Campaigners are urging residents in Warwickshire not to re-elect the County Council’s deputy leader Peter Butlin due to his promotion of climate science denial.
Groups including the Warwickshire Climate Alliance have expressed concerns over councillor Butlin’s regular sharing of content from climate science denying groups on social media and remarks expressing doubt about climate change.
They argue that the Conservative councillor’s promotion of content from groups such as the UK climate science denying group the Global Warming Policy Foundation make him unfit for his role.
Butlin has called the government’s net-zero emissions reduction pledge an “expensive (dystopian) pipe dream”, despite the policy forming the heart of the Conservative government’s approach to climate change, and has elsewhere criticised what he called the “crazy climate change obsession.”
Butlin has also shared several posts from Canadian climate-science denier Patrick Moore, who has argued that increased CO2 emissions are “good for the earth” and a blog post from the climate science denying blog Watts Up With That calls the climate emergency a “sick joke.” Posts from groups that deny or downplay climate science were shared on an almost daily basis, and sometimes several times in a day.
Butlin has been contacted for comment.
When questioned about his social media activity following concerns expressed by residents in 2018, Butlin told the Stratford Observer, “I have yet to see real evidence that man’s CO2 emissions are a climate driver.”
The campaigners, which include school strikers, Extinction Rebellion activists, and other local climate activists from across the County, said the social media posts “call into question Butlin’s suitability for achieving Warwickshire County Council’s carbon reduction targets”, and urged people not to vote for Butlin. If re-elected, they are calling on a prospective Conservative council not to re-elect him as deputy leader.
“Reaching net zero is going to be a very difficult challenge, and will require determination, an open mind, and a willingness to learn from those in positions of power and leadership. We cannot see how someone with Butlin’s views and reading habits can contribute to this,” they said in a statement.
“The Council has no democratic mandate to put someone with these views in such an important position, as they are out of line with the manifestos on which his party was elected, nationally and locally,” they added.
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers, Green group leader on Warwickshire County Council, echoed the campaigners’ calls for Butlin to be removed as deputy leader. He told DeSmog:
“Peter Butlin is the Conservative deputy leader of Warwickshire County Council, with responsibility for finance. How can the Council address the challenges of climate change when one of the people in charge doesn’t even think climate change is happening? No wonder the Council is still pushing ahead building more polluting roads and moving too slowly on decarbonising buildings, preventing flooding and wildlife loss.”
“If councillor Butlin wants to continually tweet irresponsible and misleading information about the climate crisis it should not be as deputy leader of the council.”
Responding to the campaigners’ concerns, Conservative councillor Izzi Secombe, Warwickshire County Council’s leader, told DeSmog, “actions speak louder than words,” adding that the council is “totally committed to carbon neutral by 2030.”
Butlin won his last election to the County Council in 2017 with 52 percent of the vote, with the Labour candidate coming second. He has been a county councillor for 12 years.