Skip to content

Charity Commission reviews complaint against climate sceptic thinktank | Climate science skepticism and denial

  • by

The Charity Commission has confirmed that it is reviewing a complaint about the Global Warming Policy Foundation after lawyers and MPs formally raised concerns about its charitable status.

GWPF exists to question policy around the climate crisis, and was set up by former Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson, who has said that climate change is not a threat, but “happening very gently at a fraction of a degree per decade, which is something we can perfectly well live with”.

The thinktank has produced reviews – at odds with mainstream science – that claim the climate emergency is not happening. Tory MPs have at various times been trustees of the thinktank, including until recently the Northern Ireland minister, Steve Baker. He quit his trusteeship when he took up the post of minister.

Cross-party MPs recently wrote to the Charity Commission along with lawyers from the Good Law Project. The MPs, from the Liberal Democrats, Labor and Green party, expressed concerns that the GWPF may be in breach of its duties in regard to the use of its charitable funds, by using them to fund non-charitable activities carried out by its subsidiary, Net Zero Watch.

NZW was set up by the foundation recently as a campaigning platform highlighting what it calls the “costs of net zero” after a previous investigation by the Charity Commission found that the foundation had breached rules on impartiality.

The Good Law Project said it found “several hundred thousand pounds’ worth of spending on one-sided research and a financial relationship between GWPF and NZW which appears to breach key protections of charity law”. The complaint claims that money from the charitable foundation is funding non-charitable lobbying work by its campaigning arm.

The Charity Commission has responded to confirm that it is reviewing the think tank. In a letter seen by the Guardian, it says: “I understand that you have written to the commission to raise your clients’ concerns about the trustees’ authorization of spending on research and the charity’s arrangement with the non-charitable subsidiary GWP Forum.

“The information provided in your correspondence has been assessed in accordance with our published regulatory and risk framework… I can assure you that we are actively considering the information provided.

“We will be in touch when we have a further substantive update in this case.”

Jo Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, said: “Public funds should never be used to subsidize lobbying by those who deny or minimize climate change. Yet that is the result of the continuing charitable status of the sinister Global Warming Policy Foundation.”

The GWPF has been contacted for comment, but a spokesperson previously said in response to the allegations: “It is right and proper that non-charitable activities are not funded by charitable donations and we take great care to ensure this does not happen. Any suggestion to the contrary, or attack on the academic credibility of the foundation’s publications, is unfounded. We will, as always, cooperate fully with any questions the Charity Commission considers it appropriate to ask of us.”

When the Guardian asked them about the Charity Commission’s plans, they replied that they were not aware of a formal investigation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *