MPs Confront Climate Sceptics Over “Unlawful Distortion”

MPs have challenged the Charity Commission’s handling of its Global Warming Policy Foundation investigation, alleging unlawful delay and highlighting concerns over the think tank’s climate scepticism. Here’s the full story. 

Hard to Ignore

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As the world continues to heat up, and this spring is already set to see more record-breaking weather events, from heat waves to intense storms up and down the UK, the fact that the world is seeing the effects of the climate catastrophe is becoming harder and harder to ignore. 

How Much Money to Make This Go Away?

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However, there are still some holdouts, think tanks and conspiracy theorists with large audiences, who also usually have suspicious levels of funding from fossil fuel billionaires, who insist that climate change is a hoax.

97% Consensus

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This is in stark contrast to the 97% of scientists who, according to NASA, are sure that the changes we can see becoming more prevalent are caused by one thing—humans and our rapacious appetite for fossil fuels. 

Legal Challenge

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Recently, the Charity Commission has found itself embroiled in a legal challenge with Members of Parliament over its handling of an investigation into one such think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), known for its skepticism towards climate science of all stripes.

Lobbying Disguised as Charity

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The commission has accused it of acting unlawfully in addressing the serious concerns raised about the GWPF’s charitable status. The MPs accuse the GWPF of being a lobbying organization disguised as a charity. 

Good Law Project

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Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, Labour’s Clive Lewis, and Green MP Caroline Lucas, along with the support of the Good Law Project, have initiated a legal challenge against the Charity Commission. 

Unanswered Complaint

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The MPs filed a complaint in October 2022, questioning the GWPF’s charitable status. However, despite repeated inquiries from the MPs, the Charity Commission provided only preliminary updates in November 2022, January 2023, February 2023, and September 2023.

18 Months Previously

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The Charity Commission claimed that, despite the complaint being lodged 18 months previously, it was still only in the opening stages of its investigation. 

Foot Dragging

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In response to the Charity Commission’s apparent foot-dragging, the MPs have argued strenuously that the Charity Commission is in breach of its legal obligations. 

“Unlawful Distortion”

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The MPs have argued that the delay is an “unlawful distortion of the public debate regarding the most pressing issue of our time.”

Breaches of Charity Law

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According to their legal letter, the commission’s inaction undermines the urgency of addressing potential breaches of charity law by the GWPF and its trustees.

One Sided Research

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The original complaint against the GWPF accused it of violating charity laws by allocating significant funds towards one-sided research and supporting its subsidiary, Net Zero Watch, in campaigning against climate policies. 

Tax Benefits

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This allegation suggests that the GWPF engages in non-charitable lobbying under the guise of charitable activities, thereby exploiting tax benefits while influencing public opinion on the climate crisis.

Avoiding Tax

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The Good Law Project has stressed the implications of charitable funds being diverted to illegal lobbying activities, which would allow the GWPF to avoid paying the total tax required. 

“Very Gently”

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The GWPF was set up by former Conservative Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who argued against the scientific consensus by stating that climate change is “happening very gently at a fraction of a degree per decade, which is something we can perfectly well live with.”

“Dangerous Climate Denial”

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Ian Browne, representing the Good Law Project, stated, “While the Charity Commission sits on this complaint, GWPF can keep peddling it’s dangerous climate denial while enjoying both the boost to its reputation and the tax advantages of being an educational charity.”

“Damaging Public Trust”

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He continued, “The regulator’s refusal to act is damaging public trust in the charity sector and is a kick in the teeth for the thousands of organizations that scrupulously stick to the rules.”

Suspicious Silence

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The GWPF has remained silent on the issue. Still, when asked previously about the Charity Commission’s investigation, a spokesperson commented, “It is right and proper that non-charitable activities are not funded by charitable donations, and we take great care to ensure this does not happen.”


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They continued, “Any suggestion to the contrary, or attack on the academic credibility of the foundation’s publications, is unfounded. We will, as always, cooperate fully with any questions the Charity Commission considers it appropriate to ask of us.”

“Due Care Takes Time”

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A Charity Commission spokesperson only confirmed that an investigation was ongoing, stating, “A regulatory compliance case was opened into the Global Warming Policy Foundation when an ‘open letter’ of complaint was received in 2022. During this time, we have been constructively engaging with trustees on the issues raised. We plan to publicly report on the outcome of the case once it has been concluded. Scrutinizing the available evidence thoroughly and with due care takes time.”

Koch Brothers

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As a charity, the GWPF does not have to reveal its funding sources. However, according to OpenDemocracy, the GWPF has taken money from the Koch brothers, fossil fuel billionaires based in the US who often lobby for climate skepticism and, more broadly, right-wing causes. 

Growing Scrutiny

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The legal challenge mounted by MPs against the Charity Commission underscores the growing scrutiny of organizations like the GWPF, whose protestations of innocence are starting to ring a little hollow for some. 

Bottomless Pockets

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Unfortunately, when it comes to the planet’s destruction, the people, organizations, and think tanks that want to argue that everything is okay and that we should “keep burning oil, please” often have bottomless pockets, which can buy them a lot of connections. 

The post MPs Confront Climate Sceptics Over “Unlawful Distortion” first appeared on Swift Feed.

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