Global Warming Policy Foundation

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Please note, this page has been archived since 2011 and will not be updated. 

The Global Warming Policy Foundation was formed in November 2009. Coincidentally this was at the height of media interest in the 'Climategate' scandal, in which emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia were hacked and published.

Dr Benny Peiser is the director of the foundation, which has a stated aim of "bring[ing] reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant". Spokespeople from the GWPF have been quoted extensively in the media. The GWPF is registered as an educational charity.

The foundation's Board of Trustees include its chairman, the Conservative former energy minister and chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson; Lord Barnett and Lord Donoughue of the Labour party; and Baroness (Emma) Nicholson of the Liberal Democrats. Other Trustees include Sir Martin Jacomb, former chancellor of Britain's first private university, the University of Buckingham; the Rt Rev Peter Forster the Bishop of Chester; and Lord Turnbull, a former Cabinet Secretary and former Head of the Home Civil Service.

The foundation also has an Academic Advisory Council, which is chaired by Professor David Henderson, a fellow of the neo-liberal thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Members include the Telegraph's consulting editor on science Adrian Berry (Vicount Camrose); Sir Samuel Brittan, an economic commentator for the Financial Times; and Matthew Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist.

Bob Ward, of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, has stated:

"Some of those names are straight from the Who's Who of current climate change sceptics. To me, this is pretty much indistinguishable from the websites that are run by rightwing, free-market thinktanks in the US. It's just going to be a way of pumping material into the debate that hasn't been through scrutiny".

It is not clear who funds the foundation. The GWPF has an expected annual budget of £200,000, and has been actively seeking a consultant fundraiser. The GWPF has informed the charity commission in writing that "[the GWPF] will not accept donations from energy companies or from individuals with a significant interest in oil companies." The foundation has also stated that any donation greater than £50,000 will be "referred to the trustees for approval." To date the GWPF has declined to reveal the source of seed donations of £50,000.

Lord Lawson, author of An Appeal to Reason, A Cool Look at Global Warming, registered the charity, registered its website address and shares its lawyers, Farrer & Co. The GWPF has offices with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. When questioned by MPs during the Science and Technology committee inquiry into the CRU emails, Lord Lawson refused to say who had donated to the foundation. He said when asked: "In football this is called playing the man and not the ball. You get a yellow card for that." He has been quoted by the website Left Foot Forward as stating the seed donor is "a private individual, who wished to remain anonymous."

Lord Lawson is chairman of Central Europe Trust Ltd, which on its website states it represents clients including BP Amoco, Texaco and Royal Dutch/Shell Group. This prompted Lord Prescott to say in Parliament of the foundation:  "From what I can see of it, it is not so much a thinktank as a petrol tank." Lawson has said that there are no links between the foundation and his chairmanship. In a letter responding to Lord Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, dated November 2009, he states: "[CET Ltd] has not, in fact, had any oil company clients for many years now, and at the present time its only involvement in the energy sector is a small interest in wind and other renewables."

The foundation has been quoted widely in the media since its inception. Most statements made question the wisdom of policy designed to mitigate climate change, or challenge the robustness of climate science practice. The spokespeople for the foundation are Lord Lawson and Dr Benny Peiser.

There have been some questions about the credibility of the Global Warming Policy foundation as a balanced arbiter of climate science. Dr Peiser was quoted in the Times on December 1, 2009 criticising NASA research in the following terms: "The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it's very cold, it doesn't seem to be warming. We're very concerned that 100-year policies are being made on the basis of these predictions." Days later Dr Peiser was quoted in the Guardian stating: "We are certainly not taking a critical stance on the basic science of the greenhouse effect or the fact that CO2 emissions in the atmosphere are having an effect on climate."

The robustness of information supplied by the foundation has also been challenged. A graphic used on the website at the launch of the foundation was criticized for showing an inaccurate temperature in 2003. Although now corrected, the graphic still present on the website shows a decline in temperature from 2001 to 2008; misrepresenting the overall trend in rising temperatures by cherry-picking just a few years of data to create a negative trend. The first decade in this century was in fact the warmest decade in the instrumental record, containing six of the hottest years on record.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation published a review of the three separate independent inquiries into the University of East Anglia emails, which they commissioned Andrew Montford, author of the The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science, to write for a fee of £3000. Montford, a chartered accountant, stated at the launch of the publication: "I'm partisan in this argument. There is no denying that."

There are a number of links between the GWPF and the University of Buckingham, Britain's first private university. The university was founded with the assistance of neo-liberal thinktank The Institute of Economic Affairs, which provided the "intellectual framework for the creation of Buckingham as a university". Sir Martin Jacomb is on the Board of Trustees for the foundation and was until earlier this year chancellor of the university. Dr Terence Kealey who sits on the academic advisory council of the foundation, is vice-chancellor of the university. Dr Peiser is a visiting fellow at the university. Philipp Mueller, who has been recently employed by the foundation as assistant director and is responsible for media enquiries,  graduated from the University of Buckingham with an MA from the Global Affairs Programme.