Much of climate science is “contestable” and “sometimes propagandised”, former Brexit minister Steve Baker has told a Conservative Party conference event, in which he claimed some UN climate scenarios were “implausible”.
Speaking at an event in Manchester hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Tory MP said students should be taught that they will become “poorer”, “colder”, and eat “insects for protein” as a result of climate policies.
A 2018 Greenpeace investigation revealed that the IEA, a free-market think tank with a record of opposing government action on climate change, had taken funding from British oil company BP since 1967.
During the event, Baker failed to mention he had recently become a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group criticised for its “laughable record of inaccurate and misleading claims”. His remarks come a month ahead of the UK government hosting the UN COP26 climate summit.
The MP for Wycombe in Buckinghamshire was being interviewed yesterday by IEA director general Mark Littlewood, who asked about the UK government’s target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, of which Baker is a leading critic.
Steve Baker said: “A lot of the science is absolutely settled. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’ve emitted plenty of it. That will have contributed to climate change. Lots of it is actually still contestable, but that’s not really the point.”
He continued: “Interested as I am as a chartered aerospace engineer who used to work on thermodynamics, with an MSc in computer science, capable of understanding models – fascinated as I am, I am not having that conversation about the science. But I have to say, the science is sometimes propagandised.”
Baker also criticised the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, claiming: “The most dramatic and scary IPCC scenarios, the extreme ones that lead to disaster and doom, aren’t going to happen. They are implausible.”
Baker has a long record of opposing action on climate change. In a 2013 debate in parliament he called for the repeal of the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, and this year he has repeatedly claimed that “the poor” will suffer due to net zero targets – a view rejected by the government’s expert advisory body, the Climate Change Committee.
At the conference event Baker went on to say steps should be taken to address climate change, but they should be limited by what the UK can afford and what technology will allow. He said the government should be honest with people about what he argues such action would mean.
Citing a report in The Sun on research into deriving protein from insects, he said students should be told that “they are going to be poorer, they’re going to be colder, and they can expect, if that report is right, to be eating insects for protein”.
Baker also made a plea for civil disagreement with what he called “eco-anarchists” of environmental campaign groups like Extinction Rebellion, saying: “That doesn’t mean I think they’re bad people, I just think they’re profoundly wrong and would destroy civilization.”
IEA’s Littlewood had prefaced his question to Baker about net zero targets by saying: “I’m not a climate change denier. I think greenhouse gases do warm the environment. I’m just not sure this is the best way of tackling that problem, and it’s certainly a very expensive way of tackling that problem.”
Both Baker and the IEA were strong campaigners for a “hard” Brexit. Baker was a Brexit minister under Theresa May and chairman of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs. DeSmog has previously mapped the extensive crossover between those who have both backed Brexit and opposed action on climate change.
The Conservative Party has been contacted for comment.