‘Lukewarmist’ Peer Set for Role Scrutinising Government Climate Policy

Lord Peter Lilley has been proposed as a member of a new parliamentary environmental committee.
‘Lukewarmist’ Peer Set for Role Scrutinising Government Climate Policy
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Credit: Roger Harris CC BY 3.0

A Conservative peer who was until last year a trustee of the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group is set to be appointed to a parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the UK government’s climate policy.  

Lord Peter Lilley, who has disputed mainstream climate science and was one of just five MPs to oppose the UK’s climate change act in 2008, is listed alongside 12 other peers proposed as members of the new environment and climate change committee (ECCC), due to be formally appointed next week.  

The former MP for Hitchin and Harpenden was until last year a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a group founded by former Conservative chancellor and climate science denier, Lord Nigel Lawson, to combat what it described as “extremely damaging and harmful” climate policies. The new committee will replace the House of Lords’ EU Environment Sub-Committee, which ceased to exist last month.

Lilley was a previous member of the House of Commons’ environmental audit committee, and energy and climate change committee. In a 2009 House of Commons debate, he told MPs “I am not a denier – I am a lukewarmer – but even those who deny the existence of anthropological global warming deserve to be heard.”

His appointment to the now defunct energy and climate change committee in 2012 was criticised over a potential conflict of interest over his then role at oil and gas company, Tethys Petroleum.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, Jessica Townsend, who was arrested outside the GWPF’s offices at 55 Tufton Street during a protest last year, said Lilley’s appointment was “beyond farcical” due to his association with a group that “spreads disinformation and refuses to divulge its funding sources.”

The presence of climate science deniers on bodies meant to inform and scrutinise government policy was “not a one off”, she pointed out – with former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott appointed to the UK government’s Board of Trade last year.

Lilley has been contacted for comment.

Environmental credentials

Campaigners broadly welcomed the formation of the committee, however.

Ruth Chambers, senior parliamentary affairs associate at the major coalition of green groups, Greener UK, told the environmental news site the ENDS Report that its creation, “can only be good news. Never has there been a better time for House of Lords scrutiny on the environment and this committee is very welcome.”

The committee’s proposed inaugural chair is Baroness Kate Parminter, a former chief executive of the countryside charity CPRE and former head of public affairs at animal welfare charity the RSPCA. CPRE was previously criticised by the renewable energy industry over its “misguided” concerns over onshore wind. It recently faced a backlash from local members after it came out in support of onshore wind and solar subsidies. 

Other proposed members of the committee include former Environment Agency chief, Baroness Young, and the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, a leading advocate of fossil fuel divestment within the Church of England.

‘Lukewarmist’ Peer Set for Role Scrutinising Government Climate Policy
Rachel is Lead Researcher and Reporter at DeSmog. She joined the organisation in June 2020 as a UK Researcher and Reporter.

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