Chloe Farand

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Economists for Free Trade: Meet the 'Independent Experts' with Ties to Climate Science Denial Pushing a No Deal Brexit

Read time: 8 mins
Economists for Free Trade network

A pro-Brexit campaign group with ties to a neoliberal transatlantic network and climate science denial is emerging as a potentially influential player pushing for environmental deregulation and a “no deal” scenario.

Economists for Free Trade (EFT), formerly known as Economists for Brexit, has made the news recently following its report claiming that a cliff edge Brexit and adoption of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would be “the very best” option for the UK.

The group claims to be a coalition of independent economists, but it has strong ties to Brexiteer Conservative MPs, right-leaning mainstream media and some well-known climate science deniers.

The group has long been pushing for a full break-up with the EU and has accused the Treasury and civil servants of misleading the public on the costs of Brexit and staying in the customs union.

The group’s findings that “no deal would be better than a bad deal” have contradicted most other studies on the issue and have been widely criticised as “doubly misleading”.

How Hard-Brexit Thinktank the Institute for Economic Affairs Helps Climate Science Deniers Push a Deregulation Agenda

Read time: 7 mins
IEA director general Mark Littlewood and Michael Gove

A thinktank has been helping climate science deniers push their agenda on government ministers through its lobbying activities for a UK-US free trade deal, which could see the UK import products such as genetically modified (GM) beef and chlorinated chicken, an undercover investigation by Greenpeace’s Unearthed published in the Guardian reveals.

It exposed how the free-market thinktank the Institute for Economic Affairs is playing a pivotal role in enabling behind-the-scene discussions about a US-UK trade deal while advocating for a hard-Brexit with cabinet ministers.

The Unearthed investigation and a response published by the IEA, seen by DeSmog UK, also reveals details of how climate science deniers, including Tory hereditary peer and coal baron Matt Ridley and DUP MP Sammy Wilson, advocate for deregulation — including on food and environmental standards — as part of the IEA’s push for a hard-Brexit and stronger trans-Atlantic commercial links.

Government Recruits Fracking Commissioner to 'Facilitate Communication' With Residents

Read time: 5 mins
Preston New Road site

The UK government is recruiting a shale gas commissioner to “facilitate communication” with residents and push what is sees as the benefits of a new fossil fuel industry. The position was announced days before the government gave the go-ahead for fracking to start in Lancashire.

The new role of shale commissioner has been described by the government as “an independent appointment” which will have no powers of enforcement or investigation but will aim to “improve local understanding of shale gas operations by directing concerned local parties to relevant and impartial fact based information”.

Mapped: Whistleblower Accuses Nine Organisations of Colluding over Hard Brexit

Read time: 6 mins
55 Tufton Street network

Nine right-wing organisations including think tanks pushing disinformation about climate change have been accused of mounting a coordinated campaign to push for a hard Brexit, according to court documents.

Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, formerly of youth campaign group BeLeave, claims that think tanks and campaign groups held regular meeting at 55 Tufton Street — an office close to Westminster and home to the climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation — to “agree on a single set of right-wing talking points” and “securing more exposure to the public”.

Some of the topics discussed allegedly included “new policy announcement by the Labour Party, developments in the Brexit negotiations, or any other political news story”.

The accusations were made in documents from an employment tribunal setting out Sanni’s case  against pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which he has accused of unfair dismissal after he spoke out about illegal behaviour at Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign group.

New Health Secretary Matt Hancock Receives an Annual £4,000 Cash Bundle From Climate Science Denier Funder

Read time: 3 mins
Matt Hancock

The new health secretary Matt Hancock has received £18,000 from a key donor to the UK’s climate science denial think tank over the last four years, according to official government figures.

Hancock, who was promoted to health secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle following a dramatic day of resignations over the Prime Minister Brexit’s plan, has received regular cash from Neil Record, who has repeatedly argued that the science of climate change is not “settled”.

Introducing Dominic Raab — The New Brexit Secretary with Ties to the UK's Climate Science Denial Network

Read time: 8 mins
Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab has been appointed Secretary of State for Brexit following David Davis’ resignation. He is a hardline Brexiteer with links to an extended network of individuals and organisations pushing deregulation and climate science denial.

A former solicitor, Raab worked as Davis’s chief of staff between 2006 and 2010. He was elected the MP for Esher and Walton in 2010.

Church of England Urged to Divest from Oil and Gas Companies at Synod

Read time: 7 mins
Campaigners demand Church of England divest from fossil fuels

The Church of England’s approach to climate action has come under the spotlight ahead of its general meeting as pressure mounts for it to divest from all fossil fuel companies.

The general Synod will vote on a motion to reaffirm the Church’s existing strategy to engage with oil and gas companies and urge them to take more ambitious climate action when it meets in York later this week.

But campaigners said the motion was not going far enough and tabled an amendment calling on the Church to threaten to divest from fossil fuel companies if they are not on “an unequivocal path” to align their business models to the Paris Agreement goals by 2020.

The call for the Church to strengthen its stance on fossil fuel investments comes after Pope Francis urged big oil including Exxonmobil, Eni, Shell and BP to make a faster transition to clean energy.

Oil Giants Shell and Eni Face Trial in Milan over Bribery Allegations in Biggest Corruption Case Facing Sector in Years

Read time: 4 mins
Shell truck

One of the biggest corruption cases faced by the oil industry in recent years is due to resume in Milan on Wednesday as two of the world’s biggest oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and Italian firm Eni are facing trial.

Prosecutors are bringing criminal charges against Shell and Eni executives over allegations of corruption regarding a $1.3 billion oil deal in Nigeria.

This is the first time an oil company as large as Shell or senior executives of a major oil company have ever stood trial for bribery offences.

The case, which has been repeatedly delayed, involves the 2011 purchase by Shell and Eni of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield — one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks.

The Russian Magnate, ‘Goldfinger’ and Ex-Army Chief Discussing Siberian Gold Mine Deals With Arron Banks

Read time: 7 mins
Arron Banks answering the fake new select committee

Millionaire businessman Arron Banks, a major donor of the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, has come under the spotlight again. This time, Russian gold is also involved.

Banks’ involvement in the Leave campaign has come under close scrutiny from MPs after leaked emails showed he held multiple meetings with Russian officials in the run-up to the EU referendum, including three with the Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko.

The documents, obtained by the Sunday Times, also showed Banks flew to Moscow in February 2016 which Banks admitted was to discuss a business deal concerning “six Russian gold mines in Siberia” owned by Russian magnate Siman Povarenkin.

Gold mining businessman Peter Hambro and former army chief Field Marshal Lord Guthrie are also reported to have been involved in the deal.

How FIFA Uses the World Cup as a Platform for Corporate Greenwash

Read time: 11 mins
Vladimir Putin holding FIFA Wold Cup trophy

FIFA has been accused of double standards after it joined a UN Climate Change initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during this year’s football World Cup while continuing to receive lucrative sponsorship deals from big polluters.

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