DeSmog

Nigel Farage’s Reform Party Took £135,000 from Climate Science Deniers and Fossil Fuel Interests

All of the anti-net zero party’s funders in 2023 have oil and gas investments or ties to climate science denial.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
on
Nigel Farage, Reform UK's leader. Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA-ND 2.0)

Nigel Farage’s Reform party received £135,000 this year from donors linked to climate science denial and fossil fuels, DeSmog can reveal.

Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, is a vocal critic of climate action, and last year called for a referendum on the UK’s net zero policies. 

The party has pledged to accelerate oil and gas drilling, start fracking for shale gas, end subsidies for renewables, and scrap the windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Reform UK’s leader Richard Tice and its honorary president Farage – who is currently a contestant on the new series of reality TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ – are both presenters on GB News, where they regularly attack climate policies. Earlier this year, Tice claimed “there is no climate crisis”. 

The anti-climate stance of Tice and Farage is reflected in the interests of the party’s donors. Latest official records show that all donations made to Reform UK so far this year are from individuals with ties to climate science denial or fossil fuel interests.

This marks a significant change from 2022, when the party’s only donation was £20,000 from Tice’s company ‘Britain Means Business’, but 2023 is still well below its peak of £2 million as the Brexit Party in the election year of 2019. 

Donors registered this year include: a firm owned by Terence Mordaunt, a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s leading climate science denial group; political donor Jeremy Hosking, who has millions invested in fossil fuels; and a property investment firm whose chairman has defended those who question whether “global warming is happening”. 

The revelations come after DeSmog reported that hedge fund founder Paul Marshall, co-owner of GB News – which has both Farage and Tice on its payroll – has £1.8 billion invested in fossil fuels.  

Richard Wilson, director of the Stop Funding Heat campaign, said the latest donations showed opponents of climate action using conservative media platforms to push their agenda. 

“Next time you hear GB News lashing out at net zero or denouncing ‘climate alarmism’, it’s worth remembering how many links they have to the fossil fuel industry”, he said.

“Now it emerges that two of their leading presenters run an organisation bankrolled by fossil fuel shareholders and climate science deniers.”

Reform UK has no representatives in Parliament but its supporters have grown this year, when it picked up more votes than Labour in the Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth by-elections on October 19. 

When contacted about the donations, Richard Tice accused DeSmog of “childish slurs”, and referred to a poll commissioned by GB News, which found 11 percent of the UK’s voters support the party. National polls put that support at eight percent.

“As you can see we are now rising in the polls,” he said in an emailed comment. “As more people hear about us, so more people want to vote for us to save Britain, amongst other things by scrapping the catastrophic, job-destroying net zero.” 

GB News was approached for comment.

Terence Mordaunt and GWPF

Reform UK styles itself as an independent anti-elitist party. However, its donors include a wealthy businessman on the board of an opaquely funded climate science denial group. 

According to the Electoral Commission register, in June, Reform UK received £100,000 from First Corporate Consultants Ltd. The company is owned by Terence Mordaunt, a major Conservative Party donor.

Mordunat is a director at the Global Warming Policy Foundation and served as its chair from April 2017 to November 2019.

The GWPF was set up by the late Nigel Lawson, a former chancellor of the exchequer, in 2009, and has consistently spread climate science denial. A report by the group out in June described 2022, the UK’s hottest year on record, as “a warm year, but unalarming”.

Mordaunt’s other company, Bristol Port Company, claims to handle 27 percent of all UK aviation fuel imports and the import and export of 550,000 motor vehicles every year. 

​​Transport is the single biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, making up 26 percent of all CO2 pollution in 2021.

Reform UK has made transport a pillar of its political campaigning, claiming there is a “war on drivers” being waged via anti-pollution and low-traffic schemes. The party’s candidate for London Mayor, Howard Cox, is an anti-fuel duty lobbyist, who is funded by the haulage industry. He is running on a pledge to ditch the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) and low-traffic schemes.

Mordaunt sits on the GWPF board alongside high-profile directors, including former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who earlier this month said climate change has “nothing to do with mankind’s emissions”, and Conservative peer David Frost, who in July said global warming was “likely to be beneficial”.

