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What are Friends for? Did this cabal of mega-rich climate zealots sway Sunak?


One of the many curiosities of Rishi Sunak’s sudden anointing as Prime Minister was his near-immediate U-turn on COP27. Despite initially saying he was too busy to go to the climate conference in Egypt, he turned up there on November 7 and gave a speech. What made him change his mind? Stephen McMurray has been investigating. Today, in the first of two articles, he focuses on the ‘Friends of COP26’, a circle of extremely wealthy men and women who wield disproportionate lobbying power and influence in prioritising ‘climate change’ over sound economic and energy policy. 

THE British government’s obsession with Net Zero is rapidly taking us on the road to destruction. We won’t achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions, but we will achieve zero energy supplies, zero growth, zero food and zero hope of recovering from this self-inflicted calamity.  

 At present, the man at the wheel along the road to catastrophe is Rishi Sunak. My question is: Is he driving under the influence? I am not referring to alcohol or drugs, but a much more addictive substance – apocalypticism.  

As Sunak had initially planned not to attend the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, we must look at those people that may have influenced him into changing his mind. In this respect it is interesting to highlight a group called Friends of COP26, who wrote an open letter to him shortly after he announced he would not be going to COP27. The signatories comprise only part of the Friends. A full list is on their website. 

One is Dr Andrew Steer, CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. Yes, that would be the same Jeff Bezos who owns $20million worth of motor vehicles, two jets and a yacht. Steer’s past roles include the head of the World Bank in Vietnam and Indonesia, co-chair of the Climate Change Committee for HSBC, and member of the Advisory Committees of the Asian Development Bank and Bank of America. He is a Global Agenda Trustee for the World Economic Forum. 

Another member is James Skea, professor of sustainable energy at Imperial College London. The same Imperial College where Professor Neil Ferguson works, the man whose ridiculous computer modelling forced us all into lockdown for two years.  

Skea also worked for BlackRock, the investment company that manages a quarter of the world’s money supply and was criticised as being ‘the largest owner of fossil fuel companies and single largest contributor to climate destruction’, and whose contentious political ties and influences have been described in these pages. In addition, Skea worked for the UK government as Director-General, Department of International Development (DFID) in London. 

Nick Mabey, another Friend of COP26, is a member of the World Economic Forum. He was a senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit established by Tony Blair, leading work on climate change.

He too has a link to the banking world, being on the board of the UK Green Investment Bank Commission. The bank was formerly part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, but is now privately owned by the Australian financial services company Macquarie Group. Contrary to the Green Investment Bank’s climate agenda, this group promotes investments in the mining industry, petrochemicals and oil products.  

A powerful figure amongst the Friends of COP26 is Selwin Hart, special adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on climate action and Assistant Secretary-General on the Climate Action Team. Previously he was Executive Director for the Caribbean region at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). 

The IDB is a strange body in that it is owned by 48 countries which are its shareholders. However, only 26 countries, called the borrowing countries, may take out loans. The borrowing countries are also the majority shareholders and therefore make the decisions. Basically, they are lending money to themselves and have total oversight of that money. But there is nothing to be concerned about, because according to their Wikipedia entry, ‘though this arrangement was first viewed as risky, it is believed by some that strict peer pressure prevents the borrowers from defaulting even when under severe economic pressure’. 

Obviously, there is no possibility of corruption, since a stern word or two from their fellow borrowers on the board would act as a reminder – should it ever slip their minds – that, at some point, they had to return the millions they had borrowed to pay for their pet projects.  

It is just as well that everything is above board, because the UK government agreed to pay £177million to the IDB in 2017 so they could invest in the ‘UK Sustainable Infrastructure’ programme in Latin America.  

No doubt it is money well spent, even though the IDB has been criticised by the Bank Information Centre which said: ‘Civil society groups have long been concerned about the negative impacts the IDB’s operations have on the environment and on indigenous and traditional peoples, as well as on the prospects for genuine economic and democratic in the region.’  

Hart also made it clear that the UN will be ruthlessly pursuing Net Zero when he said in an interview that his priorities would be ‘no bail-outs for polluting companies; abandoning perverse fossil fuel subsidies; ending investment in and construction of coal-fired power plants by 2020’. 

