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Climate change denial lobbyists access cabinet

Troublemaker looks at the week's newsiincluding lobbying over climate denial and scandal at the bosses' club
Issue 2850
Olukemi Badenoch - UK Parliament official portraits 2017

Kemi Badenoch

Trade secretary Kemi Badenoch met secretly with a US think tank that has taken millions of dollars from climate denial groups. She also claimed it would be “irresponsible” for Britain to follow climate science. Badenoch met ­representatives of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which campaigners say has a long track record of “distorting” climate science.

Yet Badenoch dined with lobbyists in November while on an official visit to the US. The  AEI has received more than £265 million in donations from climate denial groups since 2008, including almost £4 million from US oil giant ExxonMobil mScant details of the meeting were published by Badenoch’s department last week, as her Indo‑Pacific trade deal faced criticism for “making a ­mockery” of British pledges to tackle deforestation.

The AEI, which also met with Liz Truss in 2018 when she was trade secretary, has sown doubt over climate change science. It described  the landmark 2021 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as ­“alarmist” and “deeply dubious”.Benjamin Zycher and Peter J Wallison, senior fellows at the AEI, played down its findings by claiming that “we don’t understand all the elements in the complex climate system—the effects of clouds alone are understood poorly”.

The think tank also ­separately criticised Cop 26, the annual UN climate conference hosted by Britain in 2021. One of its authors claimed that delegates spread a “false narrative” that urgent action is required. Badenoch also gave a speech at another US think tank, the Cato Institute, during her official visit.It was founded by ­billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, one of the top funders of climate denial in the US. Cato is “focused on ­disputing the science behind global warming,” according to Greenpeace US. The minister gave a speech promoting free trade at the institute’s headquarters in Washington DC in which she hinted that some climate change policies could “impoverish” Britain.“We can and should solve it by using free trade and investment to accelerate the technological progress that will protect the planet. We must protect the planet in a way that does not impoverish the UK, the US or, let’s be honest, any other country,” she said.

Death from high cost of fuel bills

Barbara Bolton worked as a Tesco pharmacy assistant until she was 82. Last week an inquest in Rochdale heard she died at the age of 87 from profound hypothermia because she was worried about high energy bills and didn’t heat her home.

She was discovered by her grandson at her kitchen table at her house in Bury, unable to speak, in December and later died in hospital. The court heard that while Barbara Bolton’s family had encouraged her to put her heating on and told her not to worry about the cost, she would not listen.

The coroner described how medics found she had a body temperature of just 28c rather than a healthy reading of 37c. The inquest heard hospital notes recorded that Mrs Bolton had deliberately not turned her heating on “for fear of high energy bills”. Recording a conclusion of misadventure, the coroner said, “She seemed like quite a remarkable woman, still working at 82.”

Tech tax avoiders avoid taxes again

Multinational corporations such as Google, Apple and Amazon are finding ways to wriggle out of paying a tax that was designed to stop then wriggling out of paying their taxes.The digital services tax (DST), introduced in April 2020, imposes just a 2 percent charge on digital revenue generated in Britain. It was claimed it would stop the biggest technology companies avoiding tax by shifting profits overseas.

It is targeted at the companies with worldwide digital revenues of more than £500 million and with revenues derived from British users of more than £25 million. The National Audit Office (NAO) found last year that it generated 30 percent more than expected in its first year of operation. Good news? It probably shows that the forecasts were completely wrong and the firms should pay far more. Last year the NAO found that 18 companies had paid DST, collectively handing over nearly £360 million—more than they did in corporation tax. But 90 percent of that income came from just five groups, the NAO said, with 15 contributing less than expected, including 11 that paid nothing.

  • Serial  road offender and immigration minister Robert Jenrick has been disqualified from driving for six months and fined £1,639 for speeding on the M1 last year. Jenrick was also fined a total of £1,639 at a court hearing last week after previously admitting to travelling at 68 mph in a temporary 40 mph zone. The case was dealt with through a Single Justice Procedure which allows a magistrate to rule on criminal cases in a closed court, meaning the public and press cannot attend.

  • Children of working parents may commit crime later in life, a Tory MP has suggested. Nick Fletcher MP for Don Valley argued against free childcare saying children would end up “in the headmaster’s office, with the social worker, with the police or with the judge”. He said, “I am a social conservative. I believe the best person to look after our children is mum, dad, maybe nana, grandad—but family.”

Bosses in abuse scandal 

The CBI, the top bosses’ institution, said last week that it was expanding an inquiry into misconduct in its own organisation. This comes after allegations about its director general Tony Danker.

Danker stood aside last month pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him by a female employee. The expanded inquiry will look into further allegations unrelated to those against Danker which were made by more than a dozen women, all of whom are current or former employees of the CBI.

The women claim to have been victims of various forms of sexual harassment by senior officials. One alleges she was raped at a summer staff party on a boat on the River Thames in 2019. A second woman claims to have been sexually assaulted at the same event.

Do the shareholders a favour and die early

Corporate pension schemes are celebrating a potential £30 billion windfall—because people are dying earlier. The latest modelling saw life expectancy assumptions at retirement age fall 1.9 percent, or six months, compared with the previous year’s model.

Industry groups believe the forecasts could slash billions from the total liabilities of private sector defined benefit pension schemes. “We expect the typical impact of a scheme changing its longevity assumptions to be a reduction as high as £30 billion,” said Tim Gordon, partner with Aon, the actuarial consultancy.The Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) revises estimates annually to take into account the latest death trends.

“While deaths in 2020 and 2021 were clearly abnormally high due to the significant numbers of deaths seen during the first two Covid-19 waves, deaths in 2022 were persistently higher than pre-pandemic expectations,” said Jonathan Hughes, chair of the CMI.

“The CMI’s view is that these persistently higher than expected deaths may continue, as the underlying drivers appear likely to remain.” And those drivers are poverty, worse nutrition, and a failing NHS.

Things they say

‘We have become a country where thugs, gangs and monsters mock our justice system’

Keir Starmer uses The Mail online to be extra tough on crime

‘Cynical smear tactics demean Sir Keir’

The Mail is not impressed

‘Labour’s desperate—and hypocritical—campaign of hate shows they are running scared of prime minister Rishi Sunak’

The Mail is really unimpressed and making up lies

‘Police forces should not be getting involved in this kind of nonsense’

The Home Office says it is against the police investigating whether a pub full of racist dolls was racist

‘The creeping threat to British freedom’

The Sun declares its conviction that the biggest threat to democracy is that migrants have access to lawyers who might win cases

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