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GB News chairman has history of dismissing threat of climate crisis

By Adam Barnett and Damien Gayle
Nigel Farage in the GB News greenroom
Nigel Farage, GB News’s main presenter, has likened his call for a ‘net zero referendum’ to his push for Brexit. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

The new chairman of GB News has a history of sharing articles that dismiss the threat of climate breakdown, it can be revealed, sharpening concerns about the TV channel’s role as a platform for advocates of the continued burning of fossil fuels.

Alan McCormick, a co-founder of Legatum Group, a Dubai-based investment firm and one of the channel’s key funders, tweeted several articles by climate science deniers, an investigation by DeSmog found, including one claiming there was “no scientific proof” that humans were causing the climate emergency.

GB News frequently hosts guests who cast doubt on climate science and oppose green polices, including the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) of Conservative MPs. In March, Nigel Farage, one of the channel’s main presenters, launched a call for a “net zero referendum” on the UK’s climate targets, modelled on his Brexit campaign.

McCormick, whose appointment was made public at the end of April, has also tweeted praise for calls for economic deregulation in the UK by the Tory MP Steve Baker. Baker is also leading the NZSG’s backbench revolt against the UK’s 2050 net zero goal and is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which opposes action on the climate crisis.

McCormick’s tweets about climate change, reviewed by DeSmog, appeared between 2013 and 2017 and mostly consisted of an article headline and a link without comment.

In March 2015, he tweeted a Wall Street Journal article headlined “The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics”. The writer was Richard S Lindzen, a US scientist who has received thousands of dollars from fossil fuel-funded thinktanks and said believing carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate change is “pretty close to believing in magic”.

The same month, McCormick tweeted “Why I am a climate sceptic”, an article by Patrick Moore published by the Heartland Institute, a US fossil fuel-backed thinktank. In it, Moore suggests claims that humans are behind the climate emergency are scientifically unsound and calls on readers to “celebrate carbon dioxide”.

In May 2017, McCormick tweeted a WSJ editorial in which the columnist Holman W Jenkins Jr writes that “climate advocacy has morphed into a religion”.

The climate sceptic tweets appear to stop in 2017 but McCormick recently retweeted an article by the GWPF adviser Matt Ridley recycling unproven claims that anti-fracking protests have been funded by Russia.

McCormick’s appointment as chairman of GB News’s parent company, All Perspectives Ltd, was first reported by Guido Fawkes, the political blog. Companies House records show he has been a director since April 2021.

He and two other men involved in Legatum – Mark Stoleson, its Maltese chief executive, and Christopher Chandler, a New Zealand-born billionaire – are listed as “persons with significant control”, meaning they hold at least a quarter of shares or voting rights.

GB News has not only emerged as an arena for Conservative MPs opposed to net zero to make their case, but also employs presenters who have used the channel to promote climate sceptic views.

Last summer, Dan Wootton, the former Sun showbiz editor, used his platform on GB News to accuse the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of using “hysterical” language and “spreading terror”. Last month, Darren Grimes accused the UK government of “net zero zealotry” in a self-described “ode to oil”.

Farage, brought in as GB News’s main presenter after the departure of the founding chairman and broadcasting heavyweight Andrew Neil, has likened his net zero campaign to his push for Brexit.

Jennie King, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue thinktank, said GB News had become a “central hub” for climate scepticism in the British media, and that “its influence increasingly extends beyond UK borders”.

“Using GB News as a platform, Farage and others have almost single-handedly manufactured controversy around a net zero referendum, despite minimal evidence of public support,” King said.

“Such content not only influences policymaking in the UK, but is excerpted and used by anti-climate movements across the globe.”

Legatum and GB News did not respond to requests for comment.

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Dive Deeper:
Do not use Ukraine war to defer climate goals, warns Mark Carney
UN climate envoy says world cannot afford to derail progress because of energy crisis linked to invasion
Climate chaos certain if oil and gas mega-projects go ahead, warns IEA chief
Fatih Birol says ‘carbon bombs’, revealed in Guardian investigation, will not solve global energy crisis
‘Our ancestors are in the rocks’: Australian gas project threatens ancient carvings – and emissions blowout
Custodians of petroglyphs in remote north-west say Woodside’s $12bn ‘carbon bomb’ spells disaster for culture and climate
Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown
Exclusive: Oil and gas majors are planning scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal. If…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
What the next Australian government must do to save the Great Barrier Reef
Widespread coral bleaching has now occurred on the Great Barrier Reef for the fourth time in seven years. As the…
An election guide: factchecking Morrison and Albanese on climate claims
Climate science may not be front and centre in the election campaign to date, but its impact on consumers –…
Get all your news in one place