Carbon Brief’s strange FOI story

This was a Twitter thread, which I thought would be better as a blog post…

Oh, look, here is a “scientist” sharing that extremely weird FOI story about the team which changed the Prime Minister’s mind about climate change. You might expect a scientist to check the facts and question the motivation… But he appears to have forgotten something…

Carbon Brief — an ersatz ‘think tank’, but zombie propaganda outfit, funded exclusively by green billionaires — claim that the meeting between Johnson and scientists took place on 28 January 2020, in which the PM was forced by “The Science” to change his mind. Why would they want to say that?!!

Using a FOI request submitted to the UK’s Government Office for Science (“GO-Science”), Carbon Brief has now obtained the contents of this pivotal scientific briefing, which took place on 28 January 2020 inside 10 Downing Street.

Below, Carbon Brief reveals the 11 slides that were used to “teach” Johnson about climate change, as well as the email correspondence exchanged between leading scientists and advisors as they prepared the prime minister’s briefing.

This seems wrong, because we can know for sure that the PM was, on day one of his new job, singing about the virtues of the green agenda.

I wrote about that speech for TCW the next day, six months before the meeting…

IN HIS first session as PM in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson made two notable statements yesterday. First, he declared that the Conservative Party is the party of democracy, and that as such it will defend the result of the referendum. Second, he reaffirmed his commitment to the Net Zero 2050 target – the policy that Theresa May had stolen from his leadership campaign to secure her own ‘legacy’. Only one of those statements can be correct.

Just a few weeks later, Boris had already declared a ban on gas boilers, as I pointed out in September 2019 — at least four months before his epiphany.

NEWS emerged this weekend that the Conservative Party Conference will hear the leadership’s proposals to achieve Theresa May’s ‘legacy’ Net Zero 2050 target. According to reports, amongst the first steps on this path will be the outlawing of gas connections to any newly built home. This makes no practical, economic or political sense.

But it goes back further than that – Johnson wasn’t merely following the direction of his party.

As I wrote before he became PM, he was offering Net Zero before Parliament had even decided it

On Twitter, the contest favourite, Boris Johnson, emphasised his green credentials, tweeting that if he won, his government would ‘legislate for net zero emissions by 2050 and embrace the opportunity of green growth for the UK as a global decarbonisation leader’. This was followed a week later by Theresa May stealing Boris’s thunder, to make the Net Zero target her own ‘legacy’, not the future leader’s promise.

And Johnson, the new Green PM, made other climate commitments too. In September, he committed £1.2 billion to green and climate causes.

In October 2019, the BBC reported that,

The prime minister is to chair a new cabinet committee on climate change to drive action to cut emissions across the government…

And that was months before his alleged ‘conversion’…

The early Johnson government was full of green generosity… Billions, billions, billions…

The new Ayrton Fund launched by the Prime Minister today is an example of the UK’s ICF’s investment. The Fund will give British scientists and innovators access to up to £1 billion of aid funding to create new technology to help developing countries reduce their emissions and meet global climate change targets.

This announcement means the UK will up its ICF support to at least £11.6 billion over the next five years, between 2021/22 to 2025/26. This represents a doubling of the UK’s commitment to spend at least £5.8 billion on tackling climate change to 2021, announced ahead of the landmark Paris meeting, COP21, in 2015.

The impacts of climate change will be felt most severely in the developing world, where 100 million people could be pushed into poverty by climate impacts as soon as 2030, according to the World Bank. This significant uplift in UK aid support will help developing countries pursue low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable development.

Carbon Brief — the strange organisation that has ‘exposed’ the PM’s green conversion — was itself reporting Johnson’s green credentials months before the conversion…

‘We can do it’: Boris Johnson declares UK can lead the world in building net-zero economy

Just days before his meeting with scientists, Johnson — still allegedly a climate sceptic — gave hyper-corrupt agent of green billionaires, Mark Carney a new role at COP26, allowing him to further serve the interests of Mike Bloomberg.

Having won the 2019 general election, Johnson pivoted the main point of the vote, from Brexit to climate, announcing his plan “to make this country the cleanest, greenest on Earth, with the most far-reaching environmental programme”.

Mr Johnson said the Tories’ victory had “smashed the roadblock” in Parliament over Brexit and put an end to the “miserable threats” of another referendum on Europe.

He added his government will put “colossal new investments in infrastructure, in science, using our incredible technological advantages to make this country the cleanest, greenest on Earth, with the most far-reaching environmental programme”.

He said: “You the people of this country voted to be carbon neutral in this election. You voted to be carbon neutral by 2050 and we’ll do it.”

“You voted for all these things and it is now this government, this People’s Government, it’s our solemn duty to deliver on each and every one of those commitments.”

