How a Wealthy UK “Thinktank” is Spreading Climate Denial Through Facebook Ads

Global Warming Policy Forum is spending thousands to minimise the impact of man made climate change.

Shot from a Facebook ad delivered in July 2020. Source: Facebook

Note that this article is adapted from my original Twitter thread on the subject.

Let’s jump right into it. Below, in quick succession, are three videos that the Global Warming Policy Forum paid Facebook to distribute in July 2020. I cover details of each video in the tweets themselves.

It is incredible that these videos are allowed to exist on such a mainstream platform. Not only is the science poor, but the tone of the adverts are full-on panic and anxiety — ironic that they mention climate change “alarmism” while trying to alarm as many Facebook users as possible.

Who Are The Global Warming Policy Foundation?

The GWPF is a “thinktank” founded by the Thatcherite Nigel Lawson and funded by a number of wealthy climate sceptics. Believe it or not this kind of marketing material used to be circulated by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK Charity. That’s right, a charity. However, in 2014 the Charity Commission rightly stepped in to stop this, explaining that:

The (Foundation) website could not be regarded as a comprehensive and structured educational resource sufficient to demonstrate public benefit.

As a result, the Global Warming Policy Forum was created as the “campaigning arm” of the Foundation. While it’s great these adverts are not benefiting from charitable relief, it’s not great that the organisation is still able to spread its message under the guise of something charitable.

What’s worse, Facebook has allowed Global Warming Policy Forum to declare themselves a “science website” on their Page. This means when you visit the Page on Facebook, or when you are directly shown an advert, the phrase “Science Website” shows up, implying the content is factually sound.

My view — and this shouldn’t be controversial — is these sorts of adverts, irrespective of the budget, should not be permitted. The ads speak with false authority; purporting to be factual without backing up claims (on the advert or the website). At a time where so many are genuinely trying to help to avoid catastrophic climate change, this group are actively campaigning against it to protect, presumably, their vested interests.

The problem is, Facebook is unlikely to do anything about it without seriously pressure. They don’t act on a myriad issues including hate speech and climate change misinformation, as I covered in a previous article.

Charity Commission information on the Global Warming Policy Foundation. To be clear, the Forum is publishing the adverts, but supported by the Foundation. Source: https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details?regid=1131448&subid=0

Total expenditure on Facebook adverts in the last year from the Global Warming Policy Forum was £2,500 in the UK, including during the #stophateforprofit period in July. You can look at the ads yourself at this link.

That amount might seem small, but to allow this sort of advertising sets the wrong precedent. And what’s to say the expenditure won’t continue to increase and increase, just like the income and expenditure of the Global Warming Policy Foundation year on year?

What Can I Do?

  1. First of all spread the word. Retweet the original thread here.
  2. Let’s get The Global Warming Policy Forum de-listed as a science website. See Andrew Harmsworth’s tweet below on how to suggest a change — as far as I know if enough people do this, it will force the change upon the organisation.
  3. I recommend you follow some relevant people and organisations. I’ve tagged quite a few in this tweet.

Lifelong activist reporting on climate change, big tech and democracy. I have compassion for all, but little patience for those that abuse their power.