FOIA and the GWPF

by | Jan 25, 2012

I have a piece up on Spiked today, about Brendan Montague/Request Initiative and their ongoing attempt to use the FOIA to ‘find out’ about the GWPF’s donors.

The first question asked about anyone making a non-conforming argument in the climate debate is ‘who funds them?’ And so it is with the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – a three-man, cross-party, independent think tank with charitable status, which dared to challenge climate orthodoxy. The Charities Commission rejected an Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding to know who gave the GWPF its first cheque of £50,000. Several climate scientists have backed the call for the Charities Commission to reveal who backs the GWPF.

Read it here.

I’ve never been a fan of the follow-the-money argument, as all we need to do to show that the other argument is just as lame is to follow the money in the other direction. But perhaps more importantly, energy corporations don’t really care where they get their money from. If they can get more of it by doing less, so much the better for them. (Have they forgotten Enron already?)

This silly case must indicate that environmentalism is suffering intellectually lean times. Leo Hickman’s Guardian article on the case was especially poor, and the thinking lopsided. I perhaps unwisely suggested in a ‘tweet’ that the quality of the article reflects him being a w**ker. This led in turn to some Twitter exchanges, in which it was suggested I was a ‘troll’ rather than a proper sceptic, and the complainant — a somewhat naive and a little bit daft climate scientist — dropping me from her Twitter feed.

Funny, I suggested, that one can claim that the GWPF are guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ — i.e. that their words are morally comparable to the systematic murder of people — and nobody bats an eyelid, but suggest that members of the Guardian’s environment department play with themselves, and your a troll. All the more an irony that the claim comes from the Guardian’s ‘ethical’ correspondent, whereas it was my ethics that were questioned, as though I had lost my moral compass.

A sense of proportion is all that it takes to see through environmentalism.

1 Comment

  1. Alex Cull

    Good article at Spiked. In June last year, Brendan Montague wrote this piece in the Independent about the International Policy Network in the UK:

    The IPN name soon became associated with ExxonMobil after the American oil giant revealed in its own publications that it granted almost £250,000 ($400,000) to the IPN in the US between 2003 and 2006. An examination of IPN UK accounts registered at Companies House revealed that from 2003 to 2005 the US think tank in turn granted £204,379 to the IPN in London.

    Exxon stopped funding the IPN following a letter in 2006 from Bob Ward who was then at the Royal Society calling on the world’ s largest seller of fossil fuel to stop funding organisations that were actively spreading misinformation about the science of human forced climate change. Ward is now at the Grantham Institute at the LSE in London.

    As previously noted on Climate Resistance, the Grantham Institute is funded by the Grantham Foundation, into which flows income from Jeremy Grantham’s asset management company GMO LLC, including dividends from blue-chip holdings such as, among others, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Philip Morris and Exxon Mobil. Which means, of course, that the Grantham Institute is being indirectly funded by Big Oil and Big Tobacco.

    Jeremy Grantham is no fool, evidently, and it suits him to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds; whoever prevails in the climate wars, he will benefit. He is also entitled to do what he wants with his money, within the law. But then so are the donors of funds to the GWPF.

    What the arguments of Brendan Montague and Bob Ward would seem implicitly to boil down to is (in baby talk): bad money is not bad when used for a good cause (climate change research and advocacy), but bad money remains bad when used for a bad cause (“climate denial”, to use Montague’s phrase). So then it’s down to who gets to define, in this context, what is “good” and what is “bad”.

    Brendan no doubt places the GWPF’s and Nigel Lawson’s position, on climate change and developments such as the shale gas revolution, on the bad side of the equation. But has he fully grasped the impacts that the government’s (Grantham Institute-influenced) climate change strategy will have on the UK economy?

    Brendan’s qualifications are outlined on his website. He holds a Master of Arts in Modern Studies, a course which included “postmodernism and deconstruction, from Jacques Derrida and Claude Lévi-Strauss to Carl Jung.” All useful stuff, no doubt.

    However, he also writes the following. “If he ever gets time, Brendan would like to take an accountancy course or study economics.” Maybe Lord Lawson could help him with the latter?



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