another joint letter, published by the Wall Street Journal under the headline “No Need to Panic About Global Warming”, Kelly repeated a familiar trope that “CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle.” The letter went on to decry the “international warming establishment”.
And in 2010, he was a member of the independent scientific assessment panel set up to investigate the so-called “Climategate” email controversy. The inquiry into emails hacked from the University of East Anglia’s climate change research department concluded that there was “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit”.
Kelly’s appointment comes a month after the Chairman of Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Jerome Booth, was made a trustee of the GWPF.
The Conservative Woman website, formed in 2014 by Gyngell and Laura Perrins as a “counter-cultural offensive against the forces of Leftism, feminism and modernism”, regularly publishes articles critical of action on climate change, accusing policymakers of being “manipulated by the green lobby”. It is one of the few outlets that regularly gives a platform to GWPF members.
This week, Gyngell dismissed fears about climate change as “climate hysteria”, sharing work by the GWPF to bolster her case.
Last year, Gyngell wrote in defence of Nigel Lawson after the BBC was found to have breached its guidelines by media regulator Ofcom for not challenging false claims made by Lawson in an interview on the Today programme. And to mark the 10th anniversary of the UK’s Climate Change Act last November, the site published an article by GWPF researcher Harry Wilkinson claiming the legislation had amounted to “ten years of punishing the poor”.
With an MPhil in Sociology from Oxford, Gyngell has no apparent expertise in climate science.
The site has published over 200 articles by David Keighley, director of the anti-BBC research group News-watch, a precursor of which he and Gyngell founded in 1999. Keighley’s regular “BBC Watch” column accuses the public broadcaster of pro-EU bias, a topic Keighley has written about for Brexit Central, set up by former CEO of the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott.
News-watch shares a common funder with many of the right-wing organisations based in and around 55 Tufton Street. The Institute for Policy Research, an opaque charity with no apparent website, has given grants to the Centre for Policy Studies, for which Gyngell previously wrote reports on drug policy, as well as the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the New Culture Forum.
The IPR in turn receives funding from the charitable foundation established by Conservative peer and “Life Vice-President” of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Nigel Vinson. The trust has also given grants to the GWPF.
Earlier in their careers, Gyngell and Keighley both worked for TV-am, which broadcast ITV’s breakfast programme in the 1980s and 90s, led by Gyngell’s late husband Bruce, who has been described as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite broadcaster.
Kelly and Gyngell did not respond to a request for comment.
Photo credit: R4vi/Wikipedia/CC BY–SA 2.0