Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt is under pressure to explain donations she has taken from prominent climate sceptics despite maintaining she backs the UK’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The trade minister has previously received £20,000 from First Corporate Consultants, a company run by Terence Mordaunt, who chaired the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) between 2019 and 2021.
She did not respond to openDemocracy’s requests for comment – but could face questions on her financial backers at tonight’s leadership debate on Channel 4.
Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s shadow climate change minister, called on Mordaunt to end her silence on the donations.
The Covid-19 public inquiry is a historic chance to find out what really happened.
“Given some of the contenders have openly called for the commitment to net zero to be scrapped, Penny Mordaunt needs to explain why she has seemingly accepted multiple donations from notorious climate change deniers,” she said.
“The outgoing prime minister was incapable of giving a straightforward answer to a simple question. Candidates to replace him need to show that they will be honest with the British public.”
The GWPF is one of the most vocal groups lobbying against the UK’s net zero commitments and has been accused of spreading “misinformation and propaganda” about policies to reduce emissions by researchers.
Earlier this year, the GWPF’s campaigning arm Net Zero Watch published two reports claiming that there was “no evidence of a climate crisis” and arguing that the UK should increase production of fossil fuels while phasing out renewables. The group says its aim is “to provide robust and reliable analysis of climate and energy issues”.
The MP would not respond to questions from openDemocracy about whether she agreed with Terence Mordaunt (the two are reportedly distant cousins) and the GWPF’s positions on climate change, or whether she would return the donations.
Cox has previously said he does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change and has claimed his FairFuelUK campaign group has been responsible for keeping fuel duty frozen in the UK. He is also the secretary of the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) for Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers, whose members include several anti-net-zero Tory MPs.
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