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Latest 17 November 2023

New Environment Secretary bankrolled by funder of climate denial group weeks before taking on role

PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

We can reveal that just before he was appointed Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay accepted a donation from a Conservative Party peer who has funded the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a group that lobbies against policies to tackle the climate emergency.

Steve Barclay took a £3,000 donation from Sir Michael Hintze just weeks before he was appointed Environment Secretary in Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle, according to the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests records. Lord Hintze – who has given almost £5m to the Conservative Party and its MPs and was made a peer in 2022 – has been a backer of the climate-denying charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and was previously a trustee of Tufton Street outfit, the Institute of Economic Affairs. 

In January, the GWPF was forced to report itself to the Charity Commission. This followed a formal complaint, raised by a cross-party group of MPs working with Good Law Project, which underlined issues with GWPF’s charity status. These included its spending of hundreds of thousands of pounds on one-sided ‘research’, and its financial relationship with the non-charitable subsidiary Net Zero Watch.

Executive Director of Good Law Project, Jo Maugham, said:

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“Steve Barclay is taking money from a man who has been a key funder of a climate change denial group and who has ties to dark money HQ Tufton Street. And he’s the Environment Secretary?

“Is this some kind of hilarious Conservative Party in-joke? Because the younger generation aren’t laughing – and neither are countries like Pakistan and Mexico, which are already being destroyed by extreme weather.”

Lord Hintze has been approached for comment.

We worked with The Guardian to look into this donation and a source close to Steve Barclay told the paper that:

“All donations to Steve’s office are declared in line with the MPs’ Code of Conduct. 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 fully committed to the Government’s net zero aims. Protecting our environment for future generations is one of his key priorities and that includes urgently tackling climate change.”

But we think the Government has serious questions to answer over its shaky commitment to reaching net zero and protecting our environment. 

And other conflict of interest concerns have also been raised about Steve Barclay’s appointment as the new Environment Secretary, after it emerged that he is married to an Anglian Water executive. Anglian Water is one of several water firms currently under investigation by regulators for allowing possibly illegal raw sewage discharges into rivers and waterways.

Good Law Project is tackling the sewage scandal, defending the rights of climate protestors, holding Ministers to account over their inadequate net zero strategy and challenging the Government’s approval of a gas exploration scheme on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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