Global Warming Policy Foundation
|Founded||November 23, 2009|
|Type||Educational charity |
|Tax ID no.||06962749 |
|Registration no.||1131448 |
|Focus||"to analyse global warming policies and their economic and other implications" |
|Method||"to inform the media, politicians and the public" |
|Key people||Nigel Lawson, Chairman
Benny Peiser, Director
|Revenue||GB£158,008 (FY 2011) |
|Endowment||GB£325,842 (FY 2011) |
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is a think tank in the United Kingdom, whose stated aims are to challenge "extremely damaging and harmful policies" envisaged by governments to mitigate anthropogenic global warming. The Independent describes the foundation as "the UK's most prominent source of climate-change denial".
The foundation was established in November 2009, shortly after the start of the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, and its headquarters occupy a room at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. Its director is the social anthropologist Benny Peiser, and it is chaired by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson. GWPF states that it is "deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated" to address climate change and that it aims to "bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant".
Call for an independent inquiry into Climate Research Unit e-mails
The GWPF's first act was to call for a high-level, independent inquiry into the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. A spokesman for the Met Office, a government agency which works with the Climate Research Unit in providing global temperature information, dismissed this call. "If you look at the emails, there isn't any evidence that the data was falsified and there's no evidence that climate change is a hoax. It's a shame that some of the sceptics have had to take this rather shallow attempt to discredit robust science undertaken by some of the world's most respected scientists. The bottom line is that temperatures continue to rise and humans are responsible for it. We have every confidence in the science and the various datasets we use. The peer-review process is as robust as it could possibly be."
Lawson suggested that the e-mails from the University of East Anglia "called into question" the integrity of the scientific evidence. Subsequent investigations did not support this view. GWPF Director Benny Peiser said that the organisation did not doubt the science and wasn’t going to discuss it, but want an open, frank debate about what policies should be adopted.
Because it is registered as a charity, the GWPF is not legally required to report its sources of funding, and Peiser has declined to reveal its funding sources, citing privacy concerns. Peiser said GWPF does not receive funding "from people with links to energy companies or from the companies themselves." The foundation has rejected freedom of information (FoI) requests to disclose its funding sources on at least four different occasions. The judge ruling on the latest FoI request, Alison McKenna, said that the GWPF was not sufficiently influential to merit forcing them to disclose the source of the £50,000 that was originally provided to establish the organization.
According to a press release on the organization's website, GWPF "is funded entirely by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company." Annual membership contributions are "a minimum of £100". In accounts filed at the beginning of 2011 with the Charities Commission and at Companies House, it was revealed that only £8,168 of the £503,302 the Foundation received as income, from its founding in November 2009 until the end of July 2010, came from membership contributions. In response to the accounts, Bob Ward (communications director the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science) commented that "Its income suggests that it only has about 80 members, which means that it is a fringe group promoting the interests of a very small number of politically motivated campaigners." Similarly, based on membership fees reported for the year ending 31 July 2012, it appears that GWPF had no more than 120 members at that time.
In March 2012, The Guardian revealed that it had uncovered emails in which Michael Hintze, founder of the hedge fund CQS and a major donor to the UK Conservative Party, disclosed having donated to GWPF; the previous October, Hintze had been at the center of a funding scandal that led to the resignation of then-Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox and the dismissal of Hintze's then-charity adviser, Oliver Hylton.
There have been calls for the Charity Commission to reconsider the GWPF's charitable status. Campaigning statements made by Lawson have been said to misrepresent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and the Charity Commission insist that charities must use factually accurate material when campaigning.
In June 2013 it was reported that Bob Ward had filed a formal complaint to the Charity Commission, alleging that the GWPF had "persistently disseminated inaccurate and misleading information about climate change as part of its campaign against climate policies in the UK and overseas", and that this was an abuse of their charitable status. The Charity Commission stated it was "assessing the concerns to determine whether there is any regulatory action for the Commission to take". It would give the foundation an opportunity to respond, and if it was considered to have breached charitable status conditions the foundation would have a chance to show it had corrected the problem before a formal investigation was instigated. Peiser issued a response denying the allegations, stating that "The GWPF has never participated in any campaigning and does not promote any particular line of opinion". Ward described this as untrue, citing what he considered to be examples of inaccurate campaigning statements.
When the GWPF's website was launched in November 2009, a graph used in the logo graphic on each page of the website of '21st Century global mean temperatures' showed a slow decline over the selected period from 2001–2008. Hannah Devlin of The Times found an error for 2003 and noted that if the period from 2000–2009 had been chosen, then a rise in temperature would have been shown rather than a fall. Bob Ward said that the graph was contrary to the true measurements, and that by leaving out the temperature trend during the 20th century, the graph obscured the fact that 8 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred this century. The GWPF blamed a "small error by our graphic designer" for the mistake which would now be changed, but said that starting the graph earlier would be equally arbitrary.
In May 2014, the GWPF listed Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist, as the director, and a board of trustees consisting of Lord Lawson (Chairman), Lord Donoughue, Lord Fellowes, Peter R. Forster (the Bishop of Chester), Martin Jacomb, Baroness Nicholson, Sir James Spooner and Lord Turnbull.
The academic advisory council includes David Henderson, Adrian Berry, Samuel Brittan, Ian Byatt, Robert M. Carter, Vincent Courtillot, Freeman Dyson, Christian Gerondeau, Indur M. Goklany, William Happer, Terence Kealey, Anthony Kelly, Deepak Lal, Richard Lindzen, Ross McKitrick, Robert O. Mendelsohn, Alan Peacock, Ian Plimer, Paul Reiter, Matt Ridley, Alan Rudge, Nir Shaviv, Philip Stott, Henrik Svensmark, Richard Tol, and David Whitehouse.
