Clexit: The new heights of climate science denial

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DeSmogBlog's Graham Readfearn reports on a new group, with powerful allies, espousing climate change denial and calling for, among other things, an end to the UN Paris Agreement.

IN THE WAKE of the political tsunami caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a group of climate science denialists has formed to jump enthusiastically onto the Brexit bandwagon.

Backed by a blitzkrieg of conspiracy theories and pseudo-science, a rapidly convened new group called "Clexit" has been formed.

The group claims to have '60 well-informed science, business and economic leaders from 16 countries' signing on to a founding statement that is chock-full of long-debunked climate change myths, together with attacks on renewable energy and the United Nations.

In a not unambitious founding statement, Clexit says:

'The world must abandon this suicidal global warming crusade. Man does not and cannot control the climate.'

Among the group’s many demands are that nations refuse to ratify the United Nations Paris Agreement — a position shared by Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

As DeSmogUK and Climate Home reported, many of the UK's leading “Leave” campaigners were also climate science denialists.

The group has a committee of well-known climate action blockers and fossil fuel advocates, including British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton and U.S.-based Marc Morano, of the fossil fuel funded think tank Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

Many of the Clexit members are linked to the “web of denial” described by U.S. Democratic Senators in a series of Senate speeches delivered last month.

Founding statement

The Clexit founding statement – all 1200 words of it – is the epitome of modern climate science denial. Here are a few samples:

Brexit was Britain’s answer to the growing over-reach of EU bureaucracies. Clexit is our answer to the push for global control through climate hysteria…

If the Paris climate accord is ratified, or enforced locally by compliant governments, it will strangle the leading economies of the world with pointless carbon taxes and costly climate and energy policies, all with no sound basis in evidence or science….

This vicious and relentless war on carbon dioxide will be seen by future generations as the most misguided mass delusion that the world has ever seen…

Carbon dioxide is NOT a dangerous pollutant – it is a natural, non-toxic and beneficial gas which feeds all life on earth. Its increasing concentration is improving the environment, not harming it…

The Clexit Campaign aims to prevent ratification or local enforcement of the UN climate treaty. Nations should not tolerate UN and EU bureaucrats manipulating science in order to justify their dreams to redistribute wealth and revert to the central planning that enslaved and impoverished the old command economies…

Global warming has occurred naturally many times in the past and is not to be feared – it is not controlled by carbon dioxide or humans…

This is the part where we point out that these kinds of positions, while forcefully and repeatedly claimed, run counter to every national science academy on the planet and the governments of every major economy in the world.

The Clexiteers have formed their group during the hottest streak of months on global warming records. According to the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, June 2016 was the 14th consecutive record-breaking hot month.

Despite this, the positions in the Clexit statement mirror those pushed by the likes of U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, fringe right-wing Australian political party One Nation and some within the ranks of Australia’s governing Coalition of the Liberal and National parties.

Hugh Morgan

The Clexit group’s secretary is Viv Forbes — a director of Australian company Stanmore Coal who has long stood firm against the tsunami of evidence linking greenhouse gas emissions to risky climate change.

But one of the group’s highest profile “founding members” appearing on the published list is Australian businessman and climate “sceptic” Hugh Morgan, a former board member of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

As recounted in Clive Hamilton’s book Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change, Morgan was a central industry figure in building opposition to climate action within the Liberal Party in the 90s and early 2000s.

Morgan was the president of the Lavoisier Group — an organisation set up to fight ratification of a previous UN climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.

Morgan, former CEO of Western Mining Corporation, continues to have close ties to Australia’s governing Liberal Party.

Before Australia’s July general election, The Australian newspaper reported that Liberal leader and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had met with Morgan and other directors of the key Liberal Party funding group, the Cormack Foundation.

According to records held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Morgan has been a Cormack director since it was founded in March 1988.

Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) records show Cormack was the biggest single donor to the Victorian branch of the Liberal party in the 2014-15 financial year, handing over some $4.46m.

AEC records show that in 2014-15, Cormack received $5.4m in income, declaring receipts from major banks as well as mining companies Rio Tinto ($210,000) and BHP Billiton ($293,000). The receipts are not donations but more likely income from investments in those firms.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Morgan is currently trying to raise $2 billion for a mining-focused private equity firm.

Other listed members of the Clexit group include the Heartland Institute’s Jay Lehr, coal backed Canadian denialist Patrick Moore and Australian mining figure Ian Plimer.

This story was originally published on DeSmogBlog.com on 3 August 2016. You can follow Graham Readfearn and on Twitter @Readfearn.

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