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Paterson, Lawson and the GWPF

global warming planet earthGone, but in no way does he want to be forgotten…

After one of the most damning précis of a political career and an unceremonious sacking as environment secretary, committed climate change sceptic Owen Paterson has threatened that he will not be silenced as a backbencher and will continue his crusade to prove the myth that he sees is climate change.

After his ineffectual response to the catastrophic flooding during the winter, Paterson’s sacking was only surprising in the time it took to happen, but despite his damning send off from John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace, Paterson is not going quietly.

Sauven said:

“If history remembers him, it will not be kind.

“An ideological attachment to climate change denial saw him sack people working on flood defences just when we needed them most.

“When his own scientists tried to brief him, he refused to hear them out.

“Hopefully his successor will have an affinity for evidence-based policy-making. Mr. Paterson most certainly did not.”

Already he has found a ready audience however, this time in the Global Policy Warming Foundation (GPWF), the UK’s ‘leading’ climate sceptic organization.

It’s a moot point whether a climate change cynic should be called the ‘environment’ secretary and equally whether a band of climate change deniers should be called the ‘Global Policy Warming Foundation’ but clearly there is some logic somewhere.

Naming conventions aside, Lord Nigel Lawson’s foundation embraces leading sceptics to provide keynote speeches to willing audiences.

The foundation is not without controversy however with the scant boundary between charity (for that is what the GPWF calls itself) and political lobbying having been criticised. Now though the GPWF has committed to separating its lobbying activities through the creation of the similarly titled ‘Global Policy Warming Forum ‘.

However, back to Paterson, if his new role in after dinner speaking doesn’t work out at least he can make a career out of memorable quotes both from his own mouth and others who are lining up to smother him in criticism.

Ben Stewart at Greenpeace UK said:

“Some people would say that for the last two years Paterson has been delivering a rolling 24/7 lecture for the GWPF. Maybe it’s for the best that he’s come out of the closet and formalised the relationship.”

Paterson himself has said, whilst in office:

“People get very emotional about [climate change] and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.”

Or the denial of all denials in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary:

“The climate has not changed. The temperature hasn’t changed in 17 years.”

Or the unfounded and ill-informed:

“The measures that we take to counter climate change may cause more damage than they gain.”

If the ridicule of denying the obvious is not enough a search in the back catalogue of diatribes from GWPF members makes fun reading:

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard calmly opined:

“[Those calling for climate change action are] alarmists [and] zealots [for whom] the cause has become a substitute religion”

Then there is former Czech president, Václav Klaus who helpfully contributed:

“The widespread acceptance of the global warming dogma has become one of the main, most costly and most undemocratic public policy mistakes in generations. The previous one was communism.”

And Australia Catholic Cardinal George Pell, who endearingly told all that:

“[Global warming has] stopped”


“[That carbon dioxide is] not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life”

And a personal favourite insight into the laws of nature with:

“[If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was doubled the] plants would love it”

Given Lawson’s stated intent for the GPWF was to be “open-minded on the contested science of global warming” but “deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated” it’s interesting to see the audience and opinions of those who deliver his keynote speeches.

In perhaps the most succinct response, Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner said:

“This is beyond satire, and confirms that Owen Paterson was never fit to hold the post of Environment Secretary.

“Liz Truss [the new Environment Secretary] must make a clean break with her predecessor by backing urgent action to slash emissions, and by speaking to scientists and experts – not the climate quacks at the GWPF.”

To imagine that in the light of all evidence to the contrary these people held high office and in some case the highest offices in their countries would be hilarious if it wasn’t so worrying. There are two sides to climate change, one that overplays and one that downplays, but there is no place for unfounded denial on what we only need to look out the window to see the evidence of.


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