Conservative energy and Climate Change minister, Matthew Hancock, has taken £18,000 from a key backer of the UK’s leading climate sceptic lobbying group. If that appears to represent a conflict of interests then you would be right with that assumption. How can someone on a committee designed to fight climate change stay impartial if they are receiving money from the other side?
With the release of official records, Hancock has been shown to have accepted five donations over the years from City currency manager, Neil Record. Record has given money to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and is on the board of its campaigning arm.
The most recent donation to the MP was £4,000 given in November last year, for those who are wondering this was after Hancock was given his position as a minister, with responsibility for energy.
Record has, separately from this donation, given more than £300,000 to the Conservative party. Hancock is the only individual MP that he has backed, according to the Electoral Commission.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation, chaired by former Conservative chancellor, Lord Nigel Lawson, is well known for casting doubt on established climate change science. The deliberate nature of assault against facts can only be seen as an attempt to service business interests; there is simply too much scientific data proving climate change for there to be any other reason to stand against it.
In September, Record and Lord Nigel Vinson were the first two backers of the organisation to confirm their contributions after years of speculation about who was financing the outfit.
When the Global Warming Policy Foundation was found to have breached Charity Commission rules on impartiality, Record was made a board member of its new non-charitable campaigning arm, the Global Warming Policy Forum. A technical escape which now means the campaigning arm is able to work more openly against those stating climate change as a fact.
The link between Record and Hancock was uncovered by Greenpeace, whose director John Sauven said it further undermined the government’s record on climate change. “It says something that we have an energy and climate change minster who hates wind, loves fracking, and accepts large sums of cash from a central figure in a climate sceptic lobby group,” he said.
Asked whether Hancock had ever discussed energy policy with Record, or even declared the link to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, a spokeswoman for the minister said, rather evasively, “All donations are declared publicly and proper process followed.”
Record made a stronger statement however, saying he never discussed energy policy with Hancock but confirmed his view that the science of climate change is not “settled” are well-known. “Over the past several years I have provided some research support for Matthew Hancock, in my view an impressive 2010-entry MP,” he said. He would continue by saying, “I resolved to do this when Matthew was a backbencher, and since then Matthew has had several ministerial responsibilities, and only recently has energy become part of his portfolio. I have never discussed energy policy or climate change with Matthew. Our discussions tend to centre round our mutual interest in economics, we both started our careers as economists at the Bank of England.”
He also went on to reaffirm his views on climate change, saying they were already a matter of public record. “I believe that the important scientific enquiry required for us to understand man’s effect on the climate is being hampered by a monolithic ‘establishment’ view that the science is settled,” Record said.
Record added that he believes some of the “current popular political choices for carbon reduction wind; solar in high latitudes, are woefully inefficient and unsustainable, because they require subsidies to exist at all”. That statement however is only partially true considering the transparent solar panel breakthrough, and the increased usage of renewable sources.
Caroline Flint, Labour’s shadow energy and climate change secretary, also said it showed “why the Tories can’t tackle climate change and have zero credibility on this issue”.
“Matt Hancock, the minister for energy and climate change, has reportedly taken money from someone linked to the country’s biggest propagandists of climate change scepticism,” she said. She would continue by saying, “The Tory party all the way to the top are not the right people to negotiate a better deal for the world to tackle climate change.”
Hancock was last week criticised by green campaigners for hiring a private jet to fly himself back to London from Aberdeen after signing a climate change deal with the Mexican president.