Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson


  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), History, Cambridge University. [1]


Owen Paterson is MP for North Shropshire and a former environment secretary. He was appointed to the role in 2012 but was sacked by then prime minister David Cameron for fear his view that climate change was not a serious problem would cost the Conservative party votes in the 2015 general election. [2], [3]

Paterson’s brother-in-law is Matt Ridley, a hereditary peer and advisor to the climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Paterson’s annual lecture to the GWPF in 2014 – in which he called for the UK to scrap the climate change act – was actually written by Ridley, it later emerged. [4], [5], [6], [7]

After being sacked from the cabinet, Paterson set up the pro-Brexit thinktank UK2020, which aimed to cut regulations and targets related to climate change and was dissolved in January 2020. [8], [9]

Paterson was one of three MPs to found the official Vote Leave campaign to take the UK out of the European Union, according to a speech he gave in 2017 to the Heritage Foundation, a US-based conservative think tank with a long history of climate science denial and opposition to climate policies. [29]

Paterson has close ties with other US free-market groups that have rejected mainstream climate science and lobbied against climate action, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute[16]

Stance on Climate Change

October 2014

In his lecture to the GWPF, later revealed to have been partly written by climate science denier Matt Ridley, Paterson said: [10]

I readily accept the main points of the greenhouse theory. Other things being equal, carbon dioxide emissions will produce some warming. The question always has been: how much? On that there is considerable uncertainty.

For, I also accept the unambiguous failure of the atmosphere to warm anything like as fast as predicted by the vast majority of climate models over the past 35 years, when measured by both satellites and surface thermometers. And indeed the failure of the atmosphere to warm at all over the past 18 years – according to some sources. Many policymakers have still to catch up with the facts.

I also note that the forecast effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated thus far.”

Key Quotes

April 25, 2016

Delivering a speech on “The Future of Europe” at a UK2020 event, Paterson concluded: [11]

“It is Remain that is the leap in the dark.

To vote Leave is the safe option.”

” […] I want to explain what Remain really means. And to assure those of you who are undecided, that to Leave really is the safe and benign option.”

October 2014

In his GWPF lecture[10]

We are the only country to have legally bound ourselves to the 2050 targets – and certainly the only one to bind ourselves to a doomed policy. In the absence of a legally binding international agreement, which looks unlikely given disagreement within EU member states and the position of the BRIC countries, the Climate Change Act should be effectively suspended and eventually repealed.”

I remain open-minded to the possibility that climate change may one day turn dangerous. So, it would be good to cut emissions, as long as we do not cause great suffering now for those on low incomes, or damage today’s environment.

July 19, 2014

Following his being fired from his position as Environment Secretary, Paterson said: [12]

“I have not been afraid to take on the greens on everything, from fracking to GM foods, the badger cull, even bees!”

Key Actions

March 8, 2020

Paterson tweeted a link to an article written by Matt Ridley for Global Vision entitled, ‘The Government’s energy policy could cripple global Britain’. The article stated that, “the purpose of decarbonisation is to alter the climate for the better. Yet nobody in their right mind thinks that net zero emissions will prevent wet winters and flooding. Such bad weather happened in the past anyway, and flood prevention and mitigation would be necessary even if the climate ceased warming. Rather than wasting money on subsidies to renewables, how about some flood defences? They work!” [30]

March 4, 2020

Paterson wrote an article for The Telegraph criticising the government’s plans to expand onshore wind energy as part of its efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Disputing the effectiveness of wind turbines, Paterson stated: “the problems of wind turbines go far beyond their being mere eyesores,” adding: “Wind turbines are already close to their maximum theoretical efficiency – the Betz limit – and their effectiveness will always be determined by the wind available.” [32]

Paterson also unfavourably compared renewable energy with nuclear energy, describing modular nuclear reactors as: “a proven technology which can provide power much more reliably than intermittent renewable sources.”

February 19, 2020

Paterson wrote an article for The Telegraph criticising the Environmental Agency (EA)’s response to flooding from Storms Ciara and Dennis, arguing that the decline in dredging and promotion of biodiversity had exacerbated floods. [33]

He wrote: “This self-regarding ‘environmental’ thinking was, ultimately, responsible for an environmental disaster estimated to have cost over £100 million. Unable to escape through undredged rivers, the flood waters stagnated, unable to support life and drowning countless land animals and ground-nesting birds.”

