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Senior member of major think tank aids in education program to feed misinformation to public: 'It's a huge scandal'

"It won't be a surprise to anyone that the IEA is cementing its role as a major mouthpiece for climate change [skepticism]."

"It won't be a surprise to anyone that the IEA is cementing its role as a major mouthpiece for climate change [skepticism]."

Photo Credit: iStock

If countries around the world are going to make meaningful changes to reduce human-caused rising temperatures, corporations and thought leaders will be a huge part of it.

Contributing to climate change denialism directly opposes that mission, which has a goal of keeping the warming world from reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, as detailed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

It's all the more concerning, then, that a senior member of the United Kingdom-based Institute of Economic Affairs, a conservative think tank, spoke out against climate activists in a documentary, as DeSmog reported.

The IEA says it educates people about free markets and their role in solving economic and social problems. Stephen Davies is the group's senior education fellow and has been a part of its educational outreach programs since 2010, per DeSmog.

The outlet's investigation noted the IEA received funding from oil and gas giant BP for over 50 years, "has extensive influence in politics and the media," and has pushed for the continued use of dirty energy sources. 

Dirty energy sources contribute to the harmful gases in Earth's atmosphere that envelop the planet like a blanket, warming it and causing extreme weather events. Extreme weather is not only increasing in severity — it is also becoming more frequent.

Among his claims in Martin Durkin's "Climate: The Movie (The Cold Truth)," Davies said climate policies are intended to harm working-class people and sentence folks to an "austere" lifestyle, controlling or even prohibiting "consumption choices of the great bulk of the population," DeSmog reported.

"What you have here is a classic example of class hypocrisy and self-interest masquerading as public-spirited concern," Davies said in the film.

"You could take these kinds of green socialist more seriously if they lived off-grid, they cut their own consumption down to the minimum, they never flew," he continued. "Instead, you get constant talk about how human consumption is destroying the planet but the people making all this talk show absolutely no signs of reducing their own."

The movie also featured Benny Peiser, the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which DeSmog called "the UK's leading climate science denial group."

Countering claims about a carbon dioxide "famine" and two dozen other myths about climate change, DeSmog pointed out that CO2 has driven warming for more than 100 years, the last 10 years are the hottest on record, and it will cost the UK less than 1% of its national output to reach net-zero goals by 2050 — and that failing to do so would be much costlier.

The contentions of those with the IEA, a member of the notorious Atlas Network, may become only more problematic — it boosted its media appearances by 43% from 2019 to 2023, per DeSmog.

"Steve firmly believes that climate change is happening and carbon emissions are having an impact," the IEA said in a statement. "His view that climate policy imposes costs, particularly on working-class communities, is entirely mainstream. IEA publications and spokespeople have supported action on climate change, including carbon pricing."

"It won't be a surprise to anyone that the IEA is cementing its role as a major mouthpiece for climate change skepticism," Good Law Project campaigns manager Hannah Greer told DeSmog. "It's a huge scandal that the IEA is still allowed to peddle fringe views under the guise of being an 'educational charity' while benefiting from taxpayer subsidies.

"This has been allowed to happen because we have seen alarming and unambiguous regulatory failure from the Charity Commission — who have been presented with evidence of how the IEA is flouting charity law, but have chosen to look the other way."

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