Regulator urged to strip 'fossil fuel lobby group' of its charitable status

A coalition involving environmentalists and MPs is calling on regulators to strip think tank Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) of its charitable status.

The move follows media reports that allege the Foundation, which says it promotes “a balanced and rational approach to climate change”, has been receiving funding from fossil fuel companies.

The group, led by Extinction Rebellion, has written a letter to the Charity Commission stating that “we contend that the GWPF is not a charity but a fossil fuel lobby group”.

According to the campaigners’ letter: “Not only does the Foundation continue to ignore the parameters set by The Charities Act 2011, but it also compounds previous infractions with more recent actions which flout the Charity Commission’s requirement that charities must run ‘for the public benefit’.”

The campaign group says that continued charity status for the group will “inevitably bring the reputation of other charities, and the Charity Commission itself, into disrepute”.

Among organisations to sign the letter are Climate Museum UK, Frack Free Sussex, Green Christian, and Christian Climate Action.

MPs to sign include Labour’s Clive Lewis and Nadia Whittome and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.

Their letter states: “In promoting views that are not precautionary, and work against the public need to prepare, mitigate and adapt to the unfolding climate emergency, the GWPF neither serves nor benefits society.

“Recent revelations of their secret funding sources make them nothing more than a fossil fuel lobby hiding behind charitable status.

“We believe the revelations of its financial support from oil and gas interests render its charity status as void.”

Writers including Zadie Smith as well as scientists from Cambridge, Cardiff, Kent and Newcastle universities have also signed the letter to the Charity Commission.

A Charity Commission spokesperson has confirmed the regulator has “received the letter and will assess all of the information shared with us to inform any next steps.”

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