Boris Johnson’s Honours List Includes Climate Science Deniers and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists 

Former prime minister’s nominations show he is willing to “take a wrecking ball to our planet”, says Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
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Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list includes MPs and political advisors with ties to climate science denial and the oil and gas industry, DeSmog can reveal. 

The former prime minister’s 45 nominees – who were approved by his successor Rishi Sunak on Friday, just hours before Johnson’s resignation as an MP – include four Conservative MPs with a history of casting doubt over climate science or policy. 

Andrea Jenkyns MP, who recently joined the UK’s main climate science denial campaign group  Net Zero Watch (NZW), will gain an OBE, in an honours list that includes anti-climate MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Fabricant, and Priti Patel

Figures at lobbying firm CT Group, which has lobbied for fossil fuel companies, and the head of mining giant Rio Tinto, are also nominated for honours 

“Boris Johnson has lavished not only honours on his allies and cronies, but power, influence and status at the highest political level”, Caroline Lucas, outgoing Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, told DeSmog.

“For so many of those allies to have links to fossil fuels, climate denial and delay shows that Johnson always has been and always will be willing to take a wrecking ball to our planet if his own career depends on it.”

Sunak is under pressure to reverse his approval of the honours list after parliament’s privileges committee this week found Johnson had deliberately misled the House about parties at Downing Street during lockdown. 

Lucas added: “If Sunak doesn’t block this list immediately following the privileges committee report, he will be an accomplice in these climate-trashing appointments.”

Tory Climate Science Denial

Jenkyns, MP for Morley and Outwood, two weeks ago joined the board of NZW, an arm of the UK’s foremost climate denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). In March, she urged the UK to “ditch” its net zero targets and “use whatever resources we have under our feet”. 

Jenkyns’ damehood will further boost the credentials of the GWPF, which already has a large contingent  in the House of Lords including GWPF director David Frost, GWPF advisor Matt Ridley, former trustees Charles Moore and Peter Lilley, former trustees Andrew Turnbull, Emma Nicholson, and funders Nigel Vinson and Richard Cavendish. 

Rees-Mogg – who is set to receive a knighthood – has a long record of opposing climate action. In 2014 he claimed that efforts to limit global warming “would have no effect for hundreds or possibly a thousand years” and in 2013 he blamed high energy prices on “climate alarmism.” 

Last month, at a conference on “National Conservatism”, Rees-Mogg said: “We must look at whether Net Zero by 2050 is feasible. Ultimately, ultimately, nobody gets elected on making voters cold and poor.”

Rees-Mogg is a host on broadcaster GB News. Last month DeSmog revealed one in three GB News presenters cast doubt on climate science in 2022.

A recent DeSmog investigation found that Jacob Rees-Mogg had spoken of his desire for people to “stop demonising oil and gas” in a meeting with the United Arab Emirates’ state investment firm while business secretary under then-Prime Minister Liz Truss

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is known for her hostility towards climate protestors, in 2022 accused Extinction Rebellion activists of “hooliganism and thuggery”.. 

Patel is a prominent ally and supporter of lobby group FairFuelUK and sits on its All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of the same name. FairFuelUK is funded by the haulage industry, and its director Howard Cox is a climate science denier. Last August, Cox said: “I am now even more convinced man is not responsible for global warming.”

Patel also has a long association with organizations in the influential set of libertarian think tanks and campaign groups known as the Tufton Street network. It includes the  Taxpayers’ Alliance and Centre for Policy Studies, which have both opposed climate policies.

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has aired anti-climate views on Twitter. In 2014 he wrote that it was “undeniably true” that “unthinking climate change worship has damaged British industry and put up consumer bills”. 

Fabricant supported Johnson’s green push during the UK’s presidency of the COP26 climate summit. But last June on GB News he said Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant he “personally would like to see a little bit less emphasis now on the zero green policies”, adding on Twitter: “it’s time to rethink green taxes”. 

Ahead of COP26 Fabricant also appeared on a GB News segment on the question of a net zero referendum. In it, he questioned the virtue of  decarbonisation, asking: “what is the point of doing it if we bankrupt ourselves and find that others are not joining in too?”. 

Johnson’s honours list also includes a seat in the House of Lords for Shaun Bailey. The former Conservative candidate for mayor of London ran in 2021 on a promise to scrap a proposed expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a clean air initiative launched by Mayor Sadiq Khan, which has drawn attacks from many anti-climate groups. 

Fossil Fuel Lobbyists

Johnson’s former deputy chief of staff, David Canzini, will also receive an OBE. Until 2022 Cazini worked as a director of the lobbying firm CT Group, which was set up and run by Australian political lobbyist Sir Lynton Crosby, who ran Johnson’s 2008 mayoral campaign. 

CT Group offers advice to oil and gas companies, and its clients have included the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and BHP, which has mining and oil assets. The firm also orchestrated a PR campaign for coal company Glencore in 2019. 

In early 2022, Canzini reportedly influenced the UK government’s opposition to a windfall tax and to the development of onshore wind power. “The public deserve to know if Lynton Crosby is lobbying Boris Johnson on behalf of gas and oil fat cats,” Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said at the time. 

Last month environmental groups raised concerns over the secondment of Canzini to work on communications at the upcoming UN COP28 climate summit in the UAE,  given his links to CT Group’s pro-oil and gas lobbying. 

William Warr, former health advisor to Boris Johnson between 2019 and 2022, who  worked as a campaign strategist for Lynton Crosby, will be receiving an OBE for “political and public service”. 

Samantha Cohen, Johnson’s chief of staff and director of the Prime Minister’s office between April and September 2022, is also set to receive an OBE. Cohen is currently chief of staff at Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining giant which has been embroiled in various scandals over its operations, including the destruction of a site of historical indigenous importance in Western Australia, and a failure to bring its lobbying activities in line with its own climate targets.

Sunak has yet to approve his immediate predecessor Liz Truss’s resignation honours list, which is reported to include Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank, which has called for the UK’s net zero target to be scrapped, and received funding from BP every year from 1967 to at least 2018.

The members of Johnson’s honours list named in this story were contacted for comment. 

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Joey Grostern is a climate reporter and researcher at DeSmog since April 2023. His work focuses on news media and has been covered by The Guardian, The Intercept, and The Nation. He also works freelance for Deutsche Welle in Berlin.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
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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