A “sustainable development” conference taking place in London gave a platform to two prominent climate science deniers, who used the event to claim that coal-fired power is “clean” and call global warming a “religion”.
Marc Morano and Christopher Monckton were hosted at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair this week for the “Global Investment in Sustainable Development” event organised by Climate Change (CC) Forum, which touts itself as the “green Davos”.
Last week DeSmog revealed that UK Climate Minister Graham Stuart had agreed to give a keynote speech at the event, before pulling out on Friday after DeSmog asked questions about Morano and Monckton’s involvement.
When contacted, CC Forum’s CEO Max Studennikoff, who claims to support climate action, defended holding a debate with climate science deniers as a way of “publicly debunking their arguments”.
But DeSmog can report that the pair were given free rein to spread climate science misinformation at the event on Tuesday, with their arguments warmly applauded by the audience. Monckton was also allowed to give a keynote speech unchallenged in which he called net zero “not possible” and likened global warming to a religious belief.
Morano and Monckton appeared on GB News after the event claiming victory, and referenced coverage by DeSmog, which Monckton called “the smug blog”.
At the event, Studennikoff expressed frustration that the climate minister had pulled out, but repeatedly claimed that Prime Minister Liz Truss had provided a message of support for the conference. Monckton read out a “short message” he claimed was emailed from Truss. Number 10 did not respond when asked by DeSmog whether such a message was provided.
The event was partly supported by Mastercard, and featured a “fireside chat” with the company’s vice president Derren Powell. Mastercard had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted the dangers of climate misinformation, which it said “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”.
The scientific body has also described the link between human activity and climate change as “unequivocal”.
Climate Change ‘Debate’
U.S. activist Morano runs the climate science denial website Climate Depot and is Director of Communications at the think tank CFACT, which has received funding from ExxonMobil and Chevron. He is one of the world’s most aggressive climate science deniers, and has said that climate scientists deserve to be “publicly flogged”.
In the debate this week, Morano said: “There is no climate crisis, from my perspective, no climate emergency, and even if there were, the work of this net zero agenda would have no impact on said climate crisis.” He also plugged his book, The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Global Lockdown, to the audience of wealthy investors.
Monckton has a long record of anti-climate activism. In 2010 he led Tea Party crowds in the U.S. in a call and response chant of “Global warming is?”, with the crowd shouting “Bullshit!” Earlier this year he wrote that “communist front groups posing as environmental campaign entities but in reality fostered, funded and too often founded by Moscow and Beijing” were targeting climate “sceptic” scientists.
In the debate, Monckton claimed “there has been no global warming at all for the last eight years”, and attacked climate policies, saying: “Global warming policy is a strategic threat, but global warming, so far at any rate, isn’t, and doesn’t look as though it’s going to be.”
He also supported continuing to burn fossil fuels, claiming: “The fact is coal-fired power is still, far and away the cheapest, and now the cleanest [source of electricity] because it has very high energy density.”
Coal is the highest-emitting form of energy, producing a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Renewable energy from offshore wind is currently estimated to be nine times cheaper than gas.
Despite CC Forum’s claims about the debate format and its intention to “debunk” the deniers’ arguments, its star speaker, Belgian economist Gunter Pauli, agreed with Morano and Monckton that net zero targets, which he called “the opium of the masses”, should be abandoned.
Morano welcomed this, asking: “Are you an outlier when you say that net zero is the opium of the masses? Does everyone in this room agree with him?” Debate chair Rand Neveloff, managing director of consultancy Titan Global, said: “I would say you have a much healthier mix in this room than you would imagine.”
Both Morano and Monckton received applause for their talking points from the audience.
Pauli’s debate partner, Mustaq Patel, managing director of geothermal energy company Cindrigo, was able to point to the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, but spoke the least in the debate.
After the event, Morano told DeSmog he was surprised to have been invited to a conference on sustainable development, but said “the audience loved it”.
Later in the day, Monckton gave a keynote speech unchallenged, where he presented a slideshow claiming that cutting emissions to net zero by 2050 is a bad investment and could not be reached, claiming: “You can’t get to net zero. It isn’t actually possible.”
He concluded: “It’s all very well to have beliefs. If global warming is your religion, that’s fine. I don’t want to interfere with anybody’s religion.”
Unlike the debate, his speech was followed by a brief question and answer session. DeSmog was refused an opportunity to ask Monckton a question.
CC Forum CEO Studennikoff calls himself an “ardent supporter of climate change action” but says he believes “in the power of private wealth more than in policy making”.
The conference will close with a “Networking Luncheon” at the House of Lords on Thursday.