By Joshua Dowding
Since August, 155 students, staff members, and university alumni have signed an open letter addressed to the Governors of the university, citing concern with the Chair of Governors decision to become a Trustee to The Global Warming Policy Foundation, known as the GWPF. Dr Jerome Booth’s decision to associate himself with the Foundation in this manner has sparked condemnation from research fellows, PhD researchers and lecturers, a significant number of whom have signed the open letter.
In July, the climate science publication DeSmog UK published an article regarding the recent appearance of Dr Booth’s name on the list of trustees, on the GWPF website. DeSmog reported that Dr Booth’s decision was taken because ‘he was interested in energy policy and believes [that] greater scrutiny of climate policies is needed’. He goes on to say that ‘the GWPF has no collective position on climate science, but encourages open and balanced discussion’. DeSmog also reported that Dr Booth had made an undisclosed number of donations to the GWPF, though no details of these gifts were chronicled.
However, as DeSmog also pointed out, Dr Booth’s asset management company – New Sparta, of which he is currently Chairman – does invest in ‘renewable energy strategies’. Highlighting it as one of the company’s current investment themes.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation describes itself as an ‘all-party and non-party think tank and registered educational charity’, and that while they’re ‘open-minded on the contested science of global warming’, the Foundation is ‘deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of the policies currently being advocated’. The Foundation’s website stresses that they are ‘in no sense anti-environmental’, and that their aim is to ‘provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice’.
While the foundation is not a lobby group, it’s ‘wholly-owned subsidiary’ – The Global Warming Policy Forum – states on its website that it has a growing ‘influence’ among ‘both UK and international policy makers’. The Forum describes itself as a ‘think tank which conducts campaigns and activities which do not fall squarely within the [foundation’s] remit as an educational charity’.
The Ruskin Journal is keen to stress that Dr Booth has no documented affiliation with this wholly-owned subsidiary, though the fact that it is ‘wholly-owned’ is public knowledge and is therefore noteworthy in it’s own right.
The open letter, set to be published in December, suggests that Dr Booth should resign as Trustee of the foundation, believing his involvement with the GWPF to be a ‘direct contradiction’ to the university’s commitment to sustainability. The letter also asks the remaining Governors to be ‘active advocates for sustainability’, stating that the university is ‘recognized for it’s world-leading contributing to sustainability through numerous awards’. The letter also recognizes the ‘many valuable ways’ in which Dr Booth – as Chair of Governors – has contributed to the university throughout his tenure.
Sarah Royston – the letter’s author and inaugural signatory – provided this statement to The Ruskin Journal: ‘As a sustainability researcher, I’m proud of ARU’s strong reputation as a green University, and our pioneering research and teaching on environmental issues. So I was really shocked when a colleague at another university told me that ARU’s chairman was publicly supporting this anti-science lobby group. I hope that Jerome Booth will listen to the staff and students, and stop all involvement with the GWPF’ – Sarah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the university.