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Case update 03 January 2024

Charity Commission must investigate potential ‘serious breach’ say MPs

A year after cross-party MPs joined Good Law Project to request an investigation, new facts about climate denial charity the Global Warming Policy Foundation make an inquiry all the more urgent.

Three MPs have teamed up with Good Law Project to push for the Charity Commission to launch a formal inquiry, as new information about the Global Warming Policy Foundation comes to light.

Charities are supposed to avoid partisan activities, and to keep the money they raise for work that supports their charitable aims. But the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), based alongside the insidious network of lobby groups at 55 Tufton Street, has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on one-sided research attacking net zero policies, and passes money to its subsidiary Net Zero Watch, which campaigns against net zero. 

The charity’s director, Benny Peiser, has suggested it would be “extraordinary anyone should think there is a climate crisis” and last month appeared on news outlets to argue that “it’s obvious the economy and energy security comes first before all these green policies”. 

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Labour’s Clive Lewis has joined with Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Good Law Project to write to the Charity Commission (PDF) with details of a US-based group registered by the foundation in 2015 to “enable supporters in the USA to enjoy tax relief on donations”. Like many organisations based in Tufton Street, GWPF does not disclose how it is funded. However, an OpenDemocracy investigation revealed in 2022 that tax documents filed with US authorities showed the foundation had taken money from a donor who had shares in 22 companies working in coal, oil and gas.

According to Lewis, the latest revelations raise concerns over “what could be a serious breach of charity law”.

“The Charity Commission must play its role in ensuring that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld,” he said. “Our democratic institutions have been captured and run in the favour of a small handful of private interests, in this case, the fossil fuel industry.”

It is up to the Commission, he added, to make sure “these private interests are not able to influence the abuse of charity status to pursue political lobbying, downplaying the severity of the climate crisis.”

We will continue to keep pressure on the Charity Commission to hold GWPF accountable.