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Wed 11 December 2019
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New analysis by DeSmog reveals the Prime Minister as the Conservative MP who has received the most donations from individuals and companies actively lobbying against action on climate change.


The Conservative Party is by far the preferred destination for political donations from the most polluting individuals and corporations and those that fund climate science denial campaigns in the UK. And it’s starting to show in its campaign promises.

That’s not just stipulation – the data bears it out. The Tories received more than £5 million in donations from backers of climate science denial over the past decade, according to analysis by DeSmog. The party and its MPs have received 94% of all the donations from individuals and companies that actively lobby against climate action in the UK since 2002. In contrast, the Liberal Democrats received £2,000 over the same period. Labour? £0.

The MP who received the most from these sources? Boris Johnson – the man who once looked at his window, saw it was snowing again and decided that the sun must be to blame for the uncharacteristically cold weather rather than decades of fossil fuel use filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

It’s not just climate science deniers that are backing the Tories, though, it’s also major polluters – many of whom are part of the Tory donor club known as the ‘Leaders Group’. The entry price to become a member of this elite set is a minimum of £50,000. Recent members include Ayman Asfari, chief executive of Jersey-registered oil services provider Petrofrac, which is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office; Ian Roper Taylor, chairman of oil trader Vitol, which is also being dragged through the courts; and Amjad Bseisu, chief executive of oil company Enquest, and a prominent voice calling for the UK to extract every last drop of North Sea oil and to hell with what climate scientists say.

These fossil fuel magnates have donated millions to the Conservative Party. Why? Because those currently running the Tory show are more than willing to put profit before planet.

On the current Conservative frontbench are a number of individuals who simply don’t think that the climate crisis is a particularly big deal, even if scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, World Meteorological Organisation, and UN Environment Programme keep telling them otherwise.

Brexiter-in-chief, Jacob Rees-Mogg, claims that the impact of carbon dioxide on climate change remains “much debated” (it isn’t). He also happens to have millions invested in oil and coal mining through his investment management firm, Somerset Capital.

Former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has spent much of the past three years trying to get the UK to put its environmental regulations on the negotiating table to secure future trade deals with major polluters such as India and China. Fox also happens to have received multiple donations from backers of climate science denial in the UK, including hedge fund manager Michael Hintze and co-owner of Bristol Port Terence Mordaunt.

And then there’s Nadim Zahawi, a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Tory MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, who has received more than £1 million in payments and donations from fossil fuel companies since entering the House of Commons since 2010.

In order to “get Brexit done” his way, Boris Johnson also had to make a pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which is riddled with climate science deniers. Keeping these groupies happy comes at a cost. Not to the Tories (quite the opposite), but to the planet. 

It’s why the Conservative Party’s manifesto was the only one to proudly back the ongoing extraction of fossil fuels in the North Sea. It’s why a much-vaunted party announcement to “ban” fracking was quickly and radically caveated. And it’s why the Tories have the least ambitious emissions reduction target of any party – aiming to go ‘net zero’ 20 years later than others.

Perhaps all this baggage explains why Johnson is refusing to turn up to a leaders debate on the climate emergency.


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