Heritage Foundation Hosts UK Climate Science Denier at Event Opposing ‘Green Energy’

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, spoke at a Heritage panel event where net zero was branded “a religion”.
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Benny Peiser (centre) Heritage Foundation event with Diana Furchtgott-Roth (left) and Nile Gardiner (right). Credit: Heritage Foundation webinar
Benny Peiser (centre) Heritage Foundation event with Diana Furchtgott-Roth (left) and Nile Gardiner (right). Credit: Heritage Foundation webinar

An influential US think tank has hosted a well-known UK climate science denier at an event attacking what one speaker called Europe’s “socialist” net zero policies. 

The Heritage Foundation panel event on December 8, called “Lessons for America from Europe’s Green Energy Disaster”, featured Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s main climate science denial group. 

The GWPF published two reports this year rejecting climate science on the greenhouse effect. Its campaign arm Net Zero Watch, of which Peiser is also director, in October called for “a new fleet of coal fired power stations”. 

The event is the latest example of UK and US groups working together to oppose climate action. Other links across the Atlantic include the Atlas Network, a fossil fuel-linked US think tank that works with UK libertarians, to the GWPF receiving money from its US “Friends of GWPF” fundraising arm. 

Peiser used the event, which was streamed online, to claim that the energy crisis is caused by “a dogmatic prioritization” of renewable energy over alternatives like “shale gas or nuclear”. 

According to the International Energy Agency, however, the energy crisis is caused by the high wholesale cost of gas and fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Heritage Foundation presents itself as a mainstream think tank and has influenced several Republican US administrations. However, along with Peiser, this week’s event featured a number of links to climate science denial. 

The event’s chair Diana Furchtgott-Roth – who is director of Heritage’s Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment – wrote an article for Forbes last month which argued that the West should encourage “all countries” to use “natural gas, coal, and nuclear” to help the poor. 

The article also cast doubt on climate science, suggesting “some research shows little change” in extreme weather, downplayed sea-level rises, adding: “Climate change is going on, as it has for millennia.”

In 2019, Furchtgott-Roth received $227,304 from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a think tank which received more than $3 million from oil giant Koch Industries’ charitable arm Koch Foundations, according to a Greenpeace investigation. 

The panel’s other speaker was Nile Gardiner, director of Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, who said: “I do think the British government needs to rethink the whole green energy agenda. It’s not a conservative agenda, in fact it’s a socialist agenda.”

He said: “I think net zero has become basically a form of religion, and anyone who questions the dogma on this immediately is accused of being a heretic.” 

Climate Deniers

Gardiner also repeatedly endorsed calls for a Brexit-style referendum on the UK’s net zero policies, an idea which has been pushed by climate science denial groups

Gardiner cited a YouGov survey commissioned by CAR26, whose director Lois Perry said in August: “I do not believe that man-made climate change is a thing.” In November 2021, Perry spread the conspiracy theory that global warming is a “con” by “elites” to make people poor and hungry. 

He also argued that a “net zero referendum” was justified due to what he called the “vast sum of public money” involved in cutting emissions to net zero. The UK’s net zero target will cost less than 1 percent of GDP per year by 2035, according to the government’s advisory Climate Change Committee. 

The economic policies of Liz Truss received high praise from Gardiner. He stated her “overall approach” of cutting taxes was “absolutely right”, adding that she was brought down by “her U-turn over the issue of [abolishing] the top rate of tax”. Truss’s mini-budget cost the UK economy £30 billion, according to analysis by the independent Resolution Foundation. 

The Heritage Foundation event was attended by Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received funding from ExxonMobil. Ebell was tapped by Donald Trump’s team to lead its transition for the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016.

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Adam Barnett is DeSmog's UK News Reporter. He is a former Staff Writer at Left Foot Forward and BBC Local Democracy Reporter.

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