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Nigel Lawson (1932–2023) was a British Conservative politician and former member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet. He held many posts including that of Secretary of State for Energy, but his most notable appointment was the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
After his glory days as 'the Chancellor' ended, Lawson became a political nobody, but he managed to shuffle himself back into political prominence by reinventing himself as a climate change denialist. Though less ardent than the fruitloops and wingnuts of the denial movement (he stops well short of claiming that climate change is a hoax or conspiracy to create a New World Order), Lawson did maintain that there had been no global warming in the last decade, until recent record-breaking temperatures made that position untenable. His book A Cool Look at Global Warming[note 1] maintained that there had been no warming; if there had been warming it had nothing to do with humans; if it did it wasn't a serious risk; and if it was there was nothing that could be done about it anyway. The book is also memorable for mocking the 40,000 victims of the 2003 European heat wave by contrasting their unspeakable deaths in the hottest European summer since at least 1540 with his own contemporaneous trip to the south of France, ascribing their deaths to a "perfectly acceptable" experience which was, in his own words, "obviously a stretch for some."
Lawson's renewed visibility allowed him to him chair several important reviews and to launch his own think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (the British version of the Heartland Institute). As the foundation's ideal "policy" on global warming is to do nothing, this must surely count as either the most worthless think tank or the most mendacious. Unsurprisingly, the source of the foundation's funding is kept secret, but by 31 July 2010 it had received £503,302, of which only £8,168 came from membership contributions. The foundation, often criticising scientists' "secrecy," itself has declined four Freedom of Information requests to disclose its funding.
In addition to his work with the foundation, Lawson was a frequent critic of the cost of combating climate change, which is a bit of an irony since he was instrumental in the privatisation of UK energy utilities, the same utilities that are now levelling price rises (above inflation) on the consumer. Some of his critics argued that Britain's then-new North Sea oil revenues during his time as Chancellor were necessary to mask the deleterious impacts of his helping Thatcher sell off national assets at pennies on the pound.
During the expenses scandal, it was revealed that Lawson managed to claim £16,000 in overnight allowances by registering his farmhouse in Gascony as his main residence.
Hard as it is to believe looking at them both, he was the father of TV cook Nigella Lawson and was made Baron Lawson of Blaby in 1992. He also appeared in the "documentary" The Great Global Warming Swindle.
Vote Leave… I'm leaving
Lawson was the former chair of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign that supported Brexit. Hypocritically, he decided to apply for residency in France in 2018 before the UK even completed Brexit negotiations.
Global Warming Policy Foundation
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) was founded in 2009 to combat what it called "extremely damaging and harmful" measures to tackle climate change. Which means, pushing climate change skepticism.
As of 2022 its trustees are Jerome Booth (an economist), Peter Philip Edwards (a chemist), Fritz Vahrenholt (a German SPD politician), Terence Mordaunt (a British shipping magnate), Kathryn Julia Gyngell, Michael Joseph Kelly (a New Zealand–British physicist), and Graham Stringer (a Labour MP).
In 2014, the Charity Commission for England and Wales found it had breached rules on impartiality, stating "taken as a whole, it was difficult not to form the conclusion that the publications and postings on the charity’s website promoted a particular position on global warming". As a result of complaints it established a separate campaigning wing, Net Zero Watch, to explicitly oppose measures to mitigate global warming.
In 2022, The Guardian revealed some of its sources of funding, much of which was funnelled through a US offshoot, American Friends of the GWPF. This included $210,525 in 2018-2020 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation (which funds many right-wing causes such as Project for the New American Century and Reason Foundation); and $620,259 from the Koch Brothers' Donors Trust over 2016–2020. As a result, it was reported to charity regulators by the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion, and later also by Lib Dem and Labour MPs and the Good Law Project, all of whom suggested this proved it acted as a fossil fuel lobby group rather than a charity.
- Why do denialist screeds always have bad puns for titles?
- Lord Lawson of Blaby
- Sourcewatch Nigel Lawson
- Privatisation and Liberalisation of Network Utilities by David M Newbery
- The Global Warming Policy Foundation
- Some of the crap on his website
- Chris Huhne blasts Lord Lawson's climate sceptic thinktank
- Nigel Lawson on climate change: 'Saving' the planet will be the real disaster
- The cost of privatisation is clear as consumers accuse energy providers of ‘extortion’
- EDF announces energy price rise
- E.g., Adam Ramsay, Nigel Lawson’s economic ‘success’ was an oil-fuelled illusion, openDemocracy, 4 April 2023
- Daily Telegraph Lords' expenses claims top £18 million
- He chaired the campaign for Britain to leave the E.U. Now he’s applying for residency in France. by Siobhán O'Grady (May 31, 2018 at 5:19 PM) The Washington Post.
- Global Warming Policy Foundation, DeSmog, accessed 3 November 2022
- Lord Lawson and his climate change sceptics broke charity bias rules, The Independent, 30 Sep 2014
- Global Warming Policy Foundation: Trustees, Register of Charities, Charity Commission for England and Wales, accessed 3 Nov 2022
- Strip climate sceptic thinktank of charitable status, MPs urge, The Guardian, 27 Oct 2022
- Climate sceptic thinktank received funding from fossil fuel interests, The Guardian, 4 May 2022
- Climate sceptic thinktank reported to charity commission over fossil fuel interest funding, The Guardian, 23 May 2022
- See the Wikipedia article on Scaife Foundations.