Global Warming Policy Foundation

Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)


The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is a United Kingdom think tank founded by climate change denialist Nigel Lawson with the purpose of combating what the foundation describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change. The group was established on November 22 2009, just three days after the first set of “Climategate” emails were released on the University of Tomsk's server.  [1][28]

Lawson describes the GWPF as an “all-party and non-party think-tank and a registered educational charity which, while open-minded on the contested science of global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated.” Although Lawson claims to be “open minded” on global warming, the GWPF website has a banner depicting a short-term temperature graph that suggests the world is not warming. [2]

In an interview, Nigel Lawson said that the group “will certainly be actively involved in monitoring what is being said, in correcting errors where the are errors. The only thing we will not be actively engaged in is what are the causes of the temperature changes on the planet: how much is CO2, how much is solar radiation, how much is cosmic rays. We won't be getting into all that.” The article also notes that the average age of the Trustees at the time of the group's formation was 74. [3]

Bob Ward, with reference to the names that appear on the GWPF's “Academic Advisory Council,” concludes that “Some of those names are straight from the Who's Who of current climate change sceptics … To me, this is pretty much indistinguishable from the websites that are run by rightwing, free-market think tanks in the US. It's just going to be a way of pumping material into the debate that hasn't been through scrutiny.” [4]

Stance on Climate Change

According to Benny Peiser, director of the GWPF, “We are certainly not taking a critical stance on the basic science of the greenhouse effect or the fact that CO2 emissions in the atmosphere are having an effect on the climate.” He said the foundation exists to help restore a less “hysterical” and “emotional” debate on the subject and promote what he calls a more “flexible and long-term approach” to the problem. [5]


According to the GWPF, “We are funded entirely by voluntary donations from our Members and Supporters.” They describe their members as “part of a growing international community of like-minded people who are helping to restore balance and accuracy to the climate debates.”  They suggest that by becoming a paying member, one can “actively help to inform and shape these debates.” [6]

According to SourceWatch, The Global Warming Policy Foundation will not reveal its funding sources. Lord Lawson, when interviewed by BBC Radio 4, said that he relied on his friends who “tend to be richer than the average person and much more intelligent than the average person”. [7], [26]

GWPF has defended their funding secrecy, claiming that “the soil we till is highly controversial, and anyone who puts their head above the parapet has to be prepared to endure a degree of public vilification. For that reason we offer all our donors the protection of anonymity.” According to a 2011 article, its total income for the period up to 31 July 2010 was £503,302, of which only £8,168 (or 1.6%) came from membership contributions.

This leaves the question of who provides the rest of their funding. The foundation charges a minimum annual membership fee of £100. According to most recent accounts (PDF), the foundation received £12,161 from membership fees in the year ending 31 July 2012. That would suggest a membership of 120 members at the most. The GWPF's main source of income remains donations, having received over £1m in the past three years. The Guardian investigated, and found that one of the foundation's secret donors is Michael Hintze, a businessman who has also given large sums of money to the Conservative party.  [8], [27], [29]

Key People

Board of Trustees

Source: [9]

Recent former trustees include: 

Academic Advisory Council

Source: [11]

Note: SourceWatch describes Hal Lewis as a member of the Academic Advisory Council, but he no longer appears on the GWPF website. 


May 14, 2014

The Global Warming Policy Foundation released a press release titled, “Lennart Bengtsson Resigns: GWPF voices shock and concern at the extent of intolerance within the climate science community.” Three weeks prior to this announcement, Bengtsson had just joined the GWPF, but due to what he wrote in his letter of resignation as “enormous group pressure,” and “no limit and end to what will happen,” he decided that there was “no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF.” [36]

In response to Bengtsson's letter of resignation, Benny Peiser replied, “The Foundation, while of course respecting Professor Bengtsson’s decision, notes with deep concern the disgraceful intolerance within the climate science community which has prompted his resignation.” [36]

