UK Climate Deniers Take Anti-Science Message to Trump Administration at CPAC 2017

Donald Trump addressing the CPAC conference

Two fringe British climate science deniers are heading to Maryland to see Donald Trump and his tea party pals this week, taking their Brexit-inflected anti-science agenda with them.

Trump’s golden elevator buddy and UKIP MEP, Nigel Farage, and far-right Breitbart London commentator, James Delingpole, are both due to appear at the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), starting today.

CPAC claims to be the “birthplace of modern conservatism”, and aims to “break through the resistance of Washington’s powerful elites” via four-days of talks and activist training. In recent years it has been seen as a breeding ground for Tea Party ideas and activism.

The conference will offer Farage and Delingpole an opportunity to network with other members of a US-UK climate science denial network linked to Brexit and Trump, previously mapped by DeSmog UK.

For the second year in a row, Farage will address the conference. He will be speaking on a panel titled ‘Brexit and What it Means for the World’, and will be hoping the auditorium is somewhat fuller than before.

In 2014, he said he has “no idea” whether global warming is real. He will be interviewed by Delingpole’s boss at Breitbart London, editor in chief Raheem Kassam. A former UKIP aide, Kassam was also pictured in the golden elevator alongside Farage and Trump last November.

Delingpole himself will take the stage to conduct two interviews.

The first is with Mark Mills, advisor to the CO2 Coalition. The CO2 Coalition is famous for disputing mainstream climate science. Its tagline is: “Carbon dioxide, a nutrient vital for life”.

Its director is Princeton professor William Happer, who was exposed in 2015 for agreeing to hide fossil fuel funding for his research by an Energydesk investigation. Happer is now reportedly being considered as a candidate to be Trump’s science advisor.

The second will be with Craig Idso, chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, also known as CO2 Science.

The center is one of three sponsors of the climate science denialist Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) reports, which published its latest iteration in 2015. Craig Idso and his father, Sherwood Idso, have been lead authors of the NIPCC report.

Craig Idso has also received money from the Exxon-funded Heartland Institute.

Trump Administration

As well as these fringe climate denialists, some big hitters will be in attendance this year.

Conference regular Donald Trump is scheduled to speak, though his security detail may be larger than in previous years. Vice president Mike Pence will also make an appearance. Both White House residents openly question the veracity of climate science.

Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus will also be in attendance. Priebus is known to have close ties to the Koch brothers, the US’s largest funders of climate science misinformation. Bannon was until recently executive director of Breitbart news and has been accused by Democrats in Congress of using the website for “spreading bigotry”.

Recently appointed Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is also due to address the conference. Pruitt is known to have close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and is this week released thousands of emails further detailing the relationship after prolonged litigation.

The emails show Pruitt “closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations”, the New York Times reports.

The Trump administration’s heavy presence shows it continues to interact with fringe groups of political and scientific outsiders, even though it now constitutes the political elite.

US-UK Climate Science Denier Network

Members of another key node in the climate science denier network, the Heritage Foundation, are also regular named on the conference agenda.

The conservative think tank is known for lobbying to repeal climate policies, and was identified as a driving force behind Trump’s transition team. The Heritage Foundation has long supported and been lobbied by several Brexit climate science deniers.

UK international trade secretary Liam Fox and Brexiteer MEP Daniel Hannan both recently hopped across the Atlantic to visit the foundation. Nigel Farage and former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson also spoke at the foundation in the run up to the Brexit referendum.

There are two panels dedicated to climate change at CPAC. The first is sponsored by the CO2 coalition, and is titled ‘When Politics Meets Climate Forecasting’.

The second is titled ‘Fake Climate News Camouflaging an Anti-Capitalist Agenda – and What President Trump Plans To Do About It’ and is sponsored by the E&E Legal Institute. The institute has been described as having  “a core mission of discrediting climate science and dismantling environmental regulations”.

There is also a panel on ‘opposition research’ featuring two members of America Rising. Its “creepy” attack-wing, America Rising Squared, is known for social-media aimed attacks on climate scientists and environmental activists.

Main image credit: Mark Taylor via Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0

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