Who is funding the climate change denial groups?

By Ken Perrott 25/01/2012

Have a look at Hot Topic’s Puppets on a string: US think tank funds NZ sceptics. A nice little exposure of how some of the local climate change denier groups get finance. We need more of these sorts of investigations.

Which brings me to the Guardian’s article Climate scientists back call for sceptic think-tank to reveal backers. Who funds the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based climate sceptic think-tank chaired by the former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson? Many have been asking this. The group has been very active, and quite effective, in high publicity campaigns aimed at discrediting climate science and scientists. In particular it has attacked any real or perceived attempt by institutes to restrict availability of data.

Good on them, you might say. And who could disagree with Lawson’s 2010 statement:

“Proper scientists, scientists of integrity, they reveal, and voluntarily they wish to reveal, all their data and all their methods; they do not need a Freedom of Information Act request to force it out of them.”

And he added:

“Integrity means you show everything, absolutely.”

But he sings a different tune when asked who is funding his organisation. He just refuses to reveal the identity of his big donors. Understandably many accuse him of double standards. (I have experienced exactly the same hypocrisy from local denier groups when I have asked for copies of their data and methodology.) And so far he has had the state bodies on his side – a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request to the Charity Commission for it to make public a bank statement it holds revealing the name of the educational charity’s seed donor, who gave £50,000 when it launched in 2009, has been denied.

This Friday that decision is being appealed on the grounds that the public interest will be served by ending the secrecy around the financing of Lawson’s charity. Brendan Montague, the director of an organisation called the Request Initiative, a “community interest company that makes Freedom of Information Act requests on behalf of charities, NGOs and non-profits”, is heading the appeal. He said:

“Lord Lawson’s thinktank, which has been bankrolled by shadowy funders, is lobbying government for a change in climate policy that would affect the lives of millions of people. The privacy of wealth has so far been valued above public accountability, even by our own civic institutions. The democratic principle of transparency is breached when a former chancellor can sit in the House of Lords influencing government policy on matters as important as climate change while accepting funding for his thinktank from secret supporters.”

This appeal has won support from climate scientists around the world who have often been the target of FOI requests. Some would say they have been harrased by such requests.

There is also an on-line petition (see Tell Climate Sceptic Think Tank to Disclose Funding). It declares: “a registered charity should not be hiding who is behind it, especially when its main aim is to change public opinion. Support the scientists’ request and insist that the public learn what is actually going on.”

Reminds me of a few sayings – What’s source for the goose is sauce for the gander. And people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

I’ll keep an eye open for the judge’s ruling.

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