The Daily Telegraph has published weekly articles since 11 August by David Blackmon, a veteran of the oil and gas industry.
The articles have all been critical of current policies to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions and ensure the transition to renewable energy.
The idea of “an energy transition that will dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is a fantasy”, wrote Blackmon on 16 August.
In Blackmon’s piece published on 29 August, he defended the role of fossil fuel companies in climate talks at the forthcoming COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates, writing: “there is no solution to our emissions problem that is possible without active participation in it by the fossil fuel industries.”
When publishing his articles, the Telegraph did not inform readers that Blackmon is a “40 year veteran of the oil and gas industry”, according to his Substack, who has warned of a “climate scam” and spread conspiracy theories about plans for Covid-style climate lockdowns.
Blackmon hosts a podcast called “The Energy Question”, which is sponsored by the US Oil and Gas Association (USOGA), a lobby group that describes its mission as promoting “national public policy that supports exploration and production for the domestic oil and natural gas industry”.
After being contacted by DeSmog for comment, the Telegraph updated Blackmon’s biography on its website to note that he “had a 40 year career in the US energy industry, the last 23 years of which were spent in the public policy arena, managing regulatory and legislative issues for various companies. He continues to write and podcast on energy matters”.
The new bio does not disclose that Blackmon currently hosts a podcast sponsored by the USOGA.
In 2011, DeSmog revealed that FTI Consulting’s “Energy In Depth” campaign was launched on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a US oil and gas lobby group, to support fracking for shale gas, with funding from BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell and a firm later bought by ExxonMobil.
Before FTI Consulting, Blackmon was director for governmental affairs at El Paso E&P, a Texas-based onshore oil and natural gas exploration and production company. In 2015, Blackmon was hired by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to campaign against fracking regulations.
Blackmon’s presence in the Telegraph is the latest example of fossil fuel lobbyists and critics of climate science afforded a mainstream media platform in the UK.
In June, the BBC’s Today programme interviewed a supposedly impartial “energy consultant” Kathryn Porter, who had links to the gas sector and had cast doubt on human-made global warming. Porter also contributes to the Telegraph.
In July, DeSmog revealed how a gas boiler lobby group commissioned a public affairs firm to “spark outrage” about heat pumps – a more climate friendly alternative to gas heating – in a campaign that was featured across the media, including in the Telegraph.
And, last month, Private Eye reported that a campaign in the Sun newspaper to “protect drivers from a rush to net zero” was tied to haulage industry lobby group FairFuelUK and its allies in parliament.
“Commentary from Blackmon and his cohort is a desperate attempt to distract us from the consequences of burning fossil fuels, which we can now see with our own eyes,” said Tessa Khan, executive director of environmental non-profit Uplift.
“The oil and gas industry has for years spread disinformation to sway public debate and has lobbied governments to stop them acting on climate change.
“The problem it’s facing now is that people are directly experiencing the impact of that lobbying, from holidaymakers getting stranded by wildfires to ordinary people being unable to afford sky-rocketing energy bills.”
Blackmon did not respond to our request for comment.
Blackmon has also spread claims on social media that label measures to address climate change as a “scam”.
In June, Blackmon posted a paragraph on X (formerly known as Twitter), which quoted the climate science denial website WattsUpWithThat. The quote read: “Climate change is a huge swindle. It’s a method of extracting money out of the people’s pockets, and they are supposed to feel good about it”.
He added an additional quote from the article, which said that the results of climate action would be “worse than communist East Germany”.
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. The UK government’s failure to implement green reforms has added an estimated £2.5 billion to domestic energy bills due to the rising costs of fossil fuels and poor energy efficiency in homes.
In July, Blackmon shared a video on X from conspiracy theory outlet Wide Awake Media, which flagged comments from Nicole Schwab, a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) executive committee, on how the urgency of political action during the Covid pandemic should be applied to climate change.
According to Wide Awake Media, Schwab’s speech showed how the WEF – which is the subject of many conspiracy theories – was attempting to further its “Great Reset” agenda.
The Great Reset is a WEF initiative that has been used by conspiracy theorists to suggest that the organisation is “acting as a Machiavellian hidden hand, orchestrating Covid lockdowns and other public health measures in order to achieve their own sinister goals,” the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has reported.
Blackmon commented on the video and said: “Pay attention to what is coming as part of the #ClimateScam. This is a very open, frank discussion about the utility of societal lockdowns and other covid-like measure [sic] to address ‘climate change’”.
Schwab did not mention lockdowns, in the video shared by Wide Awake Media on X.
In relation to the WEF, Blackmon added: “If you don’t think these people would do this to you, then I don’t really know what else to say to you.”
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate science body, has warned that false and misleading information “undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency” of cutting emissions.