So, the idea of Johnson suddenly being converted in January 2020 is clearly bullshit. Yet this is what the UK’s green blobbers are all trying to claim…

It is not plausible.

Johnson had championed Net Zero before the government and Parliament…

And he had had cross words with Trump about the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. He banned boilers, and he had given green tory cronies many £billions of public money, before even the election and before the scientists’ intervention.

Greens in general, and the CB (and its chair) in particular get very excited about FOIs, because they believe they have forced the government into admitting something. They let the excitement get ahead of the story. The clear facts surrounding the FOI are omitted. By seemingly forcing the government to admit to something, the narrative creates the idea of reluctance, and of something to hide, and a moment of transformation — Boris’s epiphany. Never mind the abundance of evidence to the contrary.

But what possible motivation could exist for spinning this narrative in this way? It may actually harm their cause. Recall that Gove has recently had to admit that the PM made the right call in apparently contradicting the science…

This is manifestly an attempt to re-write very recent political history, for some strange end, we know not what. But it creates the hazard of merely reproducing the idea of a weak and feeble prime-minster, with only shabby commitments to ‘libertarianism’, being bounced into draconian and chaotic policymaking by his wife and “scientists”.

There is growing scepticism of the use of modelling as the basis for policymaking. I do not want to stop Carbon Brief damaging their own mission. But, all the same, they have given us an opportunity to point out the many errors at the centre of green thinking — the modelling itself, and the constant historical revision require to sustain the green agenda.

#FLOP26 Livestreams catch-up

Here are this #FLOP26 Livestreams recorded so far.

If you watch them on Youtube, you may have to scroll past the 10 minute intros on each video, but they’re all cued-up here at the start of each conversation.

Look out for details of each new daily Livestream during COP26, on my Twitter page, or on my Youtube channel.

If you can, please help support this project on my donations page. And if you can’t, please help by subscribing to the Youtube channel, liking and sharing the conversations. It all helps.

Benny Peiser

Austin Williams

Richard North

Climategate special with Stephen McIntyre, David Whitehouse and Andrew Montford

Martin Durkin

Rupert Darwall

James Woudhuysen

Chris Horner

Alex Epstein

Journalism at the end of the world — panel discussion with David Rose, Andrew Orlowski and Roby Lyons

New Project: the #FLOP26 Livestream

The annual UNFCCC, COP meeting climate ritual is returning after its Covid19 hiatus.

Naturally, the UK being this year’s host means that we have had to endure perhaps the most intolerable levels of green propaganda, as well as Lockdowns.

What I have always found most obnoxious about the clear signification of the political establishment’s determination to exclude the public from politics, but acting as though the entire country had even been asked for their views, let alone agreed on the green agenda.

Parliament, which has only just got the message that the population of the UK did not share their views of the European Union, seems intent on creating a new, far more powerful global bureaucracy, which will be imposed on us.

There just about remains in Britain the possibility for a healthy debate across a number of different lines relating to climate change. But it is the predominance of the green blob that precludes healthy, democratic exchanges. Consequently, Net Zero is a policy agenda that has been conceived of by conflicted technocrats, is uncosted, and will cause real harm to millions of people.

Above all, the climate agenda is profoundly anti-democratic. It does not seek the consent over those whom it will be imposed on. But as we can see, from the ‘climate crisis’ alarmism, through the poorly-conceived NetZero policy agenda, to the rampant hypocrisy and anti-human nature of the environmental movement, it is deeply flawed in its foundation and execution.

So my plan is to hold a daily, parallel livestream event that will put these objections in one place.

I have asked each of a range of guests known for their clarity of thought on the climate agenda (and more) to join me for an hour on one day for a show on each day of the conference.

Among other topics, we shall be discussing:

  • The history of the global climate agenda — the UNFCCC & COP meetings 1-26.
  • Science in the shadow of Climategate — the BBC’s resuscitation of Climategate ahead of COP26
  • Global and national green technocracies — do we need them?
  • The outlook for the UK’s Net Zero agenda — will it be enough to convince the rest of the world to follow Boris?
  • Climate Lawfare — how the green blob subverts democracy.
  • The (im)morality of the climate agenda
  • The news media’s descent into grubby propaganda
  • China and the green blob
  • British politicians’ tawdry love affair with the green movement.

I will post more details here when the dates & times with the guests have been finalised.

The livestreams will be available from my Youtube channel, and will be announced here on each day.

If you would like to support the project, please consider making a small (or large!) donation on this page.

Tune in!


Green doctors against patients

Discussion with Julia Hartley-Brewer about the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ’s) descent into green ideology.

Is there a plan?

Podcasters Alex McCarron (Escape from Lockdown) and Paul Rodriguez (State of the Markets) have a debate on the ideas in currency about whether all things Covid (and more) are the fruits of a ‘plan’ or not. Arguing that there is a plan was State of the Markets co-host, Tim Price. In the other corner was Country Squire’s James Bembridge.

