A Republican presidential candidate who has referred to climate change as a “hoax” is headlining the inaugural event for a new global organization created by conservative influencer Jordan Peterson.
Vivek Ramaswamy will be one of the marquee speakers at the inaugural meeting of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), also known as the ARC Conference, an event being held in London, England, from October 30 to November 1.
Peterson and other organizers are billing it as a “major gathering of political, business, and cultural leaders” whose guest list includes “over 100 parliamentarians from across Europe, the UK, and Australia, as well as a delegation of Congressional leaders from the USA.”
Discussion topics for the conference include “free enterprise,” “affordable energy,” and “environmental stewardship,” issues on which Ramaswamy has espoused hard-right views. He said during the first GOP debate in September that “the climate change agenda is a hoax,” claiming that “the reality is the anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy.” He recently tweeted to his 1.3 million followers on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the “real emergency isn’t climate change, it’s the man-made disaster of climate change policies that threaten U.S. prosperity.”
His plan for America should he win the Republican nomination is to “drill, frack & burn coal” and “abandon the climate cult & unshackle nuclear energy.”
Ramaswamy will be joined at the ARC Conference by other climate crisis deniers such as Michael Shellenberger, Bjorn Lomborg, former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and Peterson himself, who’s called climate change “the idiot socialist get-out-of-jail-free-card.” Over the past year, Peterson has devoted numerous episodes of his podcast, which has 7.51 million YouTube subscribers, to disputing that human-induced global temperature rise is an emergency, generating millions of views for deniers such as Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen.
The invite-only event in London is being supported by founders and leaders of the Legatum Group, a Dubai-based investment firm that’s a major investor in the conservative British television network GB News and also a backer of a pro-Brexit think tank known as The Legatum Institute.
“It’s obviously pretty alarming and dangerous,” Erika Seiber, a spokesperson at the nonprofit Friends of the Earth and member of a global coalition called Climate Action Against Disinformation, said of the upcoming ARC Conference. “It’s an attempt by the far-right to advance a fossil fuel agenda under the veil of conservative moral sentiment. They’re trying to gather support…for policies that will legitimately hurt people and the planet.”
Ramaswamy didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions from DeSmog.
He is a venture capitalist billionaire who rose to political prominence after writing the book Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam, and leading campaigns against the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement, which is an attempt by companies to account for metrics beyond pure profit-making in their business strategies.
In recent months he’s taken aim at the actual science of climate change, posting on X in late August that “40 years ago they told us an ice age was imminent. Now they tell us that the global warming is an existential threat to humanity. Which is it?”
He’s argued that carbon dioxide emissions can have positive impacts for the planet because they’re leading to more plant food, arguing this is a fact “that you’ll never hear from the climate cult.” Actual climate scientists such as Texas A&M University atmospheric sciences professor Andrew Dessler counter that this argument is “designed to cast doubt on the seriousness of the impacts of climate change.”
While carbon dioxide in general can stimulate plant growth, Dessler points out in a post fact-checking Ramaswamy’s claims that climate change is destabilizing many of the natural systems agriculture depends on, posing grave threats to many food-producing regions.
Though the arguments of Ramaswamy and other climate crisis deniers appearing at the ARC Conference can be easily debunked by scientists, they’re having a real political impact in regions attempting to shift away from fossil fuels, Seiber said.
The U.S. is in the process of directing billions, if not trillions, of dollars towards greener alternatives to coal, oil and gas as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, but these efforts are running into a growing backlash against renewable energy premised on the idea that climate change isn’t a serious crisis.
This is also happening internationally. A conservative organization fighting wind power in Alberta, Canada, recently told DeSmog that “carbon dioxide is the gas of life. More carbon dioxide on the planet, makes for a warmer planet, makes for better [food] growing conditions.”
“I think Vivek Ramaswamy is a pretty tried and true example of why climate denial actually matters,” Seiber said. “We’re seeing it with this uphill battle at the local level that we’re facing with the implementation of climate legislation.”