Peter Lilley

Peter Lilley

Credentials

Background

Lord Peter Lilley is a former British Conservative Party MP and until April 2020, sat on the Board of Trustees of the UK climate science denying thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).2About Peter,” RT Hon Peter Lilley. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YUfyc 3Board of Trustees,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/phvTT He represented the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency from 1997 to 2017, previously holding the seat for St Albans from 1983.4Long-serving Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley announces he won’t be contesting seat at General Election,” The Herts Advertiser, April 26, 2017. Archived October 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL:  http://archive.fo/KtTuG

Lilley is a member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG), a group of Conservative MPs arguing that the government’s net zero commitments are too ambitious and costly. The group is led by Craig Mackinlay and GWPF trustee Steve Baker.5Adam Barnett. “Coverage of Tory MPs’ Energy Bills Letter Ignores Ties to Climate Science Denial Group,” DeSmog, January 7, 2022. 6Helena Horton and Matthew Taylor. “‘It’s all a bit cynical’: the politicians behind the Tory attack on net zero agenda,” The Guardian, February 8, 2022. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FWNeK

He began his political career as Parliamentary Private Secretary to then Chancellor Nigel Lawson, founder of the GWPF. Lilley subsequently served as Financial Secretary and Economic Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, and Trade Secretary and Social Security Secretary under John Major. 7“Long-serving Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley announces he won’t be contesting seat at General Election,” The Herts Advertiser, April 26, 2017. Archived October 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/KtTuG 8“Lord Lilley,” Parliament.ukArchived October 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/4wAsD

Lilley has a record of consistently voting against policy measures to tackle climate change, including in 2008 when he was one of only five MPs to vote against the UK’s Climate Change Act.9Lord Lilley,” TheyWorkForYou. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/r6LRC 10Gareth Redmond-King. “Happy Birthday, Climate Change Act!WWF, 23 November 2018. Archived March 7, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/O224B

He is a former member of the Government’s Environmental Audit Committee and the UK Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, which examined the policies of the government’s now-defunct Department of Energy and Climate Change.11“Membership – Environmental Audit Committee,” www.parliament.uk. Archived March 9, 2017. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tyShc 12Energy and Climate Change Committee – membership,” www.parliament.uk. Archived March 17, 2015. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/6Cj1W

According to parliamentary records, between 2006 and 2014 Lilley was a Non-Executive Director and Vice Chairman of Tethys Petroleum, a Cayman Islands-based oil and gas company with drilling operations in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.13“Register of Members’ Financial Interests – as at 2 May 2017 (last update of the 2015 Parliament)” (PDF), www.parliament.uk. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 14Leo Hickman. “MP Peter Lilley has received more than $400,000 in oil company share options,” The Guardian, November 20, 2012. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tPPSs

In 2012, he earned £47,000 from the role and received share options worth at least $400,000, according to an article in the Guardian.15Long-serving Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley announces he won’t be contesting seat at General Election,” The Herts Advertiser, April 26, 2017. Archived October 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL:  http://archive.fo/KtTuG 16“Register of Members’ Financial Interests – as at 19th November 2012” (PDF)www.parliament.uk. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 17Leo Hickman. “MP Peter Lilley has received more than $400,000 in oil company share options,” The Guardian, November 20, 2012. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tPPSs

A DeSmog investigation revealed in 2012 that Lilley was being paid $300 an hour to advise an Indian company building a coal-fired power station.18Graham Readfearn. “Exclusive: British MP On Climate Committee Advising On Coal Power For $300 An Hour,” DeSmog, November 27, 2012.

In 2018, Lilley was revealed as one of a five-member “expert committee” set up in October 2017 by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox days before a crunch EU summit over a Brexit deal. A Department for International Trade spokesperson said the committee existed to advise officials on “matters related to trade and investment.”19Chloe Farand. “Revealed: Liam Fox’s Trade Department is Taking Advice from ‘Experts’ with Links to Climate Science Denial Networks,” DeSmog, March 23, 2018.

Stance on Climate Change

November 5, 2009

During a debate in the House of Commons, Lilly declared:20Climate Change,” House of Commons Hansard Vol. 498 (November 5, 2009). Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/2Sxji

“The Government and the alarmists have to concoct a lot of feedbacks that so far have not manifested themselves to predict that in future we will see far higher rises in temperature from a given increase in CO2 than we have in the past. I am neither a denier of the science nor an alarmist. I am a lukewarmist, if one likes […] I am a global lukewarmist, and I take seriously[…]”

Lilley continued, contending there is no scientific consensus on climate change “at the alarmist end of the spectrum”:

“A lot of fairy stories are attached to and latched on to a genuine scientific concern. The first fairy tale, which the Government foster, is the idea that there is total consensus in science at the alarmist end of the spectrum. […] The simple fact is that the science is not resolved. A lot of serious scientists think that although there is a measure of impact—I agree with that—the alarmist views are not upheld by the science. A majority may well disagree with the scientists to whom I have referred.”

