By Kyla Mandel • Monday, December 11, 2017 – 00:00
Former environment secretary Owen Paterson made the rounds with some of the top climate science deniers on a tour of the US this autumn to promote a “special relationship” post-Brexit.
The Shropshire MP travelled to Washington D.C. in October, DeSmog UK can reveal, where he met with infamous climate science deniers Lamar Smith, James Inhofe, and Myron Ebell. He also gave speeches at both the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation – two libertarian think tanks known for promoting climate science denial and working against environmental regulations.
Paterson’s visits are the latest in a string of meetings between pro-Brexit UK politicians (such as international trade secretary Liam Fox) and US climate science denial groups.
The individuals and groups that Paterson met have worked to influence the current Trump administration, particularly when it comes to climate, energy and the environment.
Ebell, the director of energy and environment at CEI, worked on Trump’s transition team – though it was later revealed he had never actually spoken to the president-elect.
Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and is perhaps most famous for bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor to illustrate his argument that global warming isn’t happening.
Smith meanwhile is the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology and is known for his attacks on the US Environmental Protection Agency and for defending ExxonMobil’s climate science denial.
In a tweet following his meeting with Inhofe and Ebell at the CEI, Paterson wrote: “Real opportunities to work more closely with the USA post-Brexit.”
— Owen Paterson MP (@OwenPaterson)
At the CEI, Paterson focused on the environmental benefits of Brexit in a speech entitled “Brexit: Good for the UK, good for the USA and good for the planet”.
Speaking to an invitation-only audience, Paterson said: “The EU’s environmental approach – and its attitude towards innovation more widely – has stifled progress at the expense of both the consumer and the planet. Brexit, in allowing the UK the chance to break free of this wrong-headed, statist, anti-science thinking, cannot come soon enough.”
He continued: “The EU has single-mindedly pursued an overly prescriptive interpretation of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ smothering opportunities for innovation in thrall to the emotions of vocal activists rather than scientific evidence and advice.
“The green blob dominates thinking in Brussels, with generous grants given to green groups so that they will lobby it for regulations which then require large budgets to enforce.”
Paterson famously blamed the “green blob” for his being fired from his role as environment secretary in 2014.
Brexit will allow rules to be determined at the local level instead, Paterson argued, and could help tackle invasive species through better border control as well as allow for greater innovation including genetically-modified crops.