DeSmog

Prime Minister Liz Truss Accepted £5,000 From Climate Denial Funder

Lord Vinson is one of the few known donors to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which advocates for fracking via its campaign arm Net Zero Watch.
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Prime Minister Liz Truss chairs a Cabinet meeting. Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A lifetime peer who has helped finance the UK’s main climate denial group donated £5,000 to Liz Truss in the run-up to her election victory.

Lord Nigel Vinson made the donation towards transport costs for Truss’s campaign, according to the latest register of MPs’ financial interests out this week, which covers donations in the month up until October 3.

It comes as Truss faces mounting criticism over economic and climate policies announced in the first weeks of her premiership. On Wednesday, protesters disrupted Truss’ speech at her first Conservative party conference, accusing her of “U-turns” on fracking and environmental protections.

Vinson, a supporter of the late Margaret Thatcher, has previously donated nearly £50,000 to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) through his own charity. The donation to Truss on September 4, the day before her election, was made in a personal capacity.

The GWPF was founded in 2009 by climate denier Nigel Lawson, the ex-chancellor, to combat “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change. The group is known for spreading disinformation to oppose green policies, most recently through Net Zero Watch, its campaign arm.

This latest revelation follows on from DeSmog’s discovery in September that Truss’ campaign had received funds from pro-fracking interests and the climate denier Lance Forman. 

“It is extremely concerning, but unfortunately unsurprising, to hear that Liz Truss has been backed by climate deniers and free market think tanks that are dedicated to lower taxes, bringing back fracking and watering down the UK’s climate commitments,” said Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer.

“In just a few short days this government has shown what it is all about – a dangerous and reckless pursuit of growth at all costs, which willingly increases inequality and has zero regard for our environment.”

Vinson served in the House of Lords for 37 years until his retirement in July this year, and is one of a handful of known donors to the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a group he once described as “admirable”.

Vinson also holds extensive links to a number of free market think tanks based in and around Tufton Street, home to a small but influential network of libertarian, pro-Brexit thinktanks and lobby groups, including the GWPF.

He is a prominent funder of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a London-based free-market think tank and educational charity of which he is a “life vice president”. He also co-founded the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) with fellow free market advocates Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974. 

After her election as Prime Minister, IEA director general Mark Littlewood told Politico that Liz Truss had spoken at IEA events more than “any other politician over the past 12 years”. 

The IEA had a strong presence at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, with a number of events held throughout the four days.

During one discussion, Andy Mayer, chief operating officer and energy analyst at the IEA, called the legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 “nonsense”, saying that the energy crisis shows that energy security and “affordability” are more important.

In September DeSmog also reported that Truss had hired multiple staffers who had held positions at the IEA, as well as one who had worked for Lord Frost, a prominent supporter of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, a group of backbench Conservative MPs opposing many of the government’s net zero measures. 

The donations also show the extensive links between Truss’ campaign to the Centre for Policy Studies. The free market think tank, based in Tufton Street, promotes an ideology of small government and economic liberalism.

In August, Truss received £50,000 from Graham Edwards, a CPS board member. In the same month, she also accepted a £8,825 donation from JC Bamford Excavators Ltd. Lord Bamford is the chairman of construction giant JCB, and sits on the board of the CPS alongside Edwards.

Truss received more than £500,000 for her bid to become prime minister, much of it from donors linked to the financial and construction industries.

Liz Truss’s office, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Nigel Vinson have been contacted for comment.

Phoebe Cooke headshot - credit Laura King Photography
Phoebe joined DeSmog in 2020. She is currently co-deputy editor and was previously the organisation's Senior Reporter.
Michaela
Michaela is the Lead Researcher at DeSmog, with a particular focus on agribusiness and the livestock sector.

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