Key Quotes

March 11, 2022

In an op-ed for the Telegraph, Lilley wrote that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the UK’s concerns about energy security may mark a turning point in the government’s commitment to reach net zero. Lilley added that the ban on new oil and gas production was “virtue signalling” and should be reversed, writing: “It is sheer hypocrisy to curb domestic oil and gas production yet import fossil fuels instead. Worse than hypocritical, it is perverse – since importing LNG involves far higher emissions to liquefy, transport and regasify than using our own gas. So, it slows achieving Net Zero.”21Peter Lilley. “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shows the shallowness of Net Zero,” The Telegraph, March 11, 2022. Archived March 11, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/URQJw

Lilley also claimed that the UK is “endowed with huge amounts” of methane gas and said that the choice to maintain the 2019 ban on fracking demonstrated that “our politicians appear to have succumbed to a campaign mounted by eco-extremists”.

February 8, 2022

Speaking to the Guardian about the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG), a group of Conservative MPs arguing that the government’s net zero commitments are too costly, Lilley said:22Helena Horton and Matthew Taylor. “‘It’s all a bit cynical’: the politicians behind the Tory attack on net zero agenda,” The Guardian, February 8, 2022. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FWNeK

“Whenever the cost of decarbonising has become a political issue, the advocates – the opponents of imposing those costs on people’s budgets – have won. Look at the gilet jaunes in France, the Netherlands municipal elections, the Australian elections. People agree with tackling global warming in the abstract – but they aren’t prepared to pay for something that won’t have an impact perhaps for a century or more.”

June 12, 2019

In a debate in the House of Lords on a proposed “net zero emissions” target for the UK, Lilley said:23UK Net Zero Emissions Target,” Hansard, June 12, 2019. Archived June 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Za3Nk

“My Lords, I draw your attention to my interest as a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The Government have embarked on a policy that will result in one of the most expensive programmes since the introduction of the welfare state, without first carrying out a cost-benefit analysis. Is that not extraordinary given that when the previous target was raised from 60% to 80%, in the Government’s estimates the cost more than doubled? Going from 80% to 100% will certainly more than double it again.

“The Chancellor believes that it will cost a trillion pounds, which could otherwise be spent on welfare programmes, health and education; the UN climate committee believes it will cost at least twice what the Treasury estimates; and the New Zealand Government have estimated that it will cost five times as much relative to their economy, as has been suggested. Given that, is it not irrational to enter this, as any, policy programme without first estimating the costs and calculating the benefits? Why are we doing it?”

December 17, 2009

Lilley wrote a Wall Street Journal opinion article entitled “Global Warming as Groupthink,” in which he declared:24Peter Lilley. “Global Warming as Groupthink,” Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2009. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/aiCuj

“The tendency of those committed to the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming to unquestioningly adopt the assumptions, at every stage, that maximize the expectation of calamity should alert us that groupthink is driving the movement.”

November 23, 2009

Lilley appeared on RT to discuss the so-called “ClimateGate” affair, where he declared:25Climategate: ‘Scientists would rather change facts than their theories’,” YouTube video uploaded by user “RT,” November 23, 2009. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

“[Scientists] try to change the facts rather than trying to change their theory. […]”

“I feel certain from reading a lot of the emails and the documents that they were adjusting the data, manipulating the data, concealing the doubts they had internally and continuing to express certainty externally. There’s even example of the computer codes that they’ve adjusted to cut off the evidence of the recent period of global cooling. For the last decade, the world hasn’t heated up as their theories suggest it should have done. Indeed, it has cooled slightly.

[…] And likewise they’ve altered the data in the past, or they’ve selected data from the past which has wiped out the evidence of the so-called medieval warming period when the world was probably warmer than it is now, because after all if it was warmer then without us all burning lots of hydrocarbons, it’s suggests that the hydrocarbons aren’t the only things that cause the temperature and the climate to change.”

“I personally—I’m a physicist by training, long ago—accept that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will produce a modest warming in the climate, but nothing like the alarmist fears which these scientists have been trying to generate or that lie behind the Copenhagen conference.”

