DeSmog

Climate Science Denial Looms Large in GB News Linked ‘ARC’ Venture

UK MPs and peers join Jordan Peterson and other climate science critics at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship.
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GB News's live studio at the 2021 Conservative Party Conference. Credit: Matt Crossick / Alamy

“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”. This Martin Luther King quote was used by Conservative peer Baroness Stroud to introduce the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), which launched in March. 

Set up by the owners of GB News and involving “senior leaders from politics, media, culture, business, and academia”, ARC claims that it will address the six “fundamental issues of our time”, including “energy and resources” and “environmental stewardship”. 

In reality, ARC appears to be the latest attempt by national populist forces to shape culture and politics. 

And as climate change has been swallowed up by the “culture wars”, ARC’s advisors include some of the world’s leading opponents of climate action.

In her launch blog, Baroness Stroud gives an indication of where the alliance stands on climate change.

She states that “we risk driving policy interventions to address environmental concerns without having an honest conversation about the trade-offs for the poor at home or in developing and emerging nations”.

The notion that green reforms unduly punish the poor is a common refrain among those who oppose climate action. 

In reality, poor and indigenous groups in developing countries will be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, while those suffering from poverty at home have seen their energy bills soar as successive governments have failed to implement green reforms. 

And ARC’s anti-green credentials are further exposed by the makeup of its key members. The alliance’s political ties are extensive, with its advisory board featuring a number of prominent politicians from the UK and abroad, as are its ties to climate science critics.

ARC is hosting a major event at the O2 Arena in London in November, headlined by psychologist Jordan Peterson, which it claims will play host to “more than a thousand high level leaders from politics, culture, business and academia”.

Peterson has regularly posted about “climate apocalypse insanity” and “eco fascists” to his millions of online followers, while claiming in a Telegraph article last October that “eco-extremists are leading the world towards despair, poverty, and starvation”.

Peterson has played a key role in amplifying fringe climate crisis deniers to millions of people via his YouTube channel, according to a new DeSmog analysis.

Peterson is joined on the ARC advisory board by Tony Abbott, a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) the UK’s principal climate science denial group, the writers Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, both of whom have written books downplaying the threats posed by climate change, and Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, who recently claimed that the green agenda is a “hoax”.

In August, a Telegraph opinion piece by Peterson and Lomborg touted the launch of ARC and its focus on opposing climate “alarmism”. 

The article echoed Baroness Stroud’s claims about the costs of environmentalism, suggesting that achieving net zero will “cost far beyond $100 trillion” and stating that “we need… to ensure that the cure is not much worse than the disease”.

The UK’s Climate Change Committee, which advises the government on measures to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, estimates that the combined policies will cost less than 1 percent of GDP.

DeSmog did not receive a response from ARC or any of the other individuals and organisations approached for comment. 

ARC’s UK Architects

ARC has extensive ties to UK politicians and media figures, notably sharing the same owners as startup broadcaster GB News. 

According to Companies House, the same five individuals who own GB News’s parent company are also the people with significant control of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship Limited: Sir Paul Marshall, Alan McCormick, Richard Douglas, Mark Stoleson, and Christopher Chandler.

McCormick, Chandler, and Stoleson are all executives at Legatum Group, the Dubai-based investment fund that, alongside Marshall, is a principal financial backer of GB News. 

Hedge fund founder Sir Paul Marshall is joined on the ARC advisory board – which has 44 members – by his son Winston, former banjo player in the band Mumford and Sons and a podcaster for the Spectator, a conservative magazine.

Tory peer Baroness Morrissey, one of the directors of GB News’s parent company, is also an ARC adviser, as is ex-GB News presenter Colin Brazier. 

GB News has been a prominent opponent of climate action since it launched in June 2021. A DeSmog investigation in May revealed that one in three GB News hosts spread climate science denial on air in 2022, while half attacked climate policies.

GB News presenters claimed that net zero will cause “death by poverty and starvation”, that the policy “poses an existential threat to the free world”, and called for the UK to “drill, baby, drill” for more fossil fuels. 

Baroness Bennett, a Green Party member of the House of Lords, said that ARC’s launch was a reminder of the threat from groups defending vested energy interests.

“There will always be people who benefit greatly from the status quo, who’ll seek to defend it to the bitter end,” she said.

ARC’s CEO, Tory peer Baroness Stroud, formerly served as the CEO of the Legatum Institute think tank, which has been described by the Financial Times as the “intellectual heart” of a “hard” Brexit. 

The institute, founded by the Legatum Group in 2007, received $77,000 in 2018 from the Charles Koch Foundation, linked to the CEO of the US-based Koch Industries fossil fuel dynasty.

ARC advisory board member and Conservative MP Danny Kruger worked as a senior advisor at the Legatum Institute from 2017 to 2018.

In early August, Kruger used his role on Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee to urge the Bank of England to investigate the “influence Greenpeace and other extreme climate activist groups may have over employees of the Bank”. 

His statement followed a report that Labour Party candidate Alistair Stratham, who is climate lead at the Bank of England, took part in a Greenpeace demonstration last year.

Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge Miriam Cates, considered a rising star in the party, is also an ARC adviser. In May, both Cates and Kruger spoke at the National Conservatism Conference in London, which featured several climate science deniers. Cates used her speech to suggest that “epidemic levels of anxiety and confusion” are being caused by teaching children that “humanity is killing the Earth”.