David Henderson echoed similar sentiments: “Your resignation is not only a sad event for us in the Foundation: it is also a matter of profound and much wider concern. The reactions that you speak of, and which have forced you to reconsider the decision to join us, reveal a degree of intolerance, and a rejection of the principle of open scientific inquiry, which are truly shocking. They are evidence of a situation which the Global Warming Policy Foundation was created to remedy.” [36]

September, 2012

The Global Warming Policy Foundation published a pamphlet critical of the Stern Review — an influential report on the economics of climate change published in October 2006. The GWPF pamphlet, titled “What is wrong with Stern?”, was written by Peter Lilley, the Conservative Party Member of Parliament. Peter Lilley was one of 5 MPs (out of 646) who voted against the UK Climate Change Bill in 2008 which would have set legal targets for reducing emissions.

According to a critical review, the GWPF pamphlet uses a “combination of misrepresentation, bad economics and fundamentally flawed science, and simply recycles erroneous allegations that were made, and debunked, six years ago.” A number of experts agree that Lilley's pamphlet makes a number of errors and assumptions in an attempt to make a case against the Stern report. [32]

May, 2011

The GWPF distributed a leaflet (PDF) written by their “Academic Advisor” Matt Ridley (with a forward written by AGW skeptic Freeman Dyson) promoting the supposed benefits of shale gas. According to the report's summary, the development of shale gas would be superior to the development of renewable resources. Ridley writes that A surge in gas production and use may prove to be both the cheapest and most effective way to hasten the decarbonisation of the world economy, given the cost and land requirements of most renewables.” [31]

April 14, 2011

The GWPF presented “900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of 'Man-Made' Global Warming (AGW) Alarm.[12]

The blog Carbon Brief analyzed these papers and found that nine of the top ten authors had ties to ExxonMobil. They also discovered that prominent scientists featured on the list didn't agree that their work supported skepticism about anthropogenic global warming. 

Additionally, the most-cited journal on the list was Energy and Environment, a journal with a very low impact factor, and whose editors are AGW skeptics. [13]

December 2010 – February 2011

According to records of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PDF), the GWPF retained the lobbying services of Bell Pottinger, a group that gas generated controversy for its claims of influence over senior government members. It is unclear what these services were. [33]

September, 2010

When the three British Government enquiries into the CRU emails were completed, Dr Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation immediately announced that he wanted to investigate further. Independent reviews had already exonerated the CRU scientists from any misdeads, and found that climate scientists involved in the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit had not “manipulated and suppressed key climate data” as some climate change skeptics had claimed.

Even though the panel concluded that the allegations were unfounded, the GWPF would not accept the findings. Peiser stressed that “the issue would not go away with the report,” and that “We (the Global Warming Policy Foundation) have now commissioned our own inquiry into the way these three inquiries have been set up and run.” [14]

The GWPF commissioned Andrew Montford, author behind the Hockey Stick Illusion and the man behind the skeptic blog Bishop Hill, to write the “enquiry” into the Climategate emails. Montford was paid £3000 for his efforts [15]. The results were released in September 2010. [16] The Guardian noted that the choice of Montford was ironic given the serious inaccuracies in The Hockey Stick Illusion, which has also been criticized by numerous reviewers. [17], [18], [19] , [20] Furthermore the Global Warming Policy Foundation's own funding has faced controversy while it enjoys charitable status, yet Montford himself is critical of what he calls 'fake charities'. [21]

According to Sourcewatch, Montford criticized the official enquiries for not including known skeptics on their panels. This is not entirely true, however, as the Parliamentary Enquiry included Graham Stringer, a man who has consistently voted very strongly against laws to respond to climate change. [22], [23] Montford knew this, as evidenced by a recorded conversation he had with Stringer on the Bishop Hill blog where he describes Stringer as a “dissenter from the majority opinion represented by the report.” [24]

May 12, 2010

After the UK general election in May 2010, the Global Warming Policy Foundation began lobbying the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government to stop subsidies for alternatives fuels and encouraged the government to abandon the UK's emissions reductions targets. 