The climate war has often thrown up claims of conspiracy theories. There are the cod-psychologists who have attempted to embellish elaborate theories about sceptics’ being prone to conspiracy theories — ‘ideation’, as the climate shrinks want to call it — using exotic statistical methods that are not appropriate to the tasks. Others have followed the cause of psychology as political smear-mongering — essentially libelling people who disagree with the cosy consensus of tired academe. It turns out that attacks on democracy from lofty towers that trade on defending those towers from criticism using ‘conspiracy ideation’ as a stick to beat down such criticism only expose the shortcomings of their science. It’s too easy to see it for what it is: grubby, cod psychology, recruited into political campaigns, to use the authority of academic institutions to belittle opposition to a political agenda.

Is that a conspiracy theory or is it a statement of no confidence in what is, on any reasonable analysis, a very poor science indeed, which nonetheless has political utility? Calling politically-motivated academics bullshit merchants is not a conspiracy theory. But they would maintain it is, because they believe that the Academy is the only place in which authorised thought may occur. QED.

Anyway. The response to covid has taken everyone by surprise. On many a view, lockdown and the suchlike has left far more lives in tatters than the virus. And this raises a massive question mark over what caused the response, which includes the idea that a plan of some kind must have been in effect. I initially wrote the following in response to Alex’s request for questions to the debaters. But it soon grew too long. So I’m posting it here instead. I do not believe there is a plan, and I think it is a shame that many have rushed to claim that plans — among other things — must exist, because there is no other way to explain how things have unfolded. On the other hand, the last 18 months really do require a hell of a lot of explanation.


Of course there is a plan… in the middle of the last century, the United Nations very quickly formed around the idea that national sovereignty must be heavily modified, if not entirely dismantled, and the nation state made subordinate what was candidly called ‘world government’. These ideas are clearly stated in its founding texts and in its machinations. Among its leading proponents in that era were Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein, who having urged for the creation of the atom bomb during WWII, then argued that only science could regulate global society in the aftermath of its creation. But this was an impossible dream, given the emerging geopolitics created by the bomb. The USA and USSR could not be reconciled in that way.

In fact, the idea of ‘internationalism’ preceded WWII, the bomb, and the UN – the League of Nations – and was advanced by many, including the architect of Apartheid and founder of ecological holism, Jan Smuts. That is to say that the idea of a world political order, led by Europeans (i.e. white people), founded on seemingly scientific principles of ecology preceded Greta’s emergence by some 100 years.

The idea of technocracy was well and truly established by Technocracy Inc. in the 1930s. These ideas have gripped wealthy and powerful people throughout the following century, who saw opportunities to influence designs for social organisation in their interests. Initially, they were able to influence the UN. The UN Environment Programme, for example, was established I the 1970s by oil tycoon Maurice Strong, and supported by the Rockefeller family, among other green billionaires.

However, the UN proved to be too inflexible and slow-moving for their ambitions. The raft of weirdo outfits like the WEF/Bilderberg/Trilateral were established as a parallel UN, because their convenors believed that international governance based on the cooperation of governments of sovereign nations was clumsy and outmoded. They believed that global society should be regulated by business leaders and ‘stakeholders’ – i.e. a neo-feudalism, in which democratic governments are diminished, and serfs represented only to the extent that NGOs take an interest in their lives.

Those are the plans. But the historical detail has been lost, and the rightfulness of global institutions (including Bretton Woods institutions) was first taken for granted, and then taken as the necessary solution to every conceivable ‘problem’ with a global dimension.

But of course there is no plan. Though everyone can see the problem with globalists’ designs for a new world order, some notable fantasists and blowhards have presented open, easily accessible, recorded but boring historical fact as evidence of a nefarious, secret plot. By overstating what plans are capable of, and the plotters’ abilities to assert their plots on society, a sober reading of history and the present are obscured.

The plan is the ‘great reset’. Or the plan is Satan. Or the plan is to smash planes into skyscrapers. Or the plan is to activate a modification of human bodies using nanoparticles activated by the 5G network. Or the plan is Agenda 21. These claims – and more besides – fill gaps in their authors’ historical knowledge and understanding to replace them with elaborate fantasies. They conceal an inability to explain the problem with ideologies from first principles. And the notion of a plot simply raises the question mark over the good faith of conspiracy theorists, who seem keener on promoting themselves than developing robust ideas.

The plan does not need a “plan”. Ideology establishes the basis for institutions, and institutions take opportunities to advance themselves and the ideologies on which they are founded. As sure as the maxim ‘when you’ve only got a hammer’, an institution established to protect society from novel viruses will see every new pathogen as the re-emergence of Spanish flu (or worse) and will act accordingly.

