Global Warming Policy Foundation
|Founded||November 23, 2009|
|Type||Government lobby group|
|Registration no.||1131448 |
|Terence Mordaunt, Chairman|
Benny Peiser, Director
|GB£158,008 (FY 2011)|
|Endowment||GB£325,842 (FY 2011) |
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is a lobby group in the United Kingdom whose stated aims are to challenge "extremely damaging and harmful policies" envisaged by governments to mitigate anthropogenic global warming. The GWPF as well as some of its prominent members have been characterized as promoting climate change denial.
In 2014, when the Charity Commission ruled that the GWPF had breached rules on impartiality, a non-charitable organisation called the "Global Warming Policy Forum" was created as a wholly owned subsidiary, to do lobbying that a charity could not. The GWPF website carries an array of articles "sceptical" of scientific findings of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts.
The foundation was established in November 2009, a week after the start of the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, with its headquarters in a room of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining at 1 Carlton House Terrace, London, and subsequently moved to 55 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL. Its director is Benny Peiser, an expert on the social and economic aspects of physical exercise, and it is chaired by Terence Mordaunt, co-owner of the cargo handling business Bristol Port Company. It was previously chaired by the 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 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.
Bob Ward, the policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, commented:
- "These [FoI] documents expose once again the double standards promoted by ... the GWPF, who demand absolute transparency from everybody except themselves ... The GWPF was the most strident critic during the 'Climategate' row of the standards of transparency practised by the University of East Anglia, yet it simply refuses to disclose basic information about its own secretive operations, including the identity of its funders."
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 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.
In June 2013 Bob Ward 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.
In 2014 the Charity Commission ruled that the GWPF had breached rules on impartiality in its climate change coverage, blurred fact and comment and demonstrated a clear bias. In response, the GWPF agreed to establish a non-charitable organisation to do the lobbying, alongside the existing organisation, to be called the "Global Warming Policy Forum". The GWP Forum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GWP Foundation.
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 to 2008. Hannah Devlin of The Times found an error for 2003 and noted that if the period from 2000 to 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.
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.
One of the Foundation's trustees, Graham Stringer MP, a Labour party politician, sits on the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee,  a Parliamentary select committee which scrutinises government actions in relation to topics including climate change.
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 "for all its sharp—and in many cases justified—rejoinders to the official inquiries its report 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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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,
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- Foster, Peter, "Peter Foster: Checking the hockey team Archived 2010-07-13 at the Wayback Machine", 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, "
- Randerson, James, "'Climategate' inquiries were 'highly defective', report for sceptic thinktank rules", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.
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- Pearce, Fred. "Montford lands some solid blows in review of 'climategate' inquiries", The Guardian, 14 September 2010.