DeSmog

Reform UK Leader Nigel Farage Spreads Climate Denial with Conspiracy Groups in Clacton-on-Sea

Interviewed at a bikers cafe, Farage said the UK’s legally binding commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions would “make absolutely almost no difference whatsoever”.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
on
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was interviewed by Together Declaration leader Alan D.Miller at a bikers cafe on June 15. Credit: YouTube screenshot

Nigel Farage has attacked “the net zero agenda” at a campaign event with two climate science denial groups in Clacton-on-Sea, where he is standing for parliament in tomorrow’s (4 July) general election. 

The Reform UK leader made the comments at a meeting organised by the Together Declaration, an anti-Covid vaccine group which campaigns against the UK’s net zero targets, and the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), which has claimed climate policies are based on an “eco-fraud”. Both groups have publicly backed Reform’s election platform. 

In an interview at the Revved Up bikers cafe in Walton-on-the-Naze, posted on social media on June 15, Farage said of net zero: “The whole thing is about charging us money. The whole thing is about controlling our life and our behaviours. And in terms of the environment it makes absolutely almost no difference whatsoever.”

Farage also met with John Mappin on the campaign trail this month. Mappin, a wealthy hotelier who promotes climate denial, believes in the QAnon conspiracy theory, and has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “gift for the freedom of the world”. Mappin, who has claimed to be canvassing for Farage in Clacton, held a rally for Reform in Cornwall this weekend, which featured a video message from Farage, according to the Daily Mail.  

Reform UK is polling at 16 percent and presenting itself as a serious challenge to the Conservative Party, but its campaign has been dogged by racist statements by candidates and activists, prompting two Reform candidates to quit and endorse the Tories. 

Reform is running on an overtly anti-climate platform, calling for the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target to be scrapped and pledging more fossil fuel extraction, including new coal mines. The party has promoted ”old school” climate denial in mainstream media outlets during the election campaign. This week, The Guardian reported that at least 30 Reform candidates have cast doubt on man-made global warming. 

In a BBC interview on June 14, Farage said “we’ve had climate change for millions of years.” When told “not at this rapidity”, he replied: “How do we know? Our scientific knowledge of this is very small.” 

Climate scientists have concluded that global heating since the industrial revolution is “unparalleled”. The UN’s IPCC has stated that it is “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”. 

As DeSmog has reported, parts of Clacton are at risk of annual flooding by 2030, according to mapping by the science-based visualisation platform Climate Central. 

Reform has 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. 

Together and MAG

The Together Declaration was founded in August 2021 by businessman Alan D. Miller to oppose government measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including lockdowns and vaccines, but has increasingly attacked green policies.

Together runs a “no to net zero” campaign, which claims that decarbonisation policies are based on “wildly exaggerated fears about the future”, and that giving up fossil fuels will make people “poorer, hungrier and colder”. 

In a video of the interview, posted on YouTube and Facebook, Miller interviews Farage alongside members of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) – one of the UK’s largest motorcyclist associations – including Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement.

The event in Clacton was promoted on Facebook as organised by both groups, with a message that “This will be a live event & opportunity to make voices heard about Personal Transport. Will candidates address Net Zero & other issues?”. 

MAG has campaigned against policies to tackle air pollution like ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ) and government plans to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles, which does not currently apply to motorcycles.  

As DeSmog revealed last year, MAG runs a campaign called “Operation Earthquake”, which it says is designed “to stop dangerous changes to transport policy based on the eco-fraud”. Campaign material sent to its members states that MAG “reject[s] claims there’s a human-caused climate crisis”. 

‘Controlling Our Life’

In the interview with Farage, Miller claimed that many bikers live in Clacton, and asked about the proposed petrol bike phasehout. 

“I’ve met Motorcycle Action Group many times over the years,” Farage replied, saying he had opposed “regulations on motorbikes” when he was a member of the European parliament. “You’d have thought with Brexit now we’re in control it would be less of a threat, but it’s not. And that’s because of the whole net zero agenda that’s being pursued.” 

“The whole thing is about charging us money”, he went on. “The whole thing is about controlling our life and our behaviours. And in terms of the environment it makes absolutely almost no difference whatsoever. Bikers want the freedom to ride their bikes and pursue their hobby without interference.” 

