Climate sceptic former UK minister to launch think-tank

Owen Paterson, sacked last month as environment minister, is setting up the UK/2020 group to create a “radical Conservative vision”

Owen Paterson wants to scrap "green tape" (Pic: Flickr/Canterbury Diocese)

Owen Paterson wants to scrap “green tape”
(Pic: Flickr/Canterbury Diocese)

By Megan Darby

A climate sceptic UK Conservative MP who was sacked as environment minister last month is setting up a think-tank.

Owen Paterson told the Times his think-tank would campaign for Britain to abandon some of its climate change regulations and leave the European Union.

With the working name UK/2020, the research unit is tasked with developing “a radical Conservative vision” that will “reach beyond Westminster”.

Paterson is starting to recruit staff, promising “some long hours and hard thinking but lots of fun”.

He has reportedly raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund the unit. The donors have yet to be revealed.

As environment minister, Paterson was responsible for climate change adaptation, but declined to take briefings from climate scientists.

On one of the rare occasions he spoke on the subject, Paterson said there could be some upsides to global warming.

That was at a fringe event of the Conservative Party conference and another panel member told Paterson he was taking “a big risk”, according to the Guardian report.

After leaving office, Paterson was quick to reveal his hostility towards the green agenda.

In an opinion article for the Telegraph, he lashed out at the “green blob” he claimed held him back.

This was “the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape”.

The Daily Mail reported Paterson fought fiercely to keep his job, telling prime minister David Cameron he was one of the few Conservatives who really understood rural voters.

As a right-wing Conservative, he said he could see off the threat from UKIP, a party focused on getting Britain out of Europe.

Paterson has agreed to give the annual lecture for the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s most influential climate sceptic lobby group, in October.

Launched by former chancellor Lord Lawson, the GWPF has been forced to restructure after the Charity Commission found its main purpose was political, not charitable.

It is set to relaunch in September with a lobbying arm and a separate charitable education arm.

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