April 7, 2019

Documents showed Paterson had lobbied the Department for International Development to secure contracts for a multinational firm he was being paid to advise. Paterson is paid nearly £100,000 as a consultant for Randox, a private forensic testing firm. [27]

January 22, 2019

A Guardian report revealed that unknown donors had funded nearly £39,000 worth of trips by Paterson via UK 2020, the thinktank he set up after leaving the cabinet in 2014. The trips included one to the US in November 2018 to campaign for a hard Brexit. [26]

November 15, 2018

Paterson appeared alongside political lobbyist Shanker Singham and former Brexit Secretary David Davis at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation, discussing prospects for a USUK post-Brexit free trade agreement. [31]

September 19, 2018 

Paterson delivered a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Washington DC which has repeatedly spread disinformation about climate change and received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Foundation. [13]

According to the event description, Paterson made the case for how Brexit “can further strenghten the Special Relationship [between the UK and the US] as a powerful force for free trade and innovation on the world stage.” [13]

During his visit to Washington DC, Paterson also visited The White House Writers Group, which describes itself as a “strategic communications” consulting company. Writing on Twitter, Paterson boasted to have met US government representatives, farmers and industry representatives and discussed “the downsides for the US of Chequers preventing a USUK free trade deal and the spectacular gains which such a deal could provide for both countries.” [14], [15]

October 9, 2017

Paterson was pictured with Republican Senator for Oklahoma James (Jim) Inhofe and Director of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Myron Ebell. In the photo, Paterson is seen holding a copy of Inhofe’s book “The Greatest Hoax”, which claims global warming is a “conspiracy” being used to impose more regulations and increase taxes. [28]

October 4, 2017

Paterson delivered a speech to an invited audience at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a US thinktank with a history of spreading climate misinformation. In the speech, he said: [16], [17]

The EU has single-mindedly pursued an overly prescriptive interpretation of the “Precautionary Principle,” smothering opportunities for innovation in thrall to the emotions of vocal activists rather than scientific evidence and advice.

The green blob dominates thinking in Brussels, with generous grants given to green groups so that they will lobby it for regulations which then require large budgets to enforce.”

Paterson was introduced by Myron Ebell, the institute’s Director for Energy and Environment. Ebell led President Donald Trump’s transition team on energy issues, despite admitting he had never spoken to Trump, and is known for spreading climate science denial. [18]

March 2017

Paterson signed a letter to the BBC complaining about its coverage of the Brexit referendum. The letter argued the BBC was biased to the “remain” side of the campaign. [19], [20]

July 2016

Paterson declared his support for Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative party leadership contest following David Cameron’s resignation. Both Paterson and Leadsom have strong ties to a trans-Atlantic network of individuals and groups spreading climate disinformation and pushing for Brexit. [21]

May 2016

Signed a letter calling for the UK government to delay setting a target for its fifth carbon budget, as required by the Climate Change Act, as it would hurt the UK’s international economic competitiveness. [22]

January 2016

Paterson declared his intention to campaign for Brexit alongside brother-in-law and GWPF advisor Matt Ridley as part of the Business for Britain group. [23]

October 16, 2014

Shortly after being sacked from government Paterson delivered the annual lecture for climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which it was later revealed was partly written by brother-in-law and GWPF advisor Matt Ridley[6], [7]

November 2013

Paterson met with the bosses of a number of oil and gas companies interesting in fracking in the UK. The Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) decided to withhold an internal briefing it prepared for Paterson in advance of the meeting. [24]



According to his profile at his website, Paterson has held the following positions: [2]

  • MP for North Shropshire, May 1997 – present
  • Conservative Whip, 1999-2001 
  • PPS to the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, Sept 2001 – Oct 2003 
  • Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Oct 2005 – Nov 2006 
  • Shadow Minister of State for Transport, Nov 2006July 2007 
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, July 2007 May 2010 
  • Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, May 2010 Sep 2012
  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sep 2012 – July 2014

Social Media


Some sample publications by Owen Paterson below (view a larger list at his website):