Cates and Kruger are joined on the ARC advisory board by Labour peer Maurice Glasman. 

Writer Douglas Murray will be speaking at ARC’s event at the O2, following on from his appearance at the National Conservatism Conference in May. Murray has suggested that climate policies will “impoverish” Brits, and has argued that “terrifying our children with doom-mongering propaganda on climate change is nothing less than abuse”. 

“This Conservative government continues to push the environment and climate change to the back of the queue,” said Wera Hobhouse MP, energy and climate spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, “so it is hardly surprising we are seeing more groups linked to climate denial being given a platform”.

Media Influence 

ARC also has a number of international advisers who are leading media critics of climate action.

Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish writer with a PhD in political science, is an ARC adviser and has regularly downplayed the threat posed by climate change. 

In an article for the Wall Street Journal last month titled “Climate change hasn’t set the world on fire”, Lomborg cited a decline in the scope of wildfires worldwide since 2001 – despite rising temperatures making wildfires more likely and more destructive, according to experts. 

In 2020, Lomborg published a book entitled “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet”, following on from his 1998 text, “The Skeptical Environmentalist”.

Lomborg is speaking alongside Peterson at ARC’s O2 event and has co-written articles with him for the Telegraph. One published during the COP27 climate summit in October described current climate policies as “insane”.

This year, the world experienced its hottest July on record, with climate change fueling extreme weather events. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate science body, has warned of the spread of climate misinformation which “undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency” of cutting emissions. 

Also on the ARC board is Michael Shellenberger, a US author who has downplayed the climate crisis via his think tank Environmental Progress and his 2020 book “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All”.

In a 2020 cover piece for Forbes, which was later retracted by the magazine, Shellenberger apologised “on behalf of environmentalists everywhere” for what he called “the climate scare”, and claimed that “climate change is not making natural disasters worse”. 

The IPCC says it is an “established fact” that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have “led to an increased frequency and/or intensity of some weather and climate extremes since pre-industrial times”.

In a 2021 piece for UnHerd, an online outlet owned by ARC and GB News director Sir Paul Marshall, Shellenberger wrote that “no global problem has ever been more exaggerated than climate change”. He argued that economic growth would help humans adapt to 4C of global warming, and added: “Why kill ourselves trying to eliminate a problem that just isn’t that severe?”

Peterson, Lomborg, and Shellenberger have all been interviewed by Winston Marshall for his Spectator podcast. In January, Lomborg was interviewed about his book “False Alarm” in a segment headlined “Climate Change Alarmism and the True Cost of Net Zero”. Winston interviewed Shellenberger in November about international efforts to tackle climate change. 

International Scope

ARC also brings together a number of politicians from across the wider Anglosphere who have led the charge against climate action. 

ARC’s advisory board includes former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who has been a trustee at the GWPF since February. Abbott has previously said that “climate change is probably doing good” and is a long-standing advocate for coal power, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

Fellow ex-Australian prime minister John Howard, who sits on the ARC board, told Sky News in March that he was “increasingly sceptic [sic]” about climate policies, adding that Australia should “continue to benefit” from coal and gas.  

Andrew Hastie, an MP for Australia’s Liberal Party and its shadow defence minister, is also on the ARC advisory board. Hastie argued against green policies in a speech last year, labelling as “green virtue signalling” the country’s Climate Change Act, which established targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The ARC board likewise features US politicians who have opposed green reforms and are linked to the fossil fuel industry. 

Republican presidential contender and ARC adviser Vivek Ramaswamy used a debate on 23 August to claim that “the climate change agenda is a hoax”.

Fellow ARC adviser Mike Lee, a Republican Party senator for Utah, was one of 22 senators who signed a letter in 2017 urging President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

In a 2019 interview, Lee criticised the Democrat-led Green New Deal proposal, which advocated for action to divest from fossil fuels and create green energy jobs. Lee argued that “the solution to climate change” is for people to “fall in love, get married and have some kids”. 

“Problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, they’re solved by more humans,” he said.

Another ARC adviser, Mike Johnson, a Republican congressman for Louisiana, called the Paris Agreement “a terrible deal for the United States” and supported leaving it. He went on to say that climate change was part of a normal cycle, adding: “we don’t need the UN dictating to us how to be responsible stewards of what God has given us”. 

In October, Johnson was a guest on Jordan Peterson’s podcast, where they discussed “the trumped up climate crisis”. 

Dan Crenshaw, a Republican congressman for Texas who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is also an ARC adviser. Last year he wrote that the US should “fight back against the [climate] alarmism with tangible solutions based on reason, science, and the free market”. 

Crenshaw received a total of $8,500 from Koch-linked political funding groups for his 2018 and 2020 congressional campaigns, according to SourceWatch. 

Arthur C. Brooks, who sits on the ARC advisory board, is a former president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a US-based conservative think tank that has received millions from oil giant ExxonMobil and the Charles Koch Foundation.

ARC’s board also features Leslyn Lewis, a former Conservative Party member of the Canadian Parliament, who ran for her party’s leadership in 2022 claiming net zero was “destroying our country”. 

Lewis has claimed that the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international corporate and non-governmental alliance, is “[dictating] climate change policies that impoverish citizens while not reducing emissions”.

The WEF, which is the subject of many conspiracy theories, can advise governments but has no statutory or regulatory powers to enforce policies.

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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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.

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