Tory Party received £3.5m from donors with fossil fuel, polluter and climate denial links in 2022, new research finds

The government’s ‘green day’ “couldn’t be any more of a misnomer, when the Conservative party is raking in millions of pounds’ worth of dirty donations from fossil fuel interests and climate deniers.”

Climate change denial

New analysis shows that in 2022, the Conservative Party received £3.5m from entities and individuals linked to fossil fuels, climate denial and high pollution industries.

DeSmog, an investigative and fact-checking website focused on global warming misinformation campaigns, analysed Electoral Commission records, which showed that the party and its MPs received large sums of money from companies with oil and mining interests, and from high-polluting construction and aviation industries. Donations were also received from individuals with links to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the controversial think-tank that was founded by former Tory chancellor Nigel Lawson and denies global warming is a crisis, stating: “We’re not in a climate emergency.”

Christopher Harborne, a Thai-based aviation entrepreneur, who donated £6.5m to the Brexit party – now Reform UK – whose co-founder Nigel Farage has called for a referendum on the government’s net zero targets,  donated the largest sum to the Conservatives in 2022, equating to £1.5m. Harborne owns AML Global, a global aviation fuel supplier. The company’s distribution network includes “main and regional oil companies.” Harborne is also CEO of the Sheriff Global Group, which trades in private jets. He has also made donations to Conservative MP Steve Baker, who co-founded the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, which opposes many of the government’s net zero policies.

Another large donor was Mark Bamford, who made the largest single donation in 2022 of £973,000. Bamford is a member of the JCB Construction empire, a multinational company which manufactures construction equipment.

The government’s own Environmental Audit Committee admits that the built environment in Britain is responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and notes that there has been a “lack of government impetus or policy levers to assess and reduce these emissions.”

Sir Michael Hintze donated £17,500 to the party in the same year. Hintze was an early funder of the GWPF. The group was formed with the purpose of combating what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies’ designed to mitigate climate change.

DeSmog also found that both home secretary Suella Braverman and leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt received £10,000 in 2022 from First Corporate Consultants, which is owned by Terence Mordant, a member of the GWPF board.

Another notable donation was £62,000 from Nova Venture Holdings, owned by Jacques Tohme, co-founder and director of the oil and gas company, Tailwind Energy. The Tories also received £10,000 from Alan Lusty, CEO of Adi Group, a “leading supplier of engineering services to the petrochemical industry.”

‘Green day’ criticism

DeSmog’s findings come in the same week the government released a slew of climate and energy policies. Billed ‘green day,’ the policies have been criticised by some for falling short on ambition, and comprising of ‘significant gaps.’

The 30-page strategy called Powering Up Britain, was criticised for not aiming higher on the millions of homes that need insulating and amounts to an announcement of “all padding and no substance”, as Cara Jenkinson, cities manager at climate solutions charity Ashden, said.

Criticism was also made over the government’s refusal to lift a de facto ban on onshore wind, and for insufficient mentioning of the government’s ongoing licensing of new oil and gas fields on the North Sea.

“The government still has not understood the priorities and urgency here,” said Professor Richard Cochrane, associate professor in renewable energy at Exeter University. “Onshore wind is the cheapest and quickest option” to boost domestic energy security,” he added.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, referred to the government’s ‘green day’ as a “‘misnomer’, when the Conservative Party is raking in millions of pounds’ worth of dirty donations from fossil fuel interests and climate deniers.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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