Climate Science Denial Group to Give Evidence to Parliament on Net Zero Transition

The Global Warming Policy Forum has a “laughable record of inaccurate and misleading claims” about climate and energy policy, said one expert.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
House of Lords
House of Lords. Credit: UK Parliament, CC BY 3.0

The UK’s main climate science denial group has been invited to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the country’s energy transition and the cost of its net zero policies.

John Constable, energy editor at the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), will speak to the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee on Tuesday morning as part of its inquiry, which also looks at the role of the energy regulator Ofgem in the transition to net zero. 

In May, Constable published a GWPF report calling for an alternative to net zero targets and saying “net zero is a utopian plan that won’t work”.   

Reacting to the news, however, one expert said the GWPF is “a constant source of misinformation and propaganda” about net zero costs and has a “laughable record of inaccurate and misleading claims” about climate and energy policy. 

The GWPF is currently working with backbench MPs who are campaigning against what they call the “punishingly high” cost of the government’s targets to cut emissions to net zero by 2050. South Thanet MP Craig Mackinklay, who is leading a ‘Net Zero Scrutiny Group’ of backbenchers, has said it will use GWPF research to this end. 

GWPF regularly promotes Mackinlay and other anti-net zero MPs on Twitter. 

The independent Climate Change Committee, however, has said the UK’s net zero targets are affordable and small compared to the cost of inaction on climate change.  

Constable himself has long campaigned against wind farms and solar panels, including in a June GWPF report opposing solar panel farms being built on agricultural land. He also wrote a GWPF report, published in February, criticising an April 2019 Statutory Regulation that made it illegal for companies to misreport their CO2 emissions. 

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, told DeSmog: “It is very funny to see the Global Warming Policy Forum asked to provide evidence to a parliamentary committee.”

The Forum was created in 2014 “to help the Global Warming Policy Foundation circumvent Charity Commission rules against the promotion of climate change denial”, Ward explained. “The Forum is a lobby group that keeps its sources of funding secret and has a laughable record of inaccurate and misleading claims about climate and energy policy.

“In particular it has been a constant source of misinformation and propaganda about net zero policies, offering ludicrously exaggerated estimates of the costs.” 

Ward added: “I suspect that the clerks to the Committee will be kept very busy fact-checking every word of the evidence the Committee hears. I do hope the Committee finds time to take evidence from real experts.”

The Committee will also hear from Maxine Frerk, associate at think tank Sustainability First, and Lord Adair Turner, chair at Energy Transitions Commission, on September 14 as part of the inquiry. 

The GWPF’s invitation to give evidence on the government’s climate targets comes after the group said last month’s landmark UN IPCC report proved that “renewable energy policies have failed” and called for gas and nuclear energy to be “fast-tracked”. 

In a statement at the time GWPF Director Benny Peiser said: “Renewables are futile, ineffective and have no future. Gas and nuclear have to be fast-tracked if there is any chance of publicly acceptable, long-term climate policies.”

In April, the GWPF put out a statement opposing wind farms as a waste of money. Research by Bloomberg in June, however, found that renewable energy is in fact cheaper than continuing to burn fossil fuels. 

That same month the GWPF published a misleading pamphlet on extreme weather events, with a release quoting the author, climate science denier Ralph Alexander, who said: “It doesn’t matter what extreme weather phenomenon you look at, evidence of long-term worsening is sketchy at best and in many cases non-existent”. 

There is in fact a wealth of evidence that climate change is making extreme weather more likely and worse. Scientists have warned that without rapid decarbonization the impacts are likely to get worse.

An Industry and Regulatory Committee spokesperson told DeSmog: “The Committee are looking at a number of policy and regulatory impacts of the move to net zero. To do that effectively it takes evidence from witnesses with a broad range of views. 

“The Committee will weigh up all the evidence it receives before making any recommendations. Future witnesses will be announced in due course on the committee webpage.”

The GWPF did not respond to a request for comment at time of publication. 

Adam Barnett - new white crop
Adam Barnett is DeSmog's UK News Reporter. He is a former Staff Writer at Left Foot Forward and BBC Local Democracy Reporter.

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