  1. Owen Paterson,LinkedIn. Accessed December 28, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  2. About Owen,” Owen Paterson MP. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ZrGvK
  3. Andrew Sparrow. “I was sacked by David Cameron to appease ‘the green blob’, says Paterson,” The Guardian, July 20, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/LIP50
  4. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage,” General Register Office, December 3, 2014. Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  5. ACADEMIC ADVISORY COUNCIL,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/NaWvA
  6. Brendan Montague. “Sacked Environment Secretary Attacks Climate Change Act,” DeSmog, October 13, 2014.
  7. Brendan Montague. “Sacked Paterson Turns to Broken Banker Ridley for Climate Speech Briefings,” DeSmog, October 16, 2014.
  8. Francis Elliott. “Sacked minister sets up think tan,” The Times, August 9, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/HbV2G
  9. Kyla Mandel. “Sacked Environment Secretary Dodges Question on Whether he Will Challenge Conservative Party Leadership,” DeSmog, November 12, 2014.
  10. Owen Paterson’s speech on abandoning the 2050 climate change targets – full text,” The Spectator, October 15, 2014. Google Cache as of December 19, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/uMIeT
  11. The Future of Europe,” Owen Paterson MP, April 25, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  12. Simon Walters. “You can’t sack me! It’s a smash in the teeth for 12million voters (and I even fought for you over bees): Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson among a number of sacked ministers to react to ‘male and pale’ reshuffle with fury,” Daily Mail, July 19, 2014. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/mV9Xw
  13. Brexit at the Crossroads: Why U.S. Support for a Far-Reaching Agreement is Vital,” The Heritage Foundation, September 19, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  14. Strategic Communications for a Complex World,” White House Writers Group. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/62G66
  15. Great to be back in Washington. Many thanks @whwg for a fascinating discussion with US Govt representatives, farmers & industry on the downsides for the US of Chequers preventing a US/UK Free Trade Deal and the spectacular gains which such a deal could provide for both countries,” Twitter Post by user @OwenPaterson, September 18, 2018. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  16. Former U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson Outlines the Environmental Benefits of Brexit,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 13, 2017. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Lfwc4
  17. “Brexit: Good for the UK, good for the USA and good for the planet” (PDF), Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 4, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  18. Mat Hope. “UK Climate Science Denying GWPF Hosts Trump’s Fossil Fuelled ‘Environment Advisor’ Myron Ebell to Deliver Message to Britain,” DeSmog, January 30, 2017.
  19. Kyla Mandel. “MPs Who Complained About BBC‘s Brexit Coverage Linked to Network of Hardline Euro-Climate Sceptics,” DeSmog, March 23, 2017.
  20. RE: BBC Coverage of Brexit” (PDF), Julian Knight Member of Parliament for Solihull, March 20, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  21. Kyla Mandel. “Tory Leadership Race: The UKIP-ers and Climate Deniers Backing Gove and Leadsom,” DeSmog, July 5, 2016.
  22. Emily Gosden. “UK climate target will let rest of EU do less, MPs warn,” The Telegraph, May 14, 2016. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/5k21v
  23. Kyla Mandel. “UK Climate Deniers Ridley and Paterson Join the Campaign to Leave the EU,” DeSmog, January 6, 2016.
  24. Kyla Mandel. “Owen Paterson Meeting With Fracking Bosses Remains State Secret,” DeSmog, December 5, 2014.
  25. People,” UK2020. Archived December 28, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tSw1P
  26. David Pegg, Rob Evans, Felicity Lawrence. “Owen Paterson trips worth £39,000 funded by unknown donors,” The Guardian, January 22, 2019. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/0ubKx
  27. Rob Evans, David Pegg, Felicity Lawrence. “MP Owen Paterson lobbied government for firm he worked for,” The Guardian, April 7, 2019. Archived April 17, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/ze29b
  28. Great to meet a true conservative @JimInhofe with Myron Ebell @ceidotorg – Real opportunities to work more closely with the USA post-Brexit.” Tweet by @OwenPaterson, October 9, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  29. Owen Paterson. “WHY BREXIT IS GREAT FOR THE UK AND USA: ECONOMIST FOR FREE TRADE ADVISER RT HON OWEN PATERSON MP’S SPEECH TO HERITAGE FOUNDATION,” Economists for Free Trade, October 5, 2017. Archived June 26, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  30. Owen Paterson. “Great piece by @mattwridley on how an independent UK‘s “fate will depend on how competitive it is. There’s one slug of self-inflicted burdens that we are in the process of making much worse, perhaps crippling: our energy policy.” Tweet by @OwenPaterson, March 9, 2020. 
  31. Brexit and the Opportunities for the UKUS Trade Relationship,” The Heritage Foundation, November 15, 2018. Archived January 25, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/g8dbi 
  32. Owen Paterson. “Forget wind turbines. Here’s how we can meet Net Zero without derailing the economy,” The Telegraph, March 4, 2020. Archived February 8, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/uGGML 
  33. Owen Paterson. “Leaving the EU is a chance to rethink our disastrous flooding policy,” The Telegraph, February 19, 2020. Archived February 8, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/TG6aW 

Other Resources

Photo: Wikimedia Commons | CC3.0

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