Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The aviation tycoon paid anti-Net Zero MP Steve Baker to throw a party at the Conservatives’ summer ball

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Christopher Harborne paid for Mr Baker’s £2,000 summer party ticket and raised concerns about the influence of fossil fuel interests on British politics

Mr Baker – who led Attorney General Suella Braverman’s anti-net-zero bid for election as prime minister in the party’s leadership contest – attended the ball at London’s V&A Museum in June.

Conservative MP Steve Baker, a vocal opponent of the government’s climate change targets, partied the night away at the Conservatives’ summer party this year thanks to the generosity of an airline businessman.

His £2,000 ticket was paid for by Christopher Harborne, owner of AML Global, according to the latest Register of MPs Interests.

AML Global sells aviation fuel through a distribution network that includes “principal and regional oil companies.” Harborne is also the chief executive of Sheriff Global Group, which reportedly trades private jets PoliticsHome.

Emissions from aviation accounted for 7% of the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

As Vice Chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of MPs, Mr. Baker is leading efforts to force the government to abandon its climate agenda.

The financial connection between Mr. Harborne and Mr. Baker exposed by an investigative journalism website DeSmoghas raised new concerns about the impact of fossil fuel interests on British politicians.

“Not surprisingly, the MP trying hardest to slow down climate action is accepting gifts from those who benefit from the fueling of the extreme heat Britain has just experienced,” said Alethea Warrington, campaigns manager at the Climate charity Possible I.

“What remains surprising is that any MP committed to the fossil fuel industry can remain in a position to influence the UK’s vital climate policy. As a bare minimum, all MPs must stop taking dirty money from oil and gas companies and support real action now to protect people from the escalating climate crisis.”

Mr. Baker and Mr. Harborne were both approached I and DeSmog for comment.

As part of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, Mr Baker has spent months lobbying Conservative MPs to oppose the government’s legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Mr. Baker is also a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a secret climate-skeptical think tank. Its campaign arm, Net Zero Watch, opposes any action to reduce emissions. It has never officially announced its backers.

Thailand-based Mr Harborne, meanwhile, has donated millions of pounds to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Earlier this year, Mr Farage founded the Vote Power Not Poverty campaign, which advocates a referendum on Britain’s net-zero target.

Mr Baker isn’t the first MP to raise eyebrows at the source of his donations. Last week, DeSmog reported that Conservative leadership contender Kemi Badenoch received a ticket to a Conservative fundraiser in 2019 from Australian hedge fund manager Michael Hintze, a backer of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

During her campaign, Ms Badenoch proposed pushing back the UK’s net zero target to 2070.

Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt’s leadership campaign received £20,000 from a consultancy run by Terence Mordaunt (no relative), former chair of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

A spokesman for her campaign said Terence Mordaunt’s views “were not shared by Penny”.

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