Then there is Sir Ian Cheshire. He has been the Government’s lead Non-Executive Member of the Cabinet Office Board. Yet again, we have a COP26 Friend with a link to the banking industry: he was previously a director of Barclays. In 2107 he was appointed chairman of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. At the time it was claimed that Sir Ian’s role would be ‘overseeing and protecting standards and securing food supply; reforming public investment and the livelihoods of rural communities and making the most of any new trading opportunities’. I am not sure how securing the food supply can be reconciled with the idea of reducing carbon dioxide to zero and thereby destroying all plant life, or how supporting the livelihoods of rural communities can be done by promoting the decimation of cattle and dairy farming. 

Next, we have Varun Sivaram, aged 32 or 33. He has worked for the Council for Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, and the Aspen Institute whose stated aim is to create a free, just and equitable society. How it is supposed to do that when it is funded by the Rockefellers and the Bill Gates Foundation is open to debate.  

Lord (Adair) Turner is another Friend of COP26 with links to the financial sector. He was chairman of the Financial Services Authority in 2008, but did not apologise for its role in failing to foresee the banking collapse. Despite such a poor showing, he insisted on 15 per cent bonuses for FSA staff. He worked for Chase Manhattan Bank and was vice-chairman of Merrill Lynch, and worked for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, funded by George Soros. 

The World Economic Forum links run deep within the Friends of COP26. Paul Polman was a member and co-chaired the forum in 2012. He has worked for the UN and is part of the ‘B Team’ which supposedly advocates for business practices that are more centred on humanity and the climate. Its co-founders are Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Harley-Davidson; I am not sure how planes, trains and motorbikes help prevent the climate apocalypse. 

Now we come to the biggest player on the COP26 list – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian-American economist. She is Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, is on the board of Standard Chartered Bank, Bill Gates’s GAVI: Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Previously she was on the board of Twitter.  

She has been Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Finance Minister, and worked for 25 years at the World Bank, with stints at the International Monetary Fund and the UN. She is a member of G30, ‘an independent global body comprised of economic and financial leaders from the public and private sectors and academia. It aims to deepen understanding of global economic and financial issues, and to explore the international repercussions of decisions taken in the public and private sectors’. 

On the board of G30 with her is Lord Turner from COP26, members of the IMF, the Council on Foreign Relations, two former US Treasury Secretaries, former high-level employees of the US Federal Reserve, the former Italian Prime Minister, the former heads of various central banks and Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England. 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also on the B Team, and is listed by Forbes as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women. 

There is one more friend of COP26 who has a more direct link to Rishi Sunak: Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. The CIFF is the philanthropic arm of the Children’s Investment Fund, the hedge fund founded by Sir Christopher Hohn for which Sunak used to work. Hohn is Extinction Rebellion’s largest single donor. While expressing his financial support for the eco-zealots, Hohn has shares in Canadian railway companies, Union Pacific and Raytheon, which makes aircraft parts. He has a $730million investment in Heathrow and has shares in a Spanish company called Ferrovial, which manages seven UK airports. His investment firm holds a stake in an Indian coal company. 

Hampton was previously head of policy at Climate Change Capital, an investment firm advising companies on how to make money out of clean energy opportunities. She was the Senior Policy Adviser for the UK’s G8 and EU presidencies in 2005 and is a World Economic Forum young leader. 

CIFF collaborated with the Gates Foundation on a project called FP2030 to provide more access to contraception in developing countries. It also worked with the Gates Foundation to provide affordable HIV tests to developing nations and donated 25million dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Hampton was one of the main people pushing for the insane idea of climate reparations. 

Tomorrow Stephen McMurray will shine a light on the MPs and peers who have Sunak’s ear and on the links of the Prime Minister’s own family with the climate change industry – not least those of his wife Akshata and his father-in-law Narayana Murthy, the billionaire founder of the IT company Infosys. 

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Stephen McMurray
Stephen McMurray
Stephen McMurray is a member of the Free Speech Union and an ardent truth-seeker.

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