Ditto, every natural disaster will seemingly highlight the urgency of global institutions required for the amelioration of global warming. But notice that greens did not need to cause the disaster, even if they did lie about the frequency, intensity and destructive potential of extreme weather. It is green ideology, not a plot, that drives the agenda.

The ‘plan’ is the ideology. And any criticism of the ideology that requires a plot – such as a document like Agenda 21, or Schwab’s dire prose, or a plot like 911, or nanoparticles – overreaches, even if it is offered in good faith.

The questions that get neglected by a preoccupation with plots are: who the F does Bill Gates think he is? What are the competencies of global institutions? What legitimate role exists for ‘philanthropists’ in global society, and public life? Why have seemingly democratic representatives been such an open door for global projects, but at our expense? And why should we take global institutions’ (or even any institutions’) good faith for granted, and at face value?

Worse, attempting to explain that what has been ‘exposed’ is not what it seems, is prosaic or incredible, draws the ire of people who have been frankly lazy in their search for evidence and making sense of history, in otherwise well-meaning attempts to explain their sense that something is wrong. In seeking to understand the world, they may well have fallen for ideas that are no better than the WEF’s ambitions to create a dreary existence for us.

The desire for smoking-gun evidence of a plot is understandable. But even a video of Bill Gates on Epstein’s private jet, an underage girl on his knee, with a bottle of poison mislabelled ‘vaccine’ in one hand and the blueprint for 5G-enabled nanobots in the other, while explaining the whole wretched scheme to the camera, would tell us nothing. It may humiliate him, and perhaps undermine organisations that he was involved with. But others will take their place, and plots do not explain how money and power work, and how ideologies fester. It distracts from ideas about how to resolve the problem.

Let’s focus on ‘plans’ as ideology, not as plots. All of the plots that need be discovered, and that are required to understand the world were published by the conspirators and given full exposition in countless boring documents. There is no ‘truth’ to be discovered, such that the scales will fall from people’s eyes. To see a situation with clarity and perspective requires hard work, discrimination, self-reflection and criticism from friends and allies. There are no short cuts.

It’s not enough to criticise only XR’s ‘methods’

The fortnight of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests on London’s streets are drawing to a close. As with earlier protests, significant news coverage and comment has been driven by XR’s trademark tactics: although seemingly making demands of government, directing its ‘protests’ against the public by blocking roads. But while discussion is about its tactics, the opportunity for deeper reflection on what XR is, and what the absurd spectacle of so many self-regarding narcissists in fancy dress making unreasonable demands on the rest of us says about society is lost. The continued failure to meaningfully confront green ideology not only explains XR’s existence, it ensures that the backwards, anti-democratic and deeply weird green movement, XR and beyond, will linger.

‘What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want?’, asked an almost entirely uncritical BBC. It’s a good question, but one that the BBC is incapable of answering. This lack of depth to coverage was set in advance of the protest by a Newsnight ‘debate’, which asked, ‘is this form of mass action the best way to change policy?’. XR organiser, Clare Farrell claimed that ‘People will come together in mass protest’, and that they “are serious about the fact that disruptive protest does work”. Director of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), Sam Hall disagreed, ‘XR’s actions in the past and potential this action as well are going to be counter-productive’.

What this concern for a more effective protest movement demonstrates is the aversion to debate. Whereas Farrell may have vastly overestimated XR’s abilities to mobilise the public, CEN is little more than a Westminster cheese-and-wine club. Neither street-level greens nor establishment environmentalists can claim to have won the public over, yet PR tactics is the only point of difference between them. Moreover, XR and CEN are all but the same organisation. They share the same funders, who backed the project established by multimillionaire failed MP, failed London Mayoral candidate, now Lord Zac Goldsmith, to address the perception that the climate ‘movement’ is dominated by left-wing crusties, to bring the centre right into the climate camp.

Thus mainstream discussion about XR gets no deeper than discussions about ‘perception’, with the righteousness of the anti-democratic cause presupposed. At the new and usually provocative GB News, in an interview with XR co-founder Roger Hallam, Nigel Farage declared himself a lifelong and committed ‘environmentalist’.

Similarly, a forthright Mark Dolan diminished his monologue against ‘avocado-chomping numpties’ by explaining that he was ‘no climate denier’. ‘There’s plenty more to do in the UK to tackle our carbon footprint’, he said, suggesting that XR should focus their criticism on BRICS countries who have yet to fully commit to the Net Zero agenda. ‘I’m hugely excited about the possibility of millions of jobs generated and the massive potential long-term income created for the country by embracing eco technologies’, he claimed elsewhere. Really? What ‘eco technologies’? There are none.