November 19, 2008

Speaking about the Stern Report in a Commons debate, Lilley said:26Stern Report,” www.parliament.uk, November 19, 2008. Archived November 30, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ykhmY

“My overall position on global warming is that, as a physicist — I studied physics at Cambridge — I am not one of those who deny that carbon dioxide emissions heat the planet. They do have that effect, although there is less certainty about how much the complex feedback effects that climate models seek to replicate may amplify the comparatively modest effect of increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, in my view it is wise to take measures to prevent and to adapt to global warming, and it is sensible to try to assess the costs and benefits of action and inaction to ensure that we adopt the most cost-effective approach.”

“The simple fact is that, since the beginning of this century, the average global temperature has flatlined; indeed, over the past 18 months it has fallen back, and according to the satellite measurements of temperature, it is now basically back at the level it was in 1979, when such measurements started to be taken.”

November 5, 2009

In a Commons debate, Lilley declared:27Daily Hansard Debate: 5 Nov 2009 : Column 1053,” www.parliament.uk, November 5, 2009. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/rVPvb

“I hope that we will listen to those scientists, many of whom are in Government employ, who have warned against alarmist views, and that we will take a more consensual view of the basic minimum science that is agreed and open that up to debate and discussion, without trying to silence those who disagree by calling them “deniers” and equating them with holocaust deniers. As I said, I am not a denier-I am a lukewarmer-but even those who deny the existence of anthropological global warning deserve to be heard, just as the alarmists do, and it is sad that we have heard only one or two such views expressed in the House today.”

Key Actions

April 15, 2021

Lilley was one of 13 members appointed to the House of Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee, a panel examining the environmental impacts of government policy, The Independent reported. Referring to environmentalists who had criticised his appointment as “alarmists,” Lilley told The Independent that he “may ask inconvenient questions about what scientific evidence there is for alarmist claims.28Tom Batchelor. “Tory peer with strong links to climate denial appointed to panel overseeing government’s environment policy,” The Independent, April 15, 2021. Archived April 19, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/ZTdOW

April 27, 2020

According to Companies House, Lilley’s role as a trustee and director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) was terminated. He did not respond to a request for comment from DeSmog.29Termination of a Director Appointment GWPF,” Companies House, June 9, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

May 16, 2019

Lilley took part in a House of Lords debate on the teaching of climate science, in which he said:30Education: Climate Change Science,” Hansard, May 16, 2019. Archived June 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/Wj2mv

“…let children know that the impact of CO2 is well established by observations and can be measured, and that the direct effect of doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will be a one degree centigrade increase in the average temperature of the globe.”

A previous fact-check by Carbon Brief detailed numerous studies that predict a substantially higher temperature rise.31Zeke Hausfather. “Explainer: How scientists estimate ‘climate sensitivity’,” Carbon Brief, June 19, 2018. Archived June 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/jHNtK

November 22, 2018

Lilley attended an event organised by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) in the House of Commons to mark the 10 year anniversary of the UK‘s Climate Change Act. Both the GWPF and Lilley have repeatedly opposed the Act, claiming it “burdened consumers with extraordinary costs.”32(Press Release). “TEN YEARS ON, UK CLIMATE CHANGE ACT IS HARMING THE POOR,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 22, 2018. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/wYThV

For the occasion, the GWPF launched a report which blames the Climate Change Act “and other anti-fossil-fuel policies” for “worsening” fuel poverty in the UK.33Rupert Darwall. “THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACT AT TEN History’s most expensive virtue signal” (PDF), Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 20, 2018.

It claims that “rather than solving climate change, the only detectable effect of the Climate Change Act has been to sustain levels of energy poverty that politicians from all parties had promised to abolish.” The report was written by climate science denier Rupert Darwall.34Rupert Darwall. “THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACT AT TEN History’s most expensive virtue signal” (PDF), Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 20, 2018. 

Speaking at the event, Lilley said: “I decided to vote against the Climate Change Act when I read the impact assessment which showed that the potential cost was twice the prospective benefit. Ten years later the costs are coming home to roost and the benefits remain illusory.”35(Press Release). “TEN YEARS ON, UK CLIMATE CHANGE ACT IS HARMING THE POOR,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 22, 2018. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/wYThV

March 23, 2018

A DeSmog investigation revealed that Lilley was one of a five-member “expert committee” closely advising then International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on “matters related to trade and investment”. Other members included Ruth Lea, a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Shanker Singham, Fellow of International Trade and Competition at the Institute of Economic Affairs.36Chloe Farand. “Revealed: Liam Fox’s Trade Department is Taking Advice from ‘Experts’ with Links to Climate Science Denial Networks,” DeSmog, March 23, 2018.

