The new chairman of GB News has a history of sharing articles that dismiss the threat of climate change, sharpening concerns about the TV channel’s role as a platform for opponents of climate action.
Between 2013 and 2017, United Arab Emirates-based investment manager Alan McCormick tweeted numerous articles by climate science deniers, including one calling on readers to “celebrate carbon dioxide”.
GB News regularly hosts guests who cast doubt on climate science and oppose green polices, including the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) of Conservative MPs. In March, presenter Nigel Farage launched a call for a “Net Zero Referendum” on the UK’s climate targets, modeled on his successful Brexit campaign.
McCormick, whose appointment was made public at the end of April, has also tweeted praise for calls for deregulation in the UK by Tory MP Steve Baker, who is leading the NZSG’s backbench revolt against the UK’s 2050 net zero goal.
Baker, a former Brexit Minister, recently promoted a report by the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), of which he is a trustee, claiming there is no evidence for the climate crisis.
One of the main investors in GB News is the Legatum Group, a Dubai-based investment firm co-founded by McCormick. The company owns the Legatum Institute, an influential pro-Brexit think-tank that has taken donations from the American Koch oil dynasty.
News of McCormick’s appointment as chairman of GB News’ parent company All Perspectives Ltd emerged on the Guido Fawkes political blog and was later confirmed in a tweet by Legatum Group. According to official records, McCormick has been a director of the company since April 2021 and lives in the United Arab Emirates.
McCormick and two other men involved in Legatum – Mark Stoleson, its Maltese chief executive, and Christopher Chandler, a New Zealand-born billionaire – are listed as “persons with significant control”, meaning they hold at least a quarter of shares or voting rights.
Responding to the news, Jennie King, head of civic action and education at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think-tank, said GB News had become a “central hub” of climate scepticism in the British media, and that “its influence increasingly extends beyond UK borders”.
Legatum and GB News did not respond to requests for comment.
McCormick’s Climate Tweets
McCormick’s tweets about climate change, reviewed by DeSmog, mostly consisted of an article headline and a link without comment. In March 2015, McCormick tweeted a Wall Street Journal article headlined “The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics”.
The piece is by Richard S Lindzen, a US scientist who has said believing carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate change is “pretty close to believing in magic”, and has received thousands of dollars from fossil fuel-funded think tanks.
The same month, McCormick tweeted “Why I am a climate sceptic”, a piece by Patrick Moore published by the Heartland Institute, a US fossil fuel-backed think-tank, in which Moore calls on readers to “celebrate carbon dioxide”.
In May 2017, McCormick tweeted a climate sceptic WSJ editorial in which columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes that “climate advocacy has morphed into a religion”.
In 2016 he tweeted a Mail on Sunday story titled “Exposed: The Great Green LSE Con” republished by the GWPF, and written by David Rose, a self-described “friend” of the GWPF who has written various stories sceptical of climate science.
In 2013, McCormick tweeted “The message of shale gas is: scrap the Climate Act”, the headline of a Telegraph piece by the now-late climate sceptic Christopher Booker that mocks “the delusion that, by cutting down our ‘carbon emissions’, we can somehow change the Earth’s climate” and calls on politicians to abolish the UK’s climate legislation.
The climate sceptic tweets appear to stop in 2017 but McCormick recently retweeted a piece by GWPF advisor Matt Ridley recycling unproven claims that anti-fracking protests have been funded by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Think-Tank Tied to Fossil Fuels
The Legatum Institute Foundation (LIF), a charitable enterprise created by the Legatum Group, has taken funding in recent years from another foundation tied to US fossil fuel giant Koch Industries, a major supporter of think-tanks, lobbyists and politicians opposing climate action in the United States.
US tax filings show the LIF, whose board of trustees McCormick chairs, received donations of £60,700 ($77,000) in both 2019 and 2018 from the Charles Koch Foundation, the charitable arm of Koch Industries. According to Greenpeace, the Koch family spent more than £116.1 million ($145.5 million) directly financing 90 groups denying climate change science from 1997-2018.
The LIF’s think-tank, the Legatum Institute, played a leading role in the libertarian drive for a “hard” Brexit and in 2018 was found to have breached Charity Commission guidelines on neutrality for one of its reports.
The Legatum Institute Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.
GB News and Climate Science Denial
GB News has emerged as a key arena for a small group of Conservative MPs opposed to net zero to make their case. Last month, Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, was interviewed on GB News about a poll that supposedly showed public support for lifting the UK’s ban on hydrauling fracturing, or fracking, for shale gas.
DeSmog revealed that the survey was paid for by denial group Net Zero Watch (NZW), the campaigning arm of the GWPF. NZW head of policy Harry Wilkinson, who also works as Mackinlay’s parliamentary aide, is a frequent guest on GB News.
Another frequent guest is Lois Perry, director of campaign group CAR26, which questions whether carbon dioxide is a “significant factor in global warming”. In October, during the COP26 summit, the channel interviewed activist Alex Epstein, who used his appearance to reject the scientific consensus on humans’ climate impact and whether it is “net negative”, adding: “The jury is out because there’s a lot of beneficial warming”.
Climate sceptics are also employed as GB News presenters, who have used the channel to promote their climate views.
Last summer, GB News presenter Dan Wootton accused the UN’s climate science body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of using “hysterical” language and “spreading terror”. Last month, presenter Darren Grimes praised oil and gas and accused the UK government of “net zero zealotry”.
Also last month, GB News economics and business editor Liam Halligan wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that “fracking deserves a second chance”. During the COP26 climate summit in November, Halligan used his GB News platform to accuse the summit of “hypocrisy and virtue signalling”.
In February, the IPCC noted the dangers of misinformation which “undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency” at a time when there is “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.
King, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, noted that GB News produced 22 posts about climate change on average every day during the COP26 summit last year, generating over 100,000 interactions, compared to the IPCC’s six posts per day and 18,000 interactions.
“Using GB News as a platform, Farage and others have almost single-handedly manufactured controversy around a Net Zero referendum, despite minimal evidence of public support,” she added. “Such content not only influences policymaking in the UK, but is excerpted and used by anti-climate movements across the globe.”
Sean Buchan of campaign group Stop Funding Heat said there had been “warning signs” since its launch that GB News was out of step with climate science, so McCormick’s tweets were no surprise. Noting that “major advertisers” were increasingly avoiding the channel, he said he hoped the news would be “another reason for those advertisers aligned with climate science to financially distance themselves from the organisation.”
You can explore our profiles of climate science deniers in DeSmog’s Climate Disinformation Database.