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UK environment secretary took donation from funder of climate sceptic thinktank

The Guardian has uncovered that Steve Barclay, the new secretary for the environment, received a donation from a significant contributor to a think tank known for its skepticism towards climate change, just a few weeks before assuming his position.

On October 20th, Michael Hintze gave £3,000 to Barclay. Campaigners are now urging Barclay to disclose any lobbying efforts on climate issues from individuals who deny the severity of climate change.

Lord Hintze is a prominent financial supporter of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a thinktank based in the UK that has rejected the validity of climate science. He was also among the first to provide funding for the organization.

The thinktank was established by Nigel Lawson, a former Conservative chancellor, with the goal of questioning policies related to the climate crisis. Lawson has expressed the belief that climate change is not a significant threat and is occurring at a slow rate that can easily be managed. However, the thinktank’s reviews have been in disagreement with mainstream science, asserting that the climate emergency is not occurring or minimizing its severity.

Some Conservative Members of Parliament have served as trustees for the thinktank, including Steve Baker, the former Northern Ireland minister. He resigned from his trusteeship upon assuming his ministerial position.

The organization has recently been at the forefront of opposing government net zero policies and showed support when Rishi Sunak stated his plan to retract climate initiatives. The Guardian reported last year that the thinktank received funding from organizations associated with oil and gas.

The secretary of the environment is currently under scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest regarding his wife’s employment at a water company. Karen Barclay holds a high-level position at Anglian Water, managing major infrastructure, planning, and stakeholder engagement. As secretary of state, Barclay has the duty of regulating water companies. He is in charge of ensuring that water companies follow the government’s storm overflow reduction plan to improve sewage pollution.

Campaigners have stated that it is unacceptable for an individual responsible for safeguarding the environment to accept donations from a prominent supporter of a climate change denial organization.

Jolyon Maugham, the head of the Good Law Project, expressed that Steve Barclay is receiving funds from an individual who has been a significant supporter of a group that denies climate change and has connections to Tufton Street. It is surprising that Barclay holds the position of environment secretary. Is this meant to be a joke within the Conservative party? However, the younger generation is not finding it amusing, and neither is the global south.

Members of Parliament are anticipated to inquire about Barclay’s stance on and support for the opinions of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Caroline Lucas, the representative for Brighton Pavilion for the Green Party, expressed concerns about Steve Barclay and his actions. She believes that as we face a growing climate emergency, it is unacceptable for someone in the role of Environment Secretary to accept donations from a prominent supporter of the GWPF, an organization known for denying the reality of climate change. Lucas is seeking answers about why Barclay accepted this donation, any discussions he had with Lord Hintze before and after receiving it, and his stance on the views promoted by the GWPF.

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Hintze has been reached out to for a response.

According to a reliable source familiar with Steve Barclay, all contributions made to his office are disclosed in accordance with the code of conduct for Members of Parliament.

“Lord Hintze is a Conservative peer and regular party donor who supports a number of Conservative MPs. Steve has never discussed environmental policy with him.

“Steve is wholeheartedly dedicated to achieving the government’s goal of achieving net zero emissions. Safeguarding our environment for future generations is one of his main focuses, which includes taking immediate action to address climate change.”

The Guardian was referred to a speech made by a spokesperson for Hintze in the House of Lords, where he expressed his belief in the reality of climate change.

Source: theguardian.com