A Tory donor who has helped fund the UK’s leading climate science denial group is to be made a member of the House of Lords, prompting Green MP Caroline Lucas to call for an “urgent” investigation.
Billionaire Australian hedge fund manager Michael Hintze, one of the few known funders of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), is set to receive a peerage, according to a Sunday Times report over the weekend.
Hintze’s peerage was criticised by Caroline Lucas as “utter hypocrisy” given the prime minister’s rhetoric about the need for climate action at last year’s COP26 UN climate summit.
Speaking to DeSmog, she said the House of Lords Commission must “urgently” investigate the appointment of Hintze, who she accused of “funding the destruction of the planet”.
Hintze will join several other climate sceptic peers in the House of Lords, including GWPF founder Lord Lawson, former GWPF trustees Peter Lilley and Charles Moore, Matt Ridley, who is on the GWPF advisory board, and outspoken climate sceptics Claire Fox and Anne Widdecombe.
Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, who presided over years of misleading climate coverage, is reportedly also on his way to the Lords.
Hintze, founder and co-CEO of the global asset management fund CQS, has given £4.7 million to Conservative causes, including £50,000 to the Conservative Party in November 2021, according to The Sunday Times.
He also donated £100,000 to the official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, which was run by Dominic Cummings and fronted by Boris Johnson.
In 2012, The Guardian reported that Hintze had made reference in an email to his financial support of the GWPF, saying he was “fully committed” and was “supporting Nigel Lawson’s initiative”.
The GWPF was founded by former chancellor Lord Lawson in 2009 and is currently part of a campaign against the UK’s 2050 net zero target. In April, the GWPF published a paper claiming that there is “no evidence of a climate crisis”. Its campaign arm, Net Zero Watch, published a report in March calling for “rapid” development of oil and gas and a “complete” phaseout of renewable energy.
Hintze also donated to Conservative MPs with a record of opposing green policies ahead of the 2019 general election, including £2,500 to Andrew Lewer, who is involved in the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, and £2,000 to Rob Halfon, a supporter of the FairFuelUK campaign against fuel duty. Lewer received a £500 ticket to the Conservative Party’s Black and White Ball from Hintze in October 2019.
Hintze is also a trustee of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a libertarian think tank with a history of criticising government action on climate change. A 2018 Greenpeace Unearthed investigation revealed that the IEA had taken funding from British oil company BP every year since 1967.
The Hintze connection is one of a number of ties between the GWPF and the IEA. Financier Neil Record chairs both the IEA and the GWPF’s Net Zero Watch campaign, and Lord Nigel Vinson, a “life vice president” of the IEA, is another GWPF donor.
Caroline Lucas, who last month reported the GWPF to the charity commission over alleged lobbying and its receipt of funding from U.S. interests, told DeSmog: “It’s already an insult to democracy that the Prime Minister is stuffing the House of Lords with his billionaire Tory donors.
“But the fact that those billionaires are funding climate denial and delay – barely six months after he claimed we were at ‘one minute to midnight’ in a race to avert the impending climate crisis – exposes the utter hypocrisy of any climate pledge that comes out of his mouth.”
She added: “The House of Lords Commission must urgently investigate this appointment – we can’t let the government fill our parliament with people funding the destruction of our planet.”
The hedge fund manager is well-known for his philanthropic activities. His £5 million donation in 2014 to London’s Natural History Museum led to its central gallery being renamed “Hintze Hall”.
Hintze’s personal views on climate change are unclear. Bloomberg News has reported that his foundation’s website – which no longer appears to be online – said he cares “deeply” about the environment and believes global warming is real.
The website said Hintze believes it is “highly likely” that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is “in part” caused by human activity, but, as Bloomberg paraphrases, “it is too simplistic to only focus on carbon dioxide emissions as a cause of environmental damage”.
Michael Hintze, CQS, the GWPF and the Conservative Party did not respond when contacted for comment.