Andrew William Montford has been appointed to run an inquiry into the three British Climategate-inquiries for the Global Warming Policy Foundation. His report The Climategate Inquiries was published in September 2010, and is sharply critical of the previous inquiries.
David Aaronovitch noted the GWPF's launch in The Times, writing "Lord Lawson’s acceptance of the science turns out, on close scrutiny, to be considerably less than half-hearted. Thus he speaks of 'the (present) majority scientific view', hinting rather slyly at the near possibility of a future, entirely different scientific view. (...) 'Sceptic' (...) is simply a misnomer. People such as Lord Lawson are not sceptical, for if one major peer-reviewed piece of scientific research were ever to be published casting doubt on climate change theory, you just know they’d have it up in neon at Piccadilly Circus. They are only sceptical about what they don’t want to be true."
The Guardian quoted Bob Ward as saying "some of those names are straight from the Who's Who of current climate change sceptics ... It's just going to be a way of pumping material into the debate that hasn't been through scrutiny". The Guardian article cast doubt on the idea that an upsurge in scepticism was underway, noting that "in (the US) Congress, even the most determined opponents of climate change legislation now frame their arguments in economic terms rather than on the science".
Fred Pearce wrote in The Guardian that the three inquiries GWPF looked into were all badly flawed, and that The Climategate Inquiries report ably dissects their failures. He writes that the report, "for all its sharp—and in many cases justified—rejoinders to the official inquiries ... is likely to be ignored in some quarters for its brazen hypocrisy." Pearce argues that one of the criticisms of the three inquiries was that no climate sceptics were on the inquiry teams, and now the critics themselves have produced a review of the reviews that included no one not already supportive of the sceptical position. But, Pearce wrote, Montford "has landed some good blows here." 
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- Lawson, Nigel (24 November 2009). "Copenhagen will fail – and quite right too". The Times (London: timesonline.co.uk). Retrieved 22 December 2009. "Last week an apparent hacker obtained access to their computers and published in the blogosphere part of their internal e-mail traffic. And the CRU has conceded that the at least some of the published e-mails are genuine."
- Ramnarayan, Abhinav (2 December 2009). "Climate change sceptics: Phil Jones inquiry must be 'independent and transparent'". The Times (London: timesonline.co.uk). Retrieved 22 December 2009. "The inquiry into the leaked-emails controversy at the University of East Anglia must be independent and transparent for the sake of science, a prominent climate change sceptic group said today. [...] The investigation comes after e-mails between scientists at the CRU were hacked and posted online by climate change sceptics,"
- Hickman, Leo (23 November 2009). "Climate change champion and sceptic both call for inquiry into leaked emails". The Guardian (London: guardian.co.uk). Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Aaronovitch, David (24 November 2009). "Strip away the figleaf and reveal naysayers". The Times (London: timesonline.co.uk). Retrieved 24 November 2009.
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- Black, Robert (February 22, 2012). "Confessions of a climate gate-opener". BBC. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- GWPF, "Become a GWPF member". Accessed: Feb 16, 2014.
- Hickman, Leo (20 January 2011). "Global Warming Policy Foundation donor funding levels revealed". The Guardian (London).
- Ward, Bob (15 February 2013). "Secret funding of climate sceptics is not restricted to the US". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Readfearn, Graham (27 March 2012). "Michael Hintze revealed as funder of Lord Lawson's climate thinktank". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Ward, Bob (21 October 2011). "Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation is spreading errors". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Bawden, Tom (14 June 2013). "Lord Lawson's climate-change think tank risks being dismantled after complaint it persistently misled public - Climate Change - Environment". The Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- Devlin, Hannah (1 December 2009). "Climate sceptics get it wrong". The Times (timesonline.typepad.com). Retrieved 25 December 2009.[dead link]
- "Board of Trustees". Global Warming Policy Foundation. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- "Academic Advisory Council". Global Warming Policy Foundation. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- Miersch, Michael (23 November 2009). "Benny Peiser ist jetzt Direktor der Global Warming Policy Foundation". Die Achse des Guten. achgut.com. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Foster, Peter, "Peter Foster: Checking the hockey team", National Post, July 9, 2010. "The third British investigation into the Climategate scandal -- led by former civil servant Sir Muir Russell -- amounts, at best, to a greywash. [...] The U.K.-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, an influential skeptical institution, has now appointed Mr. Montford to run an inquiry into the three British inquiries. There will be no whitewash here, "
- Andrew, Montford (2010-09-14). "Damning New Investigation Into Climategate Inquiries". Global Warming Policy Foundation. Retrieved 2014-05-25. "The report The Climategate Inquiries, written by Andrew Montford and with a foreword by Lord (Andrew) Turnbull, finds that the inquiries into the conduct and integrity of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia were rushed and seriously inadequate."
- Randerson, James, "'Climategate' inquiries were 'highly defective', report for sceptic thinktank rules", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.
- David Aaronovitch (November 24, 2009). "Strip away the figleaf and reveal naysayers". The Times (London). Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- Caroline Davies; Suzanne Goldenberg (November 24, 2009). "The voices of climate change sceptics". The Guardian (London/Manchester). Retrieved January 22, 2010.
- Pearce, Fred. "Montford lands some solid blows in review of 'climategate' inquiries", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.