international policy network

How Lord Lawson Used Climate Denial to Stage His Political Comeback

The global economy was in a death spiral and Britain was at the centre of the financial tornado. The legacy of Chancellor Nigel Lawson – reliance on the deregulated and seemingly craven denizens of the City of London – meant Britain, in particular, was in serious peril.

At the same time, environmental groups and campaigners had finally persuaded the Labour Government to address the serious risk that profit-seeking oil companies posed to the global ecology. The Climate Change Bill passing through Parliament in 2008 would introduce statutory reductions in carbon emissions.

It was at this moment that Lord Lawson, retired to a picturesque and sleepy French village, and conspicuous through his long absences from the House of Lords, decided to stage a remarkable political come back.

Steve Hilton Masterminded Cameron's Climate Crusade - But Was it Just Greenwash?

The International Policy Network was one of the UK’s most prominent climate-denying think tanks but in 2011 it closed its doors as science triumphed over ideology. The DeSmog UK history series continues.

The International Policy Network (IPN) was an offspring of Antony Fisher’s free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and its board was composed of Fisher’s two children, Linda Whetstone and Michael Fisher.

But Whetstone’s son-in-law, Steve Hilton, would by happenstance turn out to be the architect of the IEA's greatest woes. In 2011, the think tank closed its doors, apparently due to an internal battle where science finally overwhelmed both ideology and the lure of dirty oil funding. 

How One UK Climate Denial Think Tank's Links to ExxonMobil Led to its Downfall

This DeSmog UK epic history post examines the demise of one UK free market climate-denying think tank after its funding was linked to ExxonMobil.

Chief executive Rex Tillerson’s decision, made in the ExxonMobil boardroom in Texas, to turn off the flood of funding to free market think tanks resulted in an immediate crisis for Julian Morris and his colleagues at the climate sceptic International Policy Network (IPN) near the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

The oil company had donated $95,000 to the libertarian IPN in 2006, but further funding was in serious jeopardy. According to accounts filed by the charity, “the trustees of IPN UK concluded that the institute’s objective would presently be best achieved primarily through the provision of support to IPN UK’s sister organisation and others, rather than acting directly.”

That Time When a Koch-Funded Washington Lawyer Made a Secret Plan to Derail the Kyoto Protocol in Europe

This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the transatlantic effort by the European sceptic Benny Peiser and Washington lawyer Chris Horner to bring down the Kyoto Protocol.

Prior to teaming up with Lord Lawson at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Benny Peiser was working with Julian Morris at his free market think tank, the International Policy Network (IPN). But, at the same time, Peiser was an advisor of the IPN’s rival British sceptic organisation, the Scientific Alliance.

The Scientific Alliance worked closely with the Virginia-based George Marshall Institute, an ExxonMobil-funded free market think tank that can claim to be among the first to attack the science of climate change.

How an ExxonMobil-Funded Think Tank Took Over a Scientific Journal

This epic history series post reveals how the ExxonMobil-funded International Policy Network think tank took over a scientific publication as “guest editor”.

The real coup de grâce for Julian Morris came in 2005, when he persuaded his friend and fellow sceptic, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, (pictured) to allow staff at his UK think tank, the International Policy Network (IPN) to “guest edit” her Energy and Environment journal.

This was startling: a free market think tank, funded by an oil company that was actively engaged in attacking climate science to protect its own financial interests, had taken over a scientific publication.

That Time When an International Free Market Think Tank Attacked The Kyoto Protocol

This DeSmog UK epic history post looks at how Julian Morris’s free market think tank spread its influence in its attack on the Kyoto Protocol.

The free marketeer, Julian Morris, and his team at his International Policy Network (IPN) think tank continued to lead the charge against climate science in the autumn of 2003 – all the while secretly receiving generous funding from ExxonMobil.

In October 2003, Morris unleashed a vitriolic attack on the Kyoto Protocol along the familiar theme that the restrictions on fossil fuels would strangle economic growth.

How the Free Market Friendship Between Julian Morris and Roger Bate Came to an End

This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the falling out between long-term friends and free marketeers Julian Morris and Roger Bate.

The free market International Policy Network (IPN) was launched amid much fanfare in 2001 with Julian Morris and Roger Bate at the helm. Almost immediately John Blundell, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs and IPN board member closed down the Environment Unit.

The war against climate science was about to embark on a new journey, with a purpose built think tank ready to take to the front line. The IPN would try and convince the world that free market economics - and climate denial - were in the interests of the poorest people and the most impoverished countries.

The IPN tried at first to keep its funding from ExxonMobil and British American Tobacco secret, fearing journalists would not take them seriously if the vested interests of their financial backers were known. And it was only a few years before Morris and Bate apparently fell out - with Bate being the first of the three men to leave for the United States.

Morris and Bate were long-term friends and started a company together, and were known to most people in the sceptic community as a brilliant double act. 

How Julian Morris Led the British Charge Against Climate Science in 2003

Our latest DeSmog UK epic history series post looks at Julian Morris’s ExxonMobil-funded, climate sceptic publication Adapt or Die.

Julian Morris, the president and founder of the International Policy Network (IPN), was leading the British charge against climate science and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2003.

The London-based free market think tank published Adapt or Die: The Science, Politics and Economics of Climate Change just in time for the climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP) summit held in Milan in December.

Adapt or Die was a veritable directory of climate sceptics from both the UK and the US.

Quite a Chain of Consequences for a Chicken Farmer!

Antony Fisher founded the think tanks in Britain that first promoted climate denial. His dramatic life story is a vital morality tale for those concerned about climate change. Picture: Antony (right) and Basil at Eton.

Without Fisher, no IEA; without the IEA and its clones, no Thatcher and quite possibly no Reagan; without Reagan, no Star Wars; without Star Wars, no economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Quite a chain of consequences for a chicken farmer.”

So remarked Oliver Letwin MP in the Times in 1994. Two decades later and he might add, “no slander of climate science, and no sabotage of government action on global warming”.

Institute of Economic Affairs

Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)



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