DeSmog

Polluter Funded Reform Party Backs Oil and Gas Expansion in Manifesto

One expert called Nigel Farage’s policies a contract to “bankrupt Britain and condemn future generations to climate catastrophe”.
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 UK, which is funded by climate science deniers and fossil fuel interests, has launched its manifesto with a pledge to expand oil and gas exploration and open new coal mines.

The document repeats the party’s policy to “scrap net zero”, the UK’s legally-binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It says Reform would “fast-track licences of North Sea gas and oil” and introduce two-year “test sites” for the controversial practice of fracking for shale gas, followed by “major production when safety is proven”. 

It says Reform would “increase and incentivise UK lithium mining for electric batteries, combined cycle gas turbines, clean synthetic fuel and clean coal mining”.

Coal emits the most carbon dioxide (CO2) of any fossil fuel. The world’s foremost climate science body, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has stated that stated that carbon dioxide “is responsible for most of global warming” since the late 19th century, which has increased the “severity and frequency of weather and climate extremes, like heat waves, heavy rains, and drought”.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that any new fossil fuel projects would be incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. 

Earlier this month, DeSmog revealed that Reform had received more than £2.3 million from oil and gas interests, highly polluting industries, and climate science deniers since December 2019 – amounting to 92 percent of the party’s donations during that period. 

Reform’s manifesto also says it would impose billions of pounds’ worth of taxes on renewable energy, claiming that renewables have increased energy bills. The party says that scrapping net zero would save the UK £30 billion a year – a claim that contradicts the views of scientists and economists. 

The Climate Change Committee, which advises the government on its net zero policies, has estimated that the cost of achieving net zero will be less than 1 percent of the UK’s annual economic output. The government independent spending watchdog – the Office for Budget Responsibility – has said that, “the costs of failing to get climate change under control would be much larger than those of bringing emissions down to net zero”.

Ed Matthew, campaigns director at the energy think tank E3G, said: “Nigel Farage’s pitch to obliterate net zero investment would damage the UK’s economic recovery and keep UK households hooked on high-cost gas.

“Net zero is the economic opportunity of the century. Farage is a climate change denier, in the pocket of fossil fuel vested interests, and he has presented a ‘contract’ to bankrupt Britain and condemn future generations to climate catastrophe.”

Dirty Donors

Reform has received a fortune from wealthy donors who either deny climate science or have interests in polluting industries. 

Since 2019, Reform has received more than £1.1 million in donations from Richard Tice, the party’s former leader and current chairman, plus more than 50 loans collectively worth around £1.4 million from a Tice-owned company called Tisun Investments.

Tice is one of the UK’s most prominent climate science deniers, using his presenting role on the right-wing broadcaster GB News to attack net zero policies and the science behind them. Tice has claimed that “there is no climate crisis” and expressed the view that “CO2 isn’t a poison. It’s plant food”.

Reform has received more than £500,000 since the last general election from Jeremy Hosking, whose investment firm Hosking Partners had more than $134 million (around £108 million) invested in the energy sector at the close of 2021, two thirds of which was in the oil industry, along with millions in coal and gas. 

Hosking previously told DeSmog: “I do not have millions in fossil fuels; it is the clients of Hosking Partners who are the beneficiaries of these investments.”

Farage also has a history of denying the science of climate change and attacking green policies. Speaking on GB News in August 2021, he said that he was “very much an environmentalist” and that he couldn’t “abide things like plastics in our seas, pollution in our rivers.” However, on the issue of climate change, he added: “What annoys me though, is this complete obsession with carbon dioxide almost to the exclusion of everything else, the alarmism that comes with it, based on dodgy predictions and science.”

The IPCC has stated that it is “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”.

Reform has also received £200,000 from First Corporate Consultants, a firm owned by Terence Mordaunt, a director and former chair of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s leading climate science denial group. 

‘Problematic’ Policies

Reform’s previous manifesto, which was on the party’s website as of last week, said the government’s windfall tax on oil and gas companies should be “scrapped”. It is not clear whether this is still Reform policy, as it does not appear in the new manifesto.

“Everyone can see that the oil and gas companies have raked in billions in profits since the start of the energy crisis and that it is the soaring price of gas – and our high dependency on it – that lies at the root of our high energy bills”, said Tessa Khan, executive director of environmental campaign group Uplift.

She added: “Our energy system is broken, but the only way to fix it is to phase out gas, not double down on new drilling, while scrapping support for insulation and renewables, as Reform is proposing.”

Analysis by the independent research group, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), today called the numbers in Reform’s manifesto “problematic”, adding: “Spending reductions would save less than stated, and the tax cuts would cost more than stated, by a margin of tens of billions of pounds per year.”

In May, a Reform spokesperson told DeSmog: “Climate change is real, Reform UK believes we must adapt, rather than foolishly think you can stop it. 

“We are proud to be the only party to understand that economic growth depends on cheap domestic energy and we are proud that we are the only party that are climate science realists, realising you can not stop the power of the sun, volcanoes or sea level oscillation.”

In May, DeSmog revealed that the Conservative Party had received £8.4 million from fossil fuel interests, highly polluting industries, and climate science deniers since the 2019 election. The party received an additional £225,000 from fossil fuel interests during the first week of the 2024 campaign – equivalent to 40 percent of its funding during this period.

An investigation last week mapped the Conservatives’ ties to a network of climate denial and fossil fuel interests, and the party last week launched its manifesto by promising to issue more oil and gas licences. 

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

Fossil fuel interests are deploying unprecedented strategies to hide evidence of companies’ deception and block liability lawsuits before they reach trial.

Fossil fuel interests are deploying unprecedented strategies to hide evidence of companies’ deception and block liability lawsuits before they reach trial.
on

Federal lawsuit alleges EPA’s rules on ethylene oxide and chloroprene emissions rely on weak industry estimates rather than real-world data on risks to health.

Federal lawsuit alleges EPA’s rules on ethylene oxide and chloroprene emissions rely on weak industry estimates rather than real-world data on risks to health.
on

The host committee for the Republican National Convention names the Canadian pipeline company as a 'partner' on its website.

The host committee for the Republican National Convention names the Canadian pipeline company as a 'partner' on its website.
on

Shell is the latest oil giant to delete claims after an anti-greenwashing law passed in Parliament.

Shell is the latest oil giant to delete claims after an anti-greenwashing law passed in Parliament.