Government’s New Low Pay Advisor Heads Climate Denial Network

Tory peer Philippa Stroud, who has close ties to the funders of GB News, has been elevated to a senior advisory role by the government.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
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Philippa Stroud, chair of the government's Low Pay Commission, and CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. Credit: ARC (CC0 1.0 DEED)

A new government advisor on the minimum wage is the head of an international network of climate crisis deniers funded by the owners of GB News, DeSmog can reveal.

Philippa Stroud was appointed chair of the Low Pay Commission, a body reporting to Kemi Badenoch’s Department of Business and Trade, on 30 January. The government-appointed role pays £530 per day for three days of work per month (£19,114 per year).

The Conservative peer is the CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), a new pressure group that shares its funders with GB News and is linked to some of the world’s most prominent climate crisis deniers, including psychologist Jordan Peterson. Stroud has been described by The Telegraph as “the most powerful right-winger you’ve never heard of”.

The appointment comes as senior Conservative Party figures continue to embrace anti-climate politics. On 6 February, former prime minister Liz Truss attacked “net zero zealots” at the launch of her new Popular Conservatism faction. 

Last month, Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Clare Coutinho met with and praised fuel pricing lobbyist Howard Cox, a Reform UK candidate who wants to “scrap net zero” and claims that “man is not responsible for global warming”.

The government is also pushing ahead with legislation that would require the awarding of annual North Sea oil and gas licences. The Climate Change Committee, the independent body that advises the government on its net zero policies, warned on 30 January that mixed messages, including new fossil fuel projects, have damaged the UK’s international climate standing.

Last year was the first on record to see consistent global warming of 1.5C, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. 

DeSmog has previously revealed that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million in donations from fossil fuel interests and climate science deniers in 2022.

Stroud’s appointment also cements the relationship between the Conservative Party and GB News. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took part in an hour-long town hall event on GB News, following the example of several Conservative MPs who are regular guests and presenters on the right-wing broadcaster. 

Stroud’s ARC project is run by hedge fund manager Paul Marshall and the UAE-based Legatum Group, GB News’s principal backers. The Legatum Institute, a think tank funded by the Legatum Group, gave £50,000 to a faction of the Conservative Party in December. Before taking up her post at ARC, Stroud was CEO of the Legatum Institute. 

“Anti-science climate change denialism has become the secret handshake that ushers in the faithful and bars the door to unbelievers,” Jolyon Maugham, executive director of the Good Law Project, told DeSmog. “This is an appalling betrayal of the principles of sound government – and of our children who need us to be led by science and not by the financial interests of wealthy Tory donors.”

ARC, Stroud, the Legatum Group, and the Low Pay Commission were approached for comment. 

ARC and Legatum

Philippa Stroud was made a life peer by then prime minister David Cameron (now foreign secretary) in 2015, after failing to win a parliamentary seat in 2010. 

The Legatum Group, which has employed Stroud both directly and indirectly since 2016, is one of the largest shareholders in GB News, which frequently attacks climate science and policies. A DeSmog investigation found that one in three GB News hosts spread climate denial on air in 2022. 

GB News’s other major owner is British billionaire Paul Marshall, chairman and chief investment officer of the hedge fund Marshall Wace. DeSmog revealed that, as of June 2023, Marshall Wace owned shares worth $2.2 billion (£1.8 billion) in fossil fuel firms. This included a $213 million (£175.6 million) shareholding in the oil and gas supermajor Chevron, as well as stakes in Shell, Equinor, and 109 other fossil fuel companies. 

In her statement announcing the launch of ARC, Stroud took aim at climate policies, writing 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”.

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. 

ARC is fronted by Canadian author Jordan Peterson, who regularly posts about “climate apocalypse insanity” and “eco fascists” to his millions of online followers. Peterson has promoted fringe climate crisis deniers on his YouTube channel and, as revealed by DeSmog, plans to open a new online school also featuring several climate crisis deniers. 

ARC’s advisory board includes writers Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, both of whom have written books downplaying the threats posed by climate change, as well as Tony Abbott, the former prime minister of Australia and a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s principal climate science denial group. 

Late last year, speaking on the outskirts of ARC’s launch conference in London, Abbott claimed climate change has “nothing to do with mankind’s emissions”. ARC advisor Vivek Ramaswamy, who also spoke at the conference, has called climate change a “hoax” and has said that “real emergency isn’t climate change, it’s the man-made disaster of climate change policies that threaten US prosperity.”

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

Kemi Badenoch, whose department appointed Stroud to her new advisory role, also spoke at the ARC conference alongside Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. The pair were joined by a number of Conservative MPs. 

Stroud’s appointment to the government’s Low Pay Commission was first trailed by The Telegraph in December. A “Whitehall source” told the paper that Stroud was selected for the three-year post to block a possible left-wing appointment by a Labour government.

Carla Denyer, Green Party co-leader and its parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central said that Stroud’s appointment was “hardly the most appropriate” and that “the Conservatives seem set on placing their people across the quango world before the general election.”

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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