A charity with ties to senior Conservative MPs has appointed a professor who said protecting the environment was an “innovation of the Devil” and has dismissed the science of human-caused climate change.
Samuele Furfari, a former EU energy advisor, this month joined the “academic advisory council” of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – the UK’s main climate science denial group, which has ties to several of the politicians who ran to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The move follows a resurgence of the group in recent months and comes as record-breaking heatwaves have struck many parts of the world.
The GWPF, which claims to conduct “rigorous research”, and welcomed influential backbench MP Steve Baker as a trustee last year, hailed Furfari as “one of Europe’s most eminent energy policy analysts” in a press release.
Furfari, who was an advisor to the Energy Directorate-General of the EU Commission until 2018 and now teaches the Geopolitics of Energy at the Free University of Brussels, will become one of the charity’s self-described peer reviewers.
Dr Ella Gilbert, a climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, said human-caused climate change was “already having profound impacts on our environment”, including the duration and intensity of heatwaves and the loss of ice from glaciers.
“To dispute these facts is to dispute the science. The appointment of somebody who challenges the overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that the GWPF is clutching at straws to defend its fringe and unfounded views,” she added.
“Dr Furfari appears to tick all the boxes for membership of the Foundation’s so-called Academic Advisory Council”, said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“He should feel very much at home among the other dinosaurs.”
Furfari and Climate Denial
The Belgium-born Italian citizen has a history of dismissing environmental action.
In a 2010 article, he wrote: “Putting our hope in environmentalism is the latest innovation of the Devil to keep man from the love and grace of God. Should C.S. Lewis have written Screwtape Letters today he would probably add ‘environmentalism’ to the list of Satan’s tricks.”
In an interview in March this year, he called targets to switch to renewable energy “political posturing”, and said Europe should continue to use fossil fuels, including coal, adding that the world will continue to use “lots of coal, without worrying about CO2 emissions”.
Earlier this month, Furfari wrote an article about UK politics which blamed climate policies for the UK prime minister’s resignation, concluding: “Boris Johnson committed political suicide by becoming an environmentalist.”
Johnson was forced to resign over his handling of a sex scandal involving a key government figure and after being convicted of breaking Covid rules during the pandemic. There is currently strong support among the British public for action on climate change.
In 2020, Furfari called such action “the green virus which may well be even more dangerous than Covid-19.” Last summer, he tweeted that he hoped a pro-nuclear activist would “abandon” the “taboo” that “climate change is happening because of humans”.
Furfari is president of the European Society of Engineers and Industrialists (SEII), an organisation that aims to “promote the essential role of engineers and industrialists for sustainable development”.
In 2011, a board member at the SEII organised an event with S. Fred Singer, a now-deceased American atmospheric physicist and climate science denier who received funding from the fossil fuel industry. The event was not approved by the organisation and its organiser, Henri Masson, later resigned.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Marc Goossens, secretary general of the SEII, told DeSmog: “What Samuel Furfari (or any other member of our Board of Directors) says or writes in the media engages only himself, even if he says that he is the President of SEII. It doesn’t bother us as long as he doesn’t systematically deny well-established facts.”
Regarding climate change, he said: “To speak of “climate denial” is not clear. Some people can agree with the fact of climate warming, but disagree about its cause, about its future evolution and, worse, about the chosen solutions to it.”
He said “so-called climate science” is “corrupted by opinions about what to take or not to take into account, or about what to introduce into the models used” and that this was a view “shared by the majority of our members”.
The GWPF’s academic advisory council includes Telegraph columnistMatt Ridley; GWPF Energy Editor John Constable, who in March called for a complete phaseout of wind and solar energy; and Professor Ole Humlum, who in April wrote a paper for the GWPF claiming that there is “no evidence of a climate crisis”
DeSmog has reported on the numerous links between Tory leadership candidates and the group. Penny Mordaunt – who was eliminated last week – has received thousands in donations from GWPF trustee Terence Mordaunt and funder Michael Hintze.
Attorney General Suella Braverman’s anti-net zero bid for leader was run by GWPF trustee Steve Baker. Another anti-net zero candidate, Kemi Badenoch, received a £1,000 gift in 2019 from Hintze.
Last week, DeSmog revealed that Patrick Minford, a Thatcherite economist cited by frontrunner Liz Truss as backing her plans to cut taxes, has a history of working with a US shale gas magnate who has also been known to fund the GWPF.
“Over the past few weeks, the Foundation has shown itself to be completely out of touch with reality, denying the risks associated with the heatwave and promoting false claims about net zero that have been made by failed candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party”, said Bob Ward.
“The Foundation continues to be wrong about the science, wrong about the economics and wrong about the politics of climate change.”
Furfari, the GWPF, the European Society of Engineers and Industrialists, and and the Energy Directorate-General of the EU Commission have all been contacted for comment.
Updated at 16:50pm BST, 27/7/22, to include a response from Marc Goossens and to clarify the circumstances around the 2011 event with S. Fred Singer.