“At the very least, given the financial and economic state we are in, the new Government should phase out all energy subsidies of all kinds, and suspend unilateral targets until such time as all other major nations have signed up to the same course,” said GWPF Chairman Nigel Lawson. [30]

November 22, 2009

In an Op-Ed announcing the GWPF launch, Nigel Lawson called for “A high-level independent inquiry” into the e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). [25]

Related Organizations

  • The Heartland Institute – (For example, David Henderson is both a Heartland Institute Fellow and chair of GWPF)


  1. Ed Miliband clashes with Lord Lawson on global warming,” BBC News, December 6, 2009.

  2. GWPF Launched Today!”, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 23, 2009. Archived January 4, 2012.

  3. Nigel Lawson: Climate science has turned into religion,” The Register, November 25, 2009.

  4. Caroline Davies and Suzanne Goldenberg. “The voices of climate change sceptics,” The Guardian, November 24, 2009.

  5. James Randerson. “Climate sceptics: are they gaining any credence?”, The Guardian, December 4, 2009.

  6. Membership - Global Warming Policy Foundation. Accessed December 13, 2011

  7. Lawson still won’t come clean about sceptic foundation’s funding,” Left Foot Forward, June 10, 2010.

  8. Leo Hickman. “Global Warming Policy Foundation donor funding levels revealed,” The Guardian, January 20, 2011.

  9. “Board of Trustees,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Accessed April 3, 2014.

  10. Anthony Watts. “The GWPF Responds To New IPCC Report,” Watts Up With That, November 18, 2011.

  11. Academic Advisory Council,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Accessed December 13, 2011.

  12. 900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of 'Man-Made' Global Warming (AGW) Alarm,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, April 14, 2011.

  13. Energy and Environment – 'journal of choice for climate skeptics' Analysing the 900+ skeptic papers part III”, The Carbon Brief, April 21, 2011.

  14. Richard Black. “CRU climate scientists 'did not withhold data',” BBC News, July 7, 2010.

  15. James Randerson.”'Climategate' inquiries were 'highly defective', report for sceptic thinktank rules,” The Guardian, September 14, 2010.

  16. Andrew Montford: The Climategate Inquiries,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, September 14, 2010.

  17. Bob Ward. “Did climate sceptics mislead the public over the significance of the hacked emails?”, The Guardian, August 19, 2010.

  18. The Montford Delusion,” RealClimate, July 22, 2010.

  19. Nick Hewitt. “Climate change scepticism,” Chemistry World, September, 2010.

  20. Alastair McIntosh. “THE HOCKEY STICK ILLUSION,” Scottish Review of Books, Volume 6, Issue 3 (2010).

  21. Entries in Fake charities,” Bishop Hill. Accessed December 13, 2011.

  22. Graham Stringer MP, Manchester, Blackley,” the public whip. Accessed December 13, 2011.

  23. UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE: To be published as HC 444-i: Reviews into the Climatic Research Unit's E-mails at the university of East Anglia,” September 8, 2010. Accessed December 13, 2011 from

  24. A chat with Graham Stringer,” Bishop Hill, April 10, 2010.

  25. Nigel Lawson. “Copenhagen will fail – and quite right too,” The Times, November 23, 2009. Republished by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

  26. Climategate Revisited,” BBC Radio 4, October 21, 2012.

  27. Secret funding of climate sceptics is not restricted to the US,” The Guardian, February 15, 2013.

  28. COPENHAGEN WILL FAILAND QUITE RIGHT TOO,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 22, 2009.

  29. Michael Hintze revealed as funder of Lord Lawson's climate thinktank,” The Guardian, March 27, 2012. 


  31. Matt Ridely. “The Shale Gas Shock” (PDF), GWPF, May 2011.

  32. Critics of the Stern Review present both a case of bad economics and fundamentally flawed science,” Londen School of Economiocs and Political Science (Blog), October 3, 2012.

  33. PRCA Public Affairs Register – December 2010 to February 2011” (PDF), Accessed February 17, 2013.

  34. The voices of climate change sceptics.” The Guardian, November 24, 2009.

  35. Global Warming Policy Foundation,” SourceWatch Profile.

  36. Lennart Bengtsson Resigns: GWPF voices shock and concern at the extent of intolerance within the climate science community,” GWPF, May 14, 2014.