Lobbyists who cleared ‘Climategate’ academics funded by taxpayers and the BBC
By Jason Lewis
A shadowy lobby group which pushes the case that global warming is a real threat is being funded by the taxpayer and assisted by the BBC.
The little-known not-for-profit company works behind the scenes at international conferences to further its aims.
One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called “Climategate emails”, producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.
Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.
Set up with the backing of Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, and run by a group of British MPs and peers the organisation, Globe International, started life as an All Party Group based in the House of Commons.
It is now run as an international climate change lobbying group flying its supporters and experts club class to international summits to push its agenda. Last year, it said, it spent around £500,000 flying its supporters to these meetings.
It has also paid out at least £75,000 on travel for prominent UK politicians, including for its former presidents Elliot Morley, the ex-Labour environment minister now facing jail for expenses fraud, and Stephen Byers, the former Labour cabinet minister who was suspended from the Commons after he was filmed describing himself a “cab for hire” when offering to lobby his parliamentary contacts for cash.
Now Globe is planning a mass lobby of the United Nations Rio 2012 summit in Brazil, where world leaders will discuss climate change, by holding a World Summit of Legislators in the city to coincided with the event.
Next week the group’s current President Lord Deben, the former Tory Cabinet Minister John Gummer, is due to launch a major report on climate change policy alongside Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary.
Globe has also recently held behind-closed-doors meetings with William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and other senior Coalition ministers.
Last year two prominent experts linked to Globe were drawn into the controversy over emails leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.
Lord Oxburgh, the organisation’s director, was called in to head an internal inquiry into the leaked emails which included one infamous message referring to a “trick” to “hide the decline” in global temperatures.
The peer’s investigation cleared the scientists of malpractice. But critics claimed the report was a whitewash and Lord Oxburgh also failed to declare his involvement with Globe before he began his investigation.
Meanwhile Bob Ward, from the Grantham Institute, which works alongside Globe, praised a second inquiry by former civil servant Muir Russell, which also cleared the climate researchers.
He said it had “lifted the cloud of suspicion” and demonstrated that “the integrity of climate science is intact.”
Globe International’s work is paid for with donations from multi-millionaire backers and through partnerships with other environmental groups.
Globe also confirmed last night that it received direct funding from the Department of Energy and the Department of International Development (DfID). including a grant of £91,240 provided by DfID since the Coalition came to power last year.
More cash from DfID is filtered through the Complus Alliance - a “sustainable development communications alliance” of broadcasters based in Costa Rica which is also supported by the BBC World Service Trust, the Corporation’s independent charity,.
Complus, which was awarded DfID cash last year and in 2006, says it has an “ongoing relationship with Globe” helping it run “shadow negotiation” teams at international summits of world leaders.
A spokeswoman for Complus said: “The BBC is a founding member not a funding member. They can make in-kind contributions, like organising events, supporting logistics, sharing content.”
She added that Complus did not fund Globe but work with them on “convergent objectives”.
Last night a DfID spokesman confirmed the department had given Complus £250,000 in total to provide research, advocacy and communications work on the impact of climate change.
The spokesman said: ‘These contributions were awarded under the previous Government. The current Government has not given them any funding.
‘We only support projects that meet our strict conditions of delivering value for money and can prove their ability to reduce global poverty.’
The BBC trust’s money is drawn from the £15.2 million-a-year it gets from the Foreign Office and DFID and £800,000 from licence payers. The BBC charity failed to respond to questions about its relationship with the project and how much this involvement was costing.
Last night Globe’s general secretary Adam Matthews said: “Globe is not a lobbying organisation. It is an international group of legislators. It was set up by the legislators themselves.
“We are funded by the World Bank, the EU, international parliaments and Governments, including the UK Government. The coalition Government contributes to our work through DFID.”
Globe International, registered as a not-for-profit firm under the name The Global Legislators Organisation Ltd, makes minimal discloses about its finances to Companies House.
Last year it declared a £500,000 loss, but still managed to fly a number of key supporters to summits and international conferences.
Barry Gardiner MP, its vice president and former Labour biodiversity minister, attended to at least four international conferences on Globe’s behalf, including a trip to Tokyo, Japan, Seoul and South Korea costing more than £7,000.
Another trip to China cost more than £8,000. Mr Gardiner’s daughter is also a member of Globe’s full time staff.
It also paid nearly £3,000 to fly Gregory Barker, now Coalition climate change minister, to Washington DC.
Peers Lord Hunt, former head of the Met Office, and Lord Jay, the former head of the Diplomatic Service, both declared club class travel to summits paid for by the organisation.
Lord Hunt, father of Tristan Hunt, the historian, television presenter and Labour MP, also lists Mr Matthews, Globe’s secretary general, as a member of his House of Lords staff.
Mr Matthews was once Barry Gardiner’s researcher in the House of Commons. His chief adviser, Gauri Kiik, is listed as being on the House of Lord’s staff of Lord Jay.
Lord Deben declares his work for Globe as a “non-financial interest” to the House of Lords. He is also yet to declare any foreign travel funded by the organisation, although Globe confirmed last night that it had contributed to his travel and accommodation costs in the role.
Lord Deben also runs an environmental consultancy company, Sandcroft International, which declared a turnover of almost £2 million in its last accounts. He is also chairman of Forewind, which has won the rights to build a controversial offshore wind farm in the North Sea off the Yorkshire coast.
Among Globe’s principle backers are a charity set up by the Swedish multi-millionaire Niklas Zennstrom, founder of the internet phone service Skype, and British-born wealth fund manager Jeremy Grantham, whose personal clients include Dick Cheney and John Kerry.
Mr Grantham bankrolls the Grantham Institute at the LSE, which works alongside Globe.
He believes “weather instability” is the world’s biggest “investment problem” and his $107 billion fund pushes alternative assets including a massive portfolio of forestry.
The fund was believed to be preparing to invest in the abandoned Government sell off British forests.
Globe’s staff also includes Dr Sam Fankhauser, Globe’s chief economist, is an “independent adviser” to the Government on climate change. He is a member of the Government’s Committee on Climate Change which advises on policy.
Globe Internationals’ influential supporters include:
President: Lord Deben, former Tory Agriculture Minister John Gummer. Paid expenses.Vice President: Barry Gardiner MP. Ex-environment Min. Regular club class flight. Daughter works for Globe.
Former President: Elliot Morley, ex-environment minister facing jail for expenses fraud.
Former President: former Cabinet Minister Stephen Byers who described himself as a “cab for hire” for lobbyists.
Director: Lord Oxburgh, appointed to oversee the internal investigation into Climategate affair. Failed to declare his link to Globe.
General Secretary: Adam Matthews. Works in the House of Lords former Met Office boss Lord Hunt. Previously worked as a researcher of Barry Gardiner.
Globe’s chief economist: Dr Sam Fankhauser is an “independent adviser” to the Government on climate change.