The problem with this reluctance to commit to criticism of XR without caveats or apology is that it leaves nobody any the wiser as to when and how a categorically crazy argument becomes… what… Sensible? Commentators obsess over agreeing with XR’s aims, but not their methods. But is there really such a distinction to be made? Are establishment greens any more grounded in reality than their scruffy counterparts? At what point between a protester and a climate technocrat does reason enter the climate camp? Both will obstruct traffic, but only one will get moved on by Police.

That something as absurd as XR exists to champion the cause should be a fatal embarrassment to all green politics. What passes for their political argument, philosophical grounding or connection with a broader constituency is no deeper than their absurd, hackneyed situationism – petty vandalism thinly disguised as naff street theatre. XR cannot pass as a movement of people that are capable of understanding what they demand, because it’s not plausible. They are too obviously seen as hypocrites, bearing only manifestly impossible and unreasonable demands, such as the imposition of Net Zero by 2025, and the subordination of representative democracy to Citizen’s Assemblies – ideas that would more likely create civil war than ecological Utopia. Accordingly, it should be embarrassing to sympathise with XR’s aims to any degree.

It is to widespread confusion that XR continue to make demands to a government that is not only in total agreement with its aims, it has already conceded to them. The group formed in Autumn 2018, and within months, they had met with then Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, and had given “evidence” to Select Committees. By the end of 2019, Parliament had declared a climate emergency, raised the targets of the 2008 Climate Change Act from 80% to Net Zero, and convened the Climate Assembly, which met the following year – all apparently in response to XR’s demands and pressed ahead without any semblance of broader public support for them.

There are no sensible ‘aims’ that are divorced from XR’s ‘methods’ to speak of. XR’s aims are to put an intolerable burden on people, to restrict their mobility and material freedoms and impose huge costs on them… Exactly the same as their methods. And with the near-total agreement of the establishment. Thus, any TV commentator agreeing with the ‘aims’ of any part of the green agenda commits to something they simply do not understand.

That perhaps sounds unfair, but the quality of climate-warriors’ arguments do not improve as one moves away from lunatic activists up through the ranks of the political establishment and scientific institutions. Arguably, the absurdity increases.

Take, for example, the appointment by the UN and UK government of David Attenborough as ‘People’s Advocate’ at the upcoming COP26 climate meeting. Attenborough, patron of the neomalthusian campaigning organisation, Population Matters (pka The Optimum Population Trust) is categorically anti-people, as he revealed in a 2013 rant in which he claimed humans have become a ‘plague on the Earth’. ‘We keep putting on {television} programmes about famine in Ethiopia. Too many people there’. Not only was this callous claim wholly ignorant of Ethiopia (which has half the population density of the UK) and its conflicts, it was ignorant of the BBC’s schedule too. In the week that Attenborough made his comments, the BBC showed 14 nature and wildlife programmes and none about Ethiopia. Attenborough has starred in more BBC films than the BBC has made films about famine in Ethiopia. Appointing Attenborough as ‘People’s Advocate’ is as absurd as calling Harold Shipman a ‘pensioners’ advocate’.

Parliament’s virtue-signalling declaration of a ‘Climate Emergency’ was absurd.

Parliament’s passing the Net Zero target, establishing the limits of three decades of policy after just 90 minutes of non-debate, with no idea how to achieve the objective, let alone how to pay for it, let alone without asking the public for consent for the agenda heaped absurdity upon absurdity upon absurdity.

The sight of politicians and world leaders prostrating before a teenage truant is absurd.

UN Secretary General António Guterres declaring ‘a code red for humanity’ following the release of the IPCC’s most recent report was an absurdly alarmist interpretation that owes nothing to any science the report contained.

This emphasis on establishment environmentalism’s absurdities is not merely an argument from incredulity. At the heart of the green perspective is the notion that society’s past can be explained and its future defined by weather, and that civilisation was and is only possible because a favourable and ‘stable’ climate exists.

It has never been true – civilisation exists across a vast range of climatic circumstances, many of them ‘extreme’ relative to others. And as all metrics of human welfare demonstrate by a wide margin, society has never been less vulnerable to extreme weather or any other challenge from “nature”. The central proposition of environmentalism and climate policy is manifestly absurd.

Whereas we might expect institutional science to correct green ideological hyperbole, if they aren’t indulging in it, scientists’ voices fall silent. ‘Transformation is required at every level of society’, wrote UK Chief Scientific Advisor, Patrick Vallance. ‘This is a whole systems challenge. Tackling it will require a systemic approach.’

But transforming society is manifestly the domain of politics, not science. And even within that domain, the extent to which the government and its appointed officials are free to use their power to transform society must be limited and contested, rather than taken for granted, or the consequence is tyranny. The failure of institutional science and its chief scientists to see that they have been recruited into a political project that demands the surrender of democracy to fearmongers is absurd. It is an absurdity far more grotesque than anything XR have staged.