Mordaunt has also donated to the Conservative party. He funded the campaigns of 2022 Conservative leadership hopefuls Suella Braverman – who vowed to “suspend” the UK’s 2050 net zero target – and Penny Mordaunt, with £10,000 given to each candidate. It is not known whether Penny, who is leader of the House of Commons, is related to Terence Mordaunt. 

The Tory party received £3.5 million from polluters, fossil fuel interests and climate deniers in 2022, DeSmog revealed earlier this year. In 2016, Mordaunt’s Bristol Port Company donated £100,000 to the official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave. 

Mordaunt did not respond when contacted for comment. 

Panther Securities

The electoral register shows a further £20,000 from Panther Securities PLC, a property investment company. Its chairman, former UKIP donor Andrew Perloff, has blamed rising inflation on climate policies, and defended those who question whether “global warming is happening”.  

In an interim report for the company published in June, in a column titled “chairman’s ramblings”, Perloff wrote: “Whilst they [scientists], of course, could be correct that global warming is happening, I feel it is worrying that those with different opinions are often prevented from presenting them for consideration.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s body on climate science, has said it is “unequivocal” that human influence has caused “unprecedented” global warming. 

Perloff also claimed that inflation was higher in the UK than in the US because of the UK’s failure to use more fossil fuels. 

He wrote: “Our country’s inflation is about double that of the US. Why? I believe it is simple. They are keen on fracking and also maximise their oil and gas production to protect their own interests, whereas our government is hell bent on gesture politics ‘to save the world’.” 

The idea fracking would save households money is a common trope among proponents of shale gas and has been repeatedly debunked

His column attacked what he described as a “war on motorists”, and called for the UK government to abandon its climate policies, including “removing the heavy legislation and taxation on production of greenhouse gases”. 

Perloff also donated £25,000 to Reform UK in his own name ahead of the 2019 general election, according to the register. 

Perloff is a long-standing opponent of high taxes. In 2014, when a donor to Farage’s former party UKIP, he accused the Conservative government of a “continual financial attack on property ownership and the property industry”, and warned of a “creeping Marxism completely at odds with a forward looking successful free market economy”. 

Perloff and Panther Securities did not respond when contacted for comment. 

Jeremy Hosking 

The register also records another £15,000 from Jeremy Hosking, a financier and Conservative Party donor who in 2021 had millions invested in fossil fuels

According to a story last year by openDemocracy, Hosking’s investment firm Hosking Partners had more than $134 million (around £108 million) in the energy sector at the close of 2021, two thirds of which were in the oil industry, along with millions in coal and gas. 

Hosking declined to comment on funding Reform UK, but told DeSmog: “I do not have millions in fossil fuels; it is the clients of Hosking Partners who are the beneficiaries of these investments.”

Hosking gave Reform UK £500,000 in 2020, and over £1 million ahead of the 2019 general election when it was called the Brexit Party. To date Hosking has donated £1,578,000 to Reform UK. 

Hosking also owns The Critic magazine, a conservative monthly which regularly publishes criticism of net zero policies.

Updated on 30/04/24 to correct Jeremy Hosking’s 2019 donation from £2 million to £1 million.

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.

Related Posts

on

Supreme Court will decide if the suit can continue while plaintiffs say a dismissal would set a dangerous precedent preventing future climate litigation in Italy.

Supreme Court will decide if the suit can continue while plaintiffs say a dismissal would set a dangerous precedent preventing future climate litigation in Italy.
on

Sarah Jones ran a fundraising event with the help of a pro-hydrogen group backed by a major Tory donor.

Sarah Jones ran a fundraising event with the help of a pro-hydrogen group backed by a major Tory donor.
on

A new study finds levels of the carcinogen ethylene oxide that are nine times higher than those estimated by the EPA’s models.

A new study finds levels of the carcinogen ethylene oxide that are nine times higher than those estimated by the EPA’s models.
on

The oil sands lobby group deleted the contents of its site in anticipation of changes to the Competition Act.

The oil sands lobby group deleted the contents of its site in anticipation of changes to the Competition Act.