Conservatives take £1m in election ‘dirty money’ from fossil fuel investors responsible for climate emergency, research finds

Exclusive: Greenpeace raises fears that Boris Johnson’s government will be ‘beholden’ to firms ‘making the climate crisis worse’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 11 December 2019 13:46 GMT
‘Voters deserve to know who is propping up these election campaigns,’ the environmental group said
‘Voters deserve to know who is propping up these election campaigns,’ the environmental group said (AP)

The Conservative election campaign has pocketed more than £1m in “dirty money” from investors in the fossil fuels responsible for the climate emergency, research by Greenpeace has found.

The campaign group raised fears that Boris Johnson’s government would be “beholden” to firms helping to fund the coal, oil and gas industries and “making the climate crisis worse”.

“The motives behind these donations are unknown, but there has to be suspicion about whether donors’ interests may shape the future government’s response to the climate crisis we’re in,” said Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s director of policy.

“Voters deserve to know who is propping up these election campaigns and, if elected, how they may get preferential treatment with the governing party who has taken their dirty money.”

The investigation, by Greenpeace UK’s investigative journalism unit Unearthed, and shared with The Independent, also highlights two large donations to the Liberal Democrats from fossil fuel investors.

The analysis comes amid criticism of the Conservatives for passing a legal commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but without announcing the measures necessary to achieve it.

The climate crisis has barely been mentioned by the prime minister during the campaign and he boycotted the Channel 4 debate on the issue – when he was replaced by a melting ice sculpture.

But the Conservatives said all their donations were “properly and transparently declared” and argued they had “boosted renewables to record levels”.

Greenpeace went through donations to the Tories during the first three weeks of the campaign, highlighting:

* Jonathan Wood (£500,000) – whose hedge fund SRM Global is a major investor in Rockhopper Exploration, a British oil and gas firm with offshore licences near the Falkland Islands.

* Shore Capital (£258,000) – an investment group which has recently underwritten oil and gas deals in Africa.

* James Adam Reuben (£248,000) – a director at Reuben Brothers Resources Group, a branch of the private equity company RBR Mining that invests in coal, iron ore and metals, as well as in renewable energy.

* Andrew Law (£208,500) – the head of the hedge fund Caxton Associates, which has invested £27m in Cheniere Energy, an exporter of shale gas from the US.

* Unatrac (£75,000) – an equipment supplier to the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, Russia and Africa.

* Pelham Capital Investments Ltd (£50,000) – an investment management firm with big holdings in oil companies operating in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, the Middle-East and the US.

The Lib Dems took £75,000 from a subsidiary of oil and gas industry investors Attestor Capital and £60,000 from Davide Serra, whose firm has shares in a US fracking “pioneer”.

“These are significant individual donations, of up to half a million pounds, from hedge funds and financiers with tens of millions invested in businesses that are driving the climate emergency,” Mr Parr said.

But a Tory spokesperson said: “The Conservative Party is funded by membership, fundraising and donations. Donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.

“The Conservatives have reduced emissions by a quarter, part of the fastest reduction by any G20 nation, and boosted renewables to record levels.”

In a statement, the Lib Dems pointed to commitments in their manifesto to require all UK-registered companies, and those listed on stock exchanges, to report on climate change targets “consistent with the Paris Agreement”.

The party would also regulate financial services to encourage green investments and create new powers for regulators to act if banks and other investors are not managing climate risks properly.

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