You only need to wander to any climate protest to find exactly the same vapid slogan that Vallance utters so glibly. ‘System change, not climate change’ – on every banner and T-shirt. But what does it mean? Does Vallance really know? Does XR know? I doubt that they do.

XR’s ridiculousness then, by comparison to establishment environmentalism, is understandable. They are responding to, and are the victims of, an unopposed absurdity of epic proportions. And, though annoying, XR are not capable of inflicting on society as much harm as Chief Scientific Advisors, UN Secretary Generals, degenerate Parliaments and wholly incompetent governments. The fact that none of its advocates are able or willing to explain what is the ‘system’ that we must submit to without question or debate and without democratic process, is absurd.

Put simply: if you think XR obstructions are an irritant, wait until you see Net Zero. The seemingly sensible ‘aims’ of XR as espoused by the entire political establishment, and their favoured ‘eco technologies’ are going to leave you immobilised, in a cold home, jobless, and deep in the red forever. Many people are going to be killed or injured, and have their lives diminished and reduced, not by XR protests, but by their ‘aims’.

XR is merely what obedience to absurdity looks like. Its activists have suspended reason, judgement and apparently their own interests. That should signify a warning, because something darker lies beneath XR’s persistence than agreement between them and the establishment.

In the aftermath of the shockwaves caused by the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump, the green project needed to be reformulated. A growing resistance to global ambitions, which threatened the green agenda was developing, and needed to be overcome.

Central to this reformulation was the work of founder and director of US-based The Climate Mobilization project, clinical psychologist, Margaret Klein Salamon.  She is credited with inspiring XR, Greta Thunberg and her schools strike movement, and the Sunrise movement. A 2016 paper by Klein Salamon called ‘Leading the Public into Emergency Mode’ used her insights from clinical psychology, not to help people overcome irrational and false fears, but to instead engender fear and anxiety, especially in children. By first fostering a sense of panic in a core constituency, a political movement could ‘effectively trigger emergency mode in others’. Panic begets panic, as everyone who claims to be against shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theatre claims to understand. Says Klein Salamon,

In this paper, I will introduce the concept of “emergency mode” which is how individuals and groups function optimally during an existential or moral crisis — often achieving great feats through intensely focused motivation. I will argue that the goal of the climate movement must be to lead the public out of “normal” mode and into emergency mode.

This has huge implications for the climate movement’s communication style, advocacy, and strategy. Because emergency mode is contagious, the best strategy is for climate activists and organizations to go into emergency mode themselves, and communicate about the climate emergency, the need for emergency mobilization, and the fact that they are in emergency mode, as clearly and emphatically as possible.

And so central to this ambition of aligning British society with environmentalism’s goals is the notion that a ‘war footing’ can be established – a reference to the apocryphal ‘wartime spirit’, that seemingly united the country against a deadly foe. Not coincidentally, XR founder Gail Bradbrook, when giving evidence to Parliament, repeatedly cited a sloppy WWII mythology to MPs…

Imagine there’s twenty Hitlers… you know, ‘cos this is far worse than one Hitler… twenty Hitlers lined up… and the British people would say, “no no no, we won’t do anything ‘til twenty-fifty… I just can’t actually imagine that would happen.

Bradbrook believed, per Klein Salamon’s hypothesis, that she could shout “TWENTY HITLERS!” at the British public, and the entire nation would jump up in response  to shout, “WHERE?”, and LO! The wartime spirit would have been synthesised, the world would come together to tackle the greatest ever threat facing mankind! Twenty Hitlers would have been defeated and the world would be a better place.

Such are the delusions of people who take LSD and call it ‘therapy’. Literally.

The top of Klein Salamon’s paper, again not coincidentally foreshadowing Thunberg, asks ‘Imagine there is a fire in your house’, before stating, falsely, ‘Humanity is careening towards the deaths of billions of people, millions of species, and the collapse of organized civilization.’ The overtly panic-mongering treatise drew the attention of the usual suspect eco-billionaires, who funded projects based on the idea, including XR, and of course the Climate Mobilization project, which states

A whole-society transformation.

To protect communities across the world from the Climate Emergency, we need a radical solution: a whole-society mobilization of people and resources to restore a safe climate.

Mobilization is an emergency restructuring of a modern industrial economy, accomplished at rapid speed. It involves the vast majority of citizens, the utilization of a very high proportion of available resources, and impacts all areas of society – nothing less than a government-coordinated social and industrial revolution.

Which is exactly what Vallance ordered, isn’t it.

But we should not constrain our focus on this absurdity to understand what’s going on.

Such attempts to mobilise campaigns through fearmongering are of course, not new. Since the end of the Cold War, western governments have embarked on three major political projects, each of which at face value claim to make the world a better place and protect domestic populations from risk. Terrorism, climate change, and latterly the Covid 19 pandemic have each been presented as causes that demand urgent action.