The claim that climate targets are a way for governments to make money and control people is a conspiracy theory which has been promoted by Together and MAG. Farage has promoted these ideas before. Last year in a video on X he warned about “climate lockdowns”, the baseless notion of a plan to impose Covid-style restrictions in the name of tackling climate change.

In the Together interview, Farage went on to dismiss the need for climate action, saying that “we [the UK] produce less than one percent of the world’s CO2”. He also attacked the Labour Party’s plans, calling its aim to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2030 impossible. 

He added: “I do worry that with a Labour government which we’re gonna get – I mean think about ULEZ, think about all the different things that have been done, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, etc. I suspect for bikers it’s going to be difficult under a Starmer government.” 

Backing Reform

Together has since backed Farage and Reform online, posting a video clip on X on 24 June of Farage’s remarks about net zero. On 21 June, Miller defended Farage in an X post, sharing a clip of an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, and commenting: “the point is well made re: Net Zero & ludicrous unrealistic flabbergasting costs that you never challenge”. 

A video clip posted on X last week (25 June) by Together features Clacton residents saying that they plan to vote for Reform. This week, Together posted a video of Lee Anderson, a former Conservative MP who defected to Reform earlier this year, campaigning in Ashfield. Anderson has repeatedly attacked climate action, saying the UK’s net zero policies “wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the earth’s atmosphere”.

On 21 June, MAG posted a blog on its website praising Reform’s manifesto as the first to receive a positive score in its manifesto “scorecard”. “The Reform UK document achieves a score of +1.2, thanks mainly to the party’s position on future sales of internal combustion vehicles”, the blog says. 

It then quotes Colin Brown, who was at the 14 June meeting: “We are delighted to see that there is one party with a net positive offering from a motorcycling perspective, but I should reiterate that MAG are apolitical.  We are simply providing information to help riders make their voting choice on 4th July.”

Despite Brown’s claim that MAG is apolitical, on 7 June its chairman Neil Liversidge posted on X: “Vote @reformparty_uk  The Tories are a total shitshow.” As previously reported by DeSmog, in December 2022, Liversidge posted on the same platform that “the so-called ‘climate crisis’ is all bullshit hyped up by people who want an excuse to control us”.

When DeSmog contacted MAG for comment, Liversidge replied by emailing a photo of the broadcaster and environmentalist David Attenborough, and a fake quote: “A motorbike produces 1 tonne of CO2 a year. Children produce 59 tonnes a year. Buy more bikes.”

Howard Cox, director of the FairFuelUK lobby group, and Reform’s candidate in Dover and Deal, has long campaigned with MAG and Together against ULEZ and LTNs. 

John Mappin and Reform 

On June 18, posts on X show Farage in Clacton meeting with John Mappin, an heir to the Mappin & Webb jewellery fortune, who runs the Camelot Castle hotel in Cornwall. Mappin has promoted a number of far-right, helping launch Turning Point UK, a student network inspired by a pro-Trump U.S. youth group, in 2019.   

Mappin has also used his online “Camelot TV” station to give a platform to several climate science deniers, including Piers Corbyn, Heritage Party leader David Kurten, and climate denial lobby group CAR26

In a video posted on X on 22 June, Mappin appears wearing a Reform rosette, and says he went door-knocking in Clacton, where he handed out 1,000 party leaflets. He likened Reform’s campaign to Donald Trump’s successful run for U.S. president in 2016, and suggested Farage could “win the election”. 

In another X post this week, Mappin said: “The Labour Party and the Conservative party locked you down, poisoned you with a toxic vaccine and involved us in an unwinnable war with Russia, which can quickly escalate into world war three.”   

Farage has faced criticism during the election campaign for claiming the west provoked Russia to invade Ukraine. Last week DeSmog revealed that a major Reform donor has assets in Russia. 

Mappin and Farage worked together on investing in  Dutch Green Business (DGB), a carbon offset consultancy, in March 2021, according to the Financial Times, though both have since cut ties with the company. 

Reform UK, Together Declaration, and John Mappin did not respond when contacted for comment. 

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.