The UK’s most prominent climate science denial group has launched a new anti-net zero campaign to oppose the government’s green policies, a move experts dubbed the “latest tactic” from the “same old climate change deniers”, warning the public not to be “fooled” by the rebrand.
The “Net Zero Watch” website was unveiled today with the stated aim of discussing the “serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies”.
The site notes that it was set up and is managed by the Global Warming Policy Forum, the campaigning wing of the Foundation, which has rejected mainstream climate science and green measures for over a decade, recently calling for the upcoming COP26 UN climate summit to be cancelled.
The name of the new campaign echoes that of the “Net Zero Scrutiny Group” reportedly being set up in parliament by Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who has said he will use GWPF research for the group. It is unclear if there is any explicit relationship between the two, however.
Net Zero Watch (NZW) shares GWPF board members, including founder and former chancellor Lord Lawson and director Benny Peiser. The former GWPF URL now re-directs to the NZW site and the group’s Twitter account has been rebranded as Net Zero Watch.
The new website also hosts GWPF’s seven demands, published last month, which include calls to scrap a range of net zero emissions policies, and the removal of “fiscal and other disincentives to oil and gas exploration”, including fracking, to boost domestic production.
The campaign has been promoted on Twitter by former Brexit minister and Conservative MP Steve Baker, who recently became a GWPF trustee and last week told an event at the Conservative Party conference that much climate science is “contestable” and “sometimes propagandised”.
The rebrand was criticised by experts and campaigners as a “ruse” to promote the GWPF’s anti-climate science agenda.
“Net Zero Watch is clearly just the latest tactic by the Global Warming Policy Foundation to promote lukewarmer propaganda”, said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
“It will continue to spread false claims about the implications of reaching net zero emissions while also denying the risks of climate change. Same old climate change deniers, same old climate change denial.”
He added: “I hope nobody will be fooled and that journalists in particular quiz them about their secret sources of funding in this country and abroad.”
A Greenpeace UK spokesperson said: “The people who spent the last twenty years campaigning to preserve our addiction to fossil fuels are transforming themselves into a radical new campaign to prolong our use of gas and petrol.
“Presumably in the hope that this sophisticated rebranding will fool the media into forgetting their history of being relentlessly wrong about everything climate-related.
“It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s anyone out there with a memory short enough to fall for this ruse.”
Richard Black, senior associate at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “Anyone who’s familiar with GWPF’s assembled body of flawed analysis won’t be surprised to see that the new organisation’s first offering is to claim to care about energy bills while promoting policy options that would increase bills for decades, namely nuclear and fracking.
“Nevertheless it is encouraging to find GWPF has given up on pretty much all of its other canonical arguments – climate change won’t be that bad, adapting to impacts is better than trying to cut emissions, no other nation but Britain is decarbonising – an effective admission that it has lost on all of them.”
He added: “Given the escalating cost of climate impacts and the tumbling cost of zero-carbon, plus the constant public support for climate solutions, GWPF will inevitably lose on this one, too: you can rebrand, but lipstick on a pig will always be obvious.”
The Global Warming Policy Forum has been contacted for comment.