The Conservative party received £3.5m from individuals and entities linked to climate denial, fossil fuels and high-pollution industries last year, according to new analysis.
Helena Horton www.theguardian.com
The climate website DeSmog analysed Electoral Commission records, which show that the party and its MPs received funds from the aviation and construction industries, mining and oil interests, and individuals linked to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a thinktank which has denied the legitimacy of climate science.
The analysis comes after the government announced an underwhelming suite of energy policies, which rely on carbon capture and storage and which campaigners have said lack the ambition to properly phase out fossil fuels.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said the government’s so-called 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”.
The Tories gained large sums from those with direct ties to fossil fuels, including more than £62,000 from Nova Venture Holdings, a firm wholly owned by Jacques Tohme, who describes himself as an “energy investor” on LinkedIn and lists his current role as co-founder and director of Tailwind Energy, an oil and gas company.
The party also received £10,000 from Alan Lusty, the CEO of Adi Group, a “leading supplier of engineering services to the petrochemical industry”, while Centrax, a firm that manufactures gas turbines, gave £35,000 to the party.
The party received £23,900 from Amjad Bseisu, CEO of the oil and gas firm EnQuest, who has argued that the North Sea could still yield further discoveries to extend its lifespan.
The largest donor to the Conservative party last year was the aviation entrepreneur Christopher Harborne, who gave £1.5m. The entrepreneur is CEO of a private jet company and also runs AML Global, an aviation fuel supplier operating in 1,200 locations across the globe with a distribution network that includes “main and regional oil companies”, according to its website.
Harborne has previously provided gifts to the Conservative MP Steve Baker, who co-founded the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, and was once a GWPF trustee. Harborne has previously given £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. The entrepreneur hasn’t publicly spoken out on the climate crisis.
The largest single donation to the party – £973,000 – came from Mark Bamford, who is part of the JCB construction empire. According to the government’s environmental audit committee, the UK’s built environment is responsible for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and “there has been a lack of government impetus or policy levers to assess and reduce these emissions”.
The Bamfords have also invested in hydrogen power, a form of energy which could help to decarbonise heavy industry if it is produced sustainably. The government has been trialling the use of hydrogen to heat homes, but a comprehensive review of scientific papers has concluded that it is unsuitable for use in home heating, and likely to remain so, despite the hopes of the UK government and plumbing industry.
Sir Michael Hintze, who was one of the early funders of the GWPF, donated £17,500 to the party.
The Conservative party and all companies and individuals mentioned have been contacted for comment.