DeSmog

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott Joins UK Climate Denial Group

Abbott was a member of the centre-right Liberal Party that was widely seen as hostile to climate policy.
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Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has joined the UK's main climate denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Credit: Justin Qian/Xinhua/Alamy Live News.

Ex Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has joined the UK’s main climate denial group saying: “we need more science”.

Abbott announced he was “pleased” to join the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which had “consistently injected a note of realism into the climate debate”.

“All of us want to save the only planet we have but this should not be by means which impoverish poorer people in richer countries and hold poorer countries back,” he said in a GWPF press release today.

“We need more genuine science and less groupthink in this debate – that’s where the GWPF has been a commendably consistent if lonely voice.”

The GWPF, which was founded by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, is known for consistently spreading climate disinformation and undermining net zero policies designed to tackle carbon emissions. The organisation is currently facing down a complaint to the UK Charity Commission, made by a cross-party group of MPs and the Good Law Project, who say the GWPF is not a charity, but rather a political lobbying group.

Abbott, who was appointed as a trade adviser to the UK during Liz Truss’s term as secretary of state, has been a supporter of the GWPF since at least 2017, when he gave a speech to the organisation in which he said climate change was “probably doing good”.

As prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015, Abbott’s centre-right Liberal Party was widely seen as hostile to climate policy. 

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, told DeSmog Abbott would “find himself at home” at the GWPF.

“Tony Abbott’s government ignored the science of climate change and remained focused on a backward-looking agenda for the Australian power system and economy. He will no doubt find himself at home with lots of other blokes at the Global Warming Policy Foundation who have a backward-looking agenda for the UK’s economy,” Ward said.

Abbott will sit on the board alongside two other recent additions: Lord David Frost, former minister of state, and Michael John Cole, a businessman who claims there is “no causal link” between human-made carbon emissions and global warming. 

Jerome Booth, the GWPF chairman, said the appointment brought “a global perspective and policy insight at the very highest level” and would “further assist our objectives and help our efforts to foster a culture of debate, respect and scrutiny in policy areas that are currently dominated by intolerance, high emotions, moral reasoning and confusion”.

DeSmog has approached the GWPF and Tony Abbott for comment.

Michaela
Michaela is the Lead Researcher at DeSmog, with a particular focus on agribusiness and the livestock sector.
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.

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