Coverage of Tory MP’s Fuel Duty Letter Ignores Ties to Climate Denier Motoring Lobbyist

Robert Halfon MP works with FairFuelUK, a haulage industry-funded lobby group whose founder Howard Cox rejects climate science.
Coverage of Tory MP’s Fuel Duty Letter Ignores Ties to Climate Denier Motoring Lobbyist
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Robert Halfon MP
Robert Halfon MP. Credit: House of Commons CC BY 3.0

Media coverage of a letter from MPs calling for fuel duty to be cut in the Spring budget has failed to mention its author is closely allied to a climate science denier and haulage industry lobbyist with an undeclared interest in fossil fuel-powered cars.

Robert Halfon MP wrote a letter to the prime minister and Treasury today urging them to cut fuel duty and VAT on fuel. The letter, signed by 53 MPs, was covered in The Sun and the Daily Mail newspapers, the former with the headline: “Over 50 Tory MPs break cover and demand Rishi Sunak slashes fuel duty to help struggling Brits.” 

None of the coverage notes Halfon’s work with FairFuelUK, a lobby group funded by freight industry bodies Logistics UK and the Road Haulage Association whose founder Howard Cox has a long record of climate science denial. 

It comes as DeSmog has revealed how the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) of MPs — of which Halfon is a member – have used concerns about energy bills to spread misinformation and push a pro-fossil fuel agenda.

Halfon is vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Fuel for UK Motorists and Hauliers, which Cox helps to run. NZSG chair Craig Mackinlay MP is also chair of the APPG. 

Halfon promoted FairFuelUK in a Conservative Home article in January. 

Climate Science Denial

Cox has downplayed the role of what he calls “alleged man-made causes” and questioned whether climate change is linked to extreme weather. 

In January, Cox spoke on two panels hosted by CAR26, a climate science denial group that questions whether carbon dioxide is a “significant factor in global warming” and suggests teaching children about climate change is “borderline child abuse”. CAR26 director Lois Perry has said the climate crisis is a “con” designed by “elites” to make people poor and hungry. 

At one of those events, Cox admitted he used a “loaded” question in an online survey, also covered by The Sun, that supposedly showed public opposition to the petrol and diesel ban and other government climate policies.

Fossil Fuel-Powered Cars

DeSmog recently revealed that Cox wrote a report for the APPG opposing the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars, but failed to declare that he is director of a company, Ultimum, that is developing the sort of “fuel catalyst” his report promoted, giving him an interest in the survival of fossil fuel-powered cars. 

Another contributor to the report was the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s most prominent climate science denial organisation, which is working with NZSG MPs to oppose green policies. Halfon received £2,000 in 2019 from Australian hedge fund manager Michael Hintze, one of the GWPF’s few known donors.

Cox denied any conflict of interest and claimed he would be resigning from the company. Halfon, who denied having any interest in the company, used a question in parliament in 2019 to ask the then Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to meet him and Cox to discuss fuel catalysts, describing them as an “immediate and highly effective way to reduce emissions in urban areas”.

The APPG report featured supportive quotes from eight members of the NZSG – Mackinlay, former Brexit minister Steve Baker, Julian Knight, Andrew Bridgen, Karl McCartney, Philip Davies, Andrew Lewer, and Lord Peter Lilley.

You can explore our profiles of climate science deniers in DeSmog’s Climate Disinformation Database.

Coverage of Tory MP’s Fuel Duty Letter Ignores Ties to Climate Denier Motoring Lobbyist
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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