January 2018

Lilley was involved in a Channel 4 sting over politicians being offered cash to advise on Brexit. Lilley denied the allegations and reported Channel 4 to Ofcom over the programme.37Simon Walters and Glen Owen. “Ex Trade Secretary Peter Lilley ‘boasted’ he was in line for a peerage in ‘Chinese cash for Brexit sting‘,” Daily Mail, January 27, 2018. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/blXEC 38(Press Release). “Peter Lilley refers Channel 4 to Ofcom,” Rt Hon Peter Lilley, January 27, 2018. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/hBVIM

April 2017

Ahead of the UK 2017 General Election Lilley stepped down as an MP for Hitchin and Harpenden after 34 years with the Conservative Party.39Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley is stepping down ‘because of Theresa May’,” Hertfordshire Mercury, April 26, 2017. Archived April 27, 2017. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YYvjV

December 2016

Lilley wrote a report entitled “The Cost of the Climate Change Act” for the GWPF. In it he claims that climate policy will cost the nation £319 billion.40Peter Lilley. “£300 BILLION: The cost of the Climate Change Act” (PDF), The Global Warming Policy Foundation, December 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

July 2015

Lilley joined the GWPF along with Labour MP Graham Stringer as members of the Board of Trustees.41Board of Trustees,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/phvTT 42Gareth Redmond-King. “Happy Birthday, Climate Change Act!WWF, 23 November 2018. Archived March 7, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/O224B

July 2014

Lilley was one of two MPs to vote against the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s acceptance of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of global warming.43Matt McGrath. “MPs bicker over IPCC report on causes of climate change,” BBC News, July 29, 2014. Archived December 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/eiwzP

During this same month, Lilley attended a meeting in the House of Commons organised by climate science denier and Northern Ireland politician Sammy Wilson. The meeting was organised on behalf of “Repeal the Act,” a group that argues the “climate is always changing” and seeks to repeal the UK’s Climate Change Act.44Richard Tol Dons Cloak of Climate Denial,” DeSmog, July 14, 2014.

October 30, 2012

Lilley wrote a letter to the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards complaining about the broadcaster’s “systemic bias” in its climate change reporting.45(Press Release). “PETER LILLEY ACCUSES BBC OF SYSTEMATIC BIAS IN ITS HANDLING OF CLIMATE CHANGE EVIDENCE,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, October 30, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/pZH6X

September 2012

Peter Lilley wrote a report for the GWPF entitled “What is Wrong with Stern: The Failings of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.” Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, described Lilley’s GWPF report as being based on “misrepresentations and bad economics.46What is Wrong with Stern: The Failings of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change” (PDF), The Global Warming Policy Foundation, September 2012. 47Bob Ward. “Critics of the Stern Review present both a case of bad economics and fundamentally flawed science,” The London School of Economics and Political Science (blog), October 3, 2012. Archived October 29, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/STvl1

October 2008

Lilley was one of only three MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act. He claimed one reason for doing so was because it was snowing in October which he argued showed winters weren’t warming.48Adam Vaughan. “Green campaigners condemn Peter Lilley’s energy committee post,” The Guardian, October 25, 2012. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/LMvJj 49Brendan Montague. “Here’s Why MP Peter Lilley Voted Against the Climate Change Act,” DeSmog, September 3, 2015.

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

According to his bio, Lilley is the author of several publications including:60About Peter,” RT Hon Peter Lilley. Archived December 29, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YUfyc

  • Do You Sincerely Want to Win? -Defeating Terrorism in Ulster, 1972
  • Lessons for Power, 1974
  • Delusions of Income Policy (co-written with Samuel Brittan), 1977
  • End of the Keynesian Era (contributor), 1980
  • Thatcherism, the Next Generation, 1989
  • The Mais Lecture Benefits and Costs: Securing the Future of the Social Security, 1993
  • Patient Power (published by Demos) 2000
  • Commonsense on Cannabis (Social Market Foundation) 2001
  • Taking Liberties (Adam Smith Institute) 2002
  • Save Our Pensions (Social Market Foundation) 2003
  • Identity Crisis – the case against ID Cards (Bow Group) 2005
  • Immigration – too much of a good thing? (Centre for Policy Studies) 2005

Other Resources

Resources

Photo: Wikimedia Commons | CC2.0

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