But as recent weeks have shown, twenty years of War on Terror have not made the world, or us, any safer – a fact which was predictable as it was predicted.

Though there can be little doubt that terrorists exist, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and coronaviruses pose risks to the elderly and infirm, questions about foreign policy, the effectiveness of lockdowns, and the reasoning behind climate policy are always met with the same response: the development of consensus on these issues by amplification of fearmongering, an escalation of smear-mongering, and exclusion and censorship of inconvenient analyses.

To question the proportionality of responses to extant problems is to be a Saddam apologist, to wish death on old people, to be a denier. Yet history has proven early critics of aimless, incautious, and deeply corrupt and corrupting western foreign policy to have been correct. $trillions have been wasted. Thousands of young men have lost limbs or lives. Countless thousands of non-combatants have been caught in the crossfire, and made victims of increasingly savage Islamofascism – a movement that arguably did not exist before the War on Terror created the power vacuum that it stepped into.

Ditto, governments have created far-reaching new powers for themselves, which they are never going to withdraw. Yet critics have pointed out that lockdowns and other interventions are hugely expensive, destroying countless livelihoods and jobs, and are neither necessary nor effective. The UK government’s response to these perspectives was not open, transparent, democratic debate between experts in the full light of public, but was a secretive smear campaign against the scientists who had spoken out of turn.

The fear-mongering and smear-mongering against critics of the climate agenda needs no rehearsal here. Suffice it to say that what unites these three urgent, global causes is that a response to them, in each case requires the transformation of society – the suspension of democracy, the reformulation of the relationship between individuals and the state, and the rollback of ancient rights and hard-won freedoms – just as Vallance, using ‘science’ as a fig leaf, demands.

This is how politics is done in the twenty-first century. Fear and smear. The War on Terror, Lockdowns, and Net Zero are the new normal. And they are already firmly established. The direction has been set. Democracy, criticism and debate are not required. Society is being transformed on the basis that its transformers know better than the transformees, and therefore do not require consent for their projects – even if they require a little bit of nudging, here and there… And the brighter ones need a little bit of smearing every now and then, just to keep things in order.

Society has been unable to confront green ideology because the political establishment is wholly invested in it as much as it is with other ‘urgent’ issues that require them to grant themselves ever more power, and to protect it from democracy. XR are just one, and perhaps a trivial consequence of this failure – a sideshow, which lingers, because even their critics have not understood that XR’s aims and its methods are identical, and that there exists no sensible departure from XR’s methods in the establishment’s aims. Greta said it herself: ‘I want you to panic’. She was reading from a script that had been written several years earlier by Klein Salaman, which was itself written in response to a global political project’s – one of many – standoff against democracy.

So when you hear journalists and TV presenters claim that they agree with XR’s aims but not its methods, that is what they are committed to. They may not know it, but that is the reality beyond XR. XR’s tactics are a distraction from its aims. There is nothing sensible beyond XR’s protests to agree with. They want you to panic, rather than think, because there is nothing sensible beyond XR’s protests to agree with. They do not want society’s consent for its transformation, only its obedience. Do not let anyone tell you that XR’s aims and its methods can be understood as distinct things, nor even that XR exist as a distinct part of the climate movement. They are not well-intentioned but slightly odd people; they have suspended all judgement, to make themselves the agents of fear and panic in the service of an anti-democratic ideological movement.

The Anti-Democratic Climate Assembly

I have written a report on the UK Climate Assembly for the Global Warming Policy Forum, published today. Here’s the press release.

London, 29 January: The UK Climate Assembly, which claimed to have delivered a mandate for a green revolution, could not have delivered a mandate of any kind, according to a new analysis published by the Global Warming Policy Forum.

According to the report’s author, Ben Pile, the Assembly was set up to deliver a preordained result:

“It was in no way a democratic process. Almost everyone involved with convening the assembly, and almost everyone who spoke to it, was involved with environmental campaigning to some extent. Most can be linked to a small group of wealthy environmental funders.”

Pile says that the Assembly was actually set up because the public were unpersuaded of the case for radical action.

“Politicians agreed the net zero target without debate and at best lukewarm public support. The Assembly was an attempt to provide a justification for strong policy measures, but it is ridiculous to suggest that a project like this could deliver some sort of a mandate. The assembly was an attempt to sidestep the democratic process.”

You can download the report here.

I wrote a fair bit more than is in the report. A few sections which didn’t make the final cut was some discussion about the background to the Climate Change Act. As I have long argued here, MPs have put all their horses before all their cars: they believed that they could generate public support for their policies after they had been turned into law, and they believed that the technology required to make their plans a reality required laws to make them viable. Here is a passage summarising that view.

