Mat Hope

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Mat Hope is Editor of DeSmog UK. Mat began working with DeSmog UK as Deputy Editor in October 2016, shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU, and has been working on expanding our coverage of newly empowered networks. He writes, edits and commissions articles on all issues covered by DeSmog UK. He became DeSmog UK’s third Editor in October 2017. Mat previously worked as an Associate Editor for Nature Climate Change, handling its social science coverage and writing on how political, social and economic analysis is key to understanding the challenges associated with climate change. From 2012 to 2014, Mat was an analyst and writer for Carbon Brief, covering all facets of the UK’s energy and climate change debate, from fact-checking denier positions to reporting on the government’s role in international negotiations. Born in Cambridge, UK, Mat studied at the University of Bristol. In 2012, he completed his PhD on political communication strategies in US Congressional climate change debates, which won the Hilary Hartley prize as the best thesis in his department’s graduating class. Mat is a member of the National Union of Journalists.

Shell and Exxon’s Brent Oilfield Decommission Shows How Industry Hits Communities and Environment to the Very End

Read time: 8 mins
A diagram of the Brent oil field infrastructure

The North Sea oil and gas industry is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to emitting dangerous greenhouse gases.

Shell and Exxon are packing up and moving out of the famous Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea. As a final hurrah, almost 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be emitted as four platforms are dismantled and parts are either left to erode in the ocean or moved onshore and recycled.

That’s equal to about five percent of the UK's North Sea industry’s annual emissions — from the start to very end, the Brent oil field continues to contribute to climate change.

But emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, nitrous dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere is not the only environmental danger that comes with plugging and abandoning the wells.

UK Climate Diplomacy Staff Cut Again as Post-Brexit Links to Trump and US Deniers Strengthen

Read time: 3 mins

With Donald Trump set to become the President of the United States, the international climate change political scenery has shifted.

The president-elect’s stance on “quitting” the Paris Agreement seems to have softened in recent days. But countries are still going to need strong diplomatic teams to shore-up the global commitment to tackling climate change, reiterated at the Marrakech climate talks last week.

So it’s notable that the UK’s climate diplomacy team appears to weakening.

For the second year in a row, the foreign office reduced the number of people working on climate change and energy, documents released by the government this week under a freedom of information request show.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire Refuses to Revoke Planning Permission for Controversial Pont Valley Opencast Coal Mine

Read time: 3 mins
James Brokenshire

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed he will not revoke the planning permission for a controversial coal mine in County Durham.

Brokenshire revealed his decision in a letter to Green party MP Caroline Lucas. In the letter he states that:

… although there is a reserve power to revoke planning permission, it has been used very rarely and it is the department’s policy that such an intervention can only be justified in exceptional circumstances. The power will only be used if the original decision is judged to have been ‘grossly wrong’ …”.

From Donald Trump to Theresa May: How a US-UK Network Pushes Climate Science Denial and Lobbies for a Hard Brexit — Mapped

Read time: 7 mins
Network map of US-UK climate science deniers

Donald Trump has finally come to the UK, 20 months after he won the election to make him the 45th President of the United States.

During that time, a trans-Atlantic network of business people, think tank analysts, and lobbyists have grown in influence — pushing a free market ideology and spreading climate science denial on both sides of the Atlantic.

DeSmog UK first mapped the network when Trump was sworn into office in January 2017. Things have moved on a bit since then.

What #ShellKnew and How it Was Used to Stall International Climate Change Negotiations

Read time: 7 mins

Shell, one of the world’s largest oil companies, has gained privileged access to the UN climate change negotiations while pushing the same unworkable solutions for almost 20 years, internal company documents reveal.

DeSmog UK has previously reported on a tranche of documents first unearthed by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent published on Climate Files, that reveal Shell knew about the causes and impacts of climate change since at least the 1980s.

Analysis of these documents, combined with new sources freshly uncovered by DeSmog UK, shows that while Shell’s understanding of the science developed, its proposed solution to the problem has remained remarkably static.

‘Our Rivers are Black with Coal’ — Fleeing the Siberian Coal Mines Powering the UK

Read time: 9 mins

When you hit the switch on the kettle, what do you think about?

The lovely cup of tea that’s about to mask a myriad of office-based frustrations? The wonder of a modern power grid that means tea can go from concept to reality in under a minute? Probably, you think nothing at all.

And fair enough — you just wanted a cup of tea.

In the circumstances, pausing for respite in the two metres of linoleum and IKEA cupboards that pass for most office kitchenettes, it’s unlikely you would have thought about where the electricity to make that cup of tea has come from.

But perhaps we all should.

Theresa May Turns to Politicians that Voted Against the Climate Change Act in Bid to Bolster Brexit

Read time: 3 mins
Peter Lilley

In a bid to stop the Tory government repeatedly being defeated over Brexit laws, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to nominate nine new peers from her party. Among them are two familiar faces: Peter Lilley and Andrew Tyrie, who were two of only five MPs to oppose the UK’s landmark Climate Change Act.

May’s government has suffered 15 defeats in the House of Lords over Brexit, with between 30 and 100 Lords voting against the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill. She is appointing more Tory peers to try and increase her chances of pushing the law through the UK’s second chamber.

Former Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley is the most strident Brexiteer on a list of nine new potential appointments, reported by the BBC. He has also been one of the loudest critics of government action on tackling climate change.

Emails Reveal Closeness of UK's 'Strategic Relationship' with Oil Giant BP

Read time: 4 mins
Note from CEO Bob Dudley to BEIS Secretary Greg Clark

How friendly are BP and the UK government? Very, it seems.

Emails obtained through a freedom of information request by campaign group Culture Unstained show BP regularly meets with ministers, and uses its sponsorship of the UK’s public institutions to try and attract them to social events — with considerable success.

Climate Science Denial Group GWPF Rejected by Scandal-Hit EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

Read time: 2 mins
Scott Pruitt

Even Scott Pruitt — the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief known rarely to turn down a freebie — doesn’t want to have anything to do with the UK’s premier climate science denial group.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) invited Pruitt to give its annual lecture in 2017. Pruitt either rejected or ignored the invite, as it was ultimately former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that took to the stage.

Banks Group Under Fire After Protestors Claim Protected Newts Found at Controversial Coal Mine

Read time: 4 mins
Great Crested Newt

A controversial new coal mine is just weeks away from opening - unless a small, spotty amphibian gets in the way, that is.

Protesters at the Pont Valley camp near Dipton in County Durham claim to have found one of the creatures. That could be very bad news for Banks Group, which is rushing to start extracting coal from the site.