It’s been a busy week for the latest member of the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group – trending on Twitter, if not in real life.
Steve Baker MP, the most recently appointed trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, did not enter the fold quietly. This week, his #CostOfNetZero hashtag began trending, becoming the “most used by Conservative MPs” early this week, according to an account that monitors politicians’ activity on the platform.
Sadly for the Wycombe MP, his trending hashtag appears to be largely driven by a few well-known climate science deniers — and Baker himself. But despite regularly tweeting it out to his 109,000 followers, it seems his fellow MPs are remaining unresponsive to his impassioned pleas across the twittersphere.
It all kicked off on May 19, when Baker reshared a tweet of a Telegraph story by columnist Madeleine Grant, warning of “the twin fanatics of Net Zero and Zero Covid”. This he accompanied with a call to “examine the #CostofNetZero”.
So he was primed with a catchy hashtag when he officially joined GWPF a couple of days later, tweeting that he feared a “terrible revolt” from the public once they discovered the “astronomical cost” of the UK meeting its climate targets.
While there are legitimate policy discussions to be had about the best way to reach net-zero, Baker has reached for tropes familiar to watchers of climate science denial.
Since his first foray last week, he has released a steady stream of tweets, using the hashtag to illustrate his concerns over the cost of heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers, and solar power. Perhaps in a bid to expand his audience, he has even tweeted about the cost of streaming movies in a net-zero scenario, and his concerns over the possibility of a lower motorway speed limit to cut emissions.
While Baker’s hashtag appeared to be trending, analysis by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) has found that the vast majority of tweets containing the hashtag have been driven by Baker and fellow GWPF affiliates.
Of the 2,728 tweets and retweets posted with the hashtag so far, Baker is responsible for generating 90 percent of them, with a further 9 percent from the GWPF’s official account, its Head of Policy Harry Wilkinson and its Deputy Director Andrew Montford between them.
Baker and Wilkinson are also the top two most active sharers of the hashtag, retweeting it 46 and 18 times respectively. Baker has even been retweeting his own tweets in the hope of spreading his message further.
The MP has also been quoting the likes of Danish “lukewarmer” Bjorn Lomborg and journalist Ross Clark, who regularly casts doubt on the risks of climate change in the pages of the Spectator magazine.
For now, Baker’s words appear only to be resonating within an echo chamber of climate science denial, with the real trend being towards public appetite for action on climate change.