The problem of public opinion vs cross-party consensus

Public opinion has long beset politicians’ climate policy ambitions. In December 2008, then Environment Secretary in the Labour government, Ed Miliband is quoted in the Telegraph,

“When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes, to anti-apartheid, to sexual equality in the 1960s, all the big political movements had popular mobilization. Maybe it’s an odd thing for someone in government to say, but I just think there’s a real opportunity and a need here”[i].

Miliband’s frustration that climate policies lacked popular support was surprising first for its coincidence with climate activist group, Plane Stupid’s occupation of Stanstead Airport runway, which pitched green activists against the public. Second, it came just days after the Climate Change Act had received Royal Assent on the 26th November 2008. The Bill’s almost entirely unopposed passage through Parliament contrasted with the public’s lack of interest. But Miliband’s concern was pragmatic, rather than for the democratic deficit created by legislation with such far-reaching consequences. Government now faced the prospect either of having to persuade people to ‘Act on CO2’ – as  government campaigns to communicate “the seriousness of climate change to the public through TV, press, radio and online advertising” put it[ii], or enforcing draconian legislation on an unwilling population.

Celebratory accounts of the history of the Climate Change Act reveal that Friends of the Earth (FoE) had produced a draft Climate Change Bill in 2005, organised around the principle of a “top-down” carbon-emissions “budget”, reducing each year[iii] [iv]. The group had organised a campaign, the “Big Ask”, in which 200,000 people wrote to MPs asking them to support the bill. Consequently, an Early Day Motion in the next Parliamentary session drew the support of 412 MPs[v].

Though impressive, 200,000 letters are fewer in number than the votes won by Green Party candidates in that year’s general election. Moreover, by the standards of the era, this sum is dwarfed by other demonstrations of public will, such as the 2003 anti-war marches, which drew crowds estimated between 1 and 2 million[vi].

This contrast is significant to understanding the development of flagship policies of the era, which is characterised by a tendency towards voter apathy. From a relative high of 77.7 per cent in 1992, General Election turnout fell to 59.4 in 2001 rising only slightly to 61.4 in 2005. The candid history of the development of the Climate Change Act offered by its designers[vii] explains that a Labour Party under new leadership was keen to draw a line under its recent history. Similarly, the Conservative Party, also under new leadership, was keen to ‘detoxify’ its image. Parties competed to champion the seemingly safe ground of ‘saving the planet’, in an era regarded by many as politically sterile.

In this era, government and oppositions parties, and public bodies drew heavily from campaigning organisations to formulate policies and to promote them to the public. In 2006, then new leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, held a press conference at Greenpeace’s London headquarters at which he told journalists, “I passionately believe that a greener world will actually be a safer world”[viii]. Nearly nine years later, the consensus between green organisations and political parties was cemented by Parliamentary lobbying campaign, the Green Alliance, which asked party leaders to sign a pledge, committing to “work together, across party lines, to agree carbon budgets in accordance with the Climate Change Act”[ix].

The political problem of this was identified in 2006 by Professor Mike Hulme of the UEA and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. On Hulme’s view, campaigning organisations, politicians and scientists, “are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change”, concluding that “The language of fear and terror operates as an ever-weakening vehicle for effective communication or inducement for behavioural change”[x]. And just as Hulme observed, climate alarmism failed to align the public with the political consensus.

To the extent that the 2005-2015 era can be characterised by the public’s political appetites, it was manifestly defined, not by the urgent cause of saving the planet, but on the question of Britain’s membership of the European Union. The 2008 Climate Change Act received almost unanimous support from MPs, but on the basis of little public pressure. Politicians, struggling with their parties’ images in an era of disaffection and disengagement, instead seem to have been persuaded by campaigning organisations to create far-reaching policies that now exist on the wrong side of a democratic deficit. With no sense of the public’s willingness to accept draconian policies, this deficit created a climate policy impasse, which was further eclipsed by Brexit, leading to green campaigning organisations’ impatience.

[i] Ed Miliband urges ‘popular mobilisation’ to tackle climate change. The Telegraph. 8 December 2008.

[ii] About ACT ON CO2.

[iii] The Big Ask: How you helped make climate change history. Friends of the Earth. 2017.

[iv] The Climate Change Act (2008). Institute for Government. 2018.

[v] CLIMATE CHANGE EDM #178. UK Parliament. May 2005.

[vi] Iraq war 10 years on: mass protest that defined a generation. The Guardian. February 2015.

[vii] Bryony Worthington speaking at the CDKN Action Lab. Youtube. April 2011.

[viii] David Cameron goes up on the roof at Greenpeace. Youtube.

[ix] Cameron, Clegg and Miliband sign joint climate change agreement. The Green Alliance. February 2015.

[x] Chaotic world of climate truth. Mike Hulme. BBC. November 2006.