Forget emissions, it’s all about the fuel: where alt-climate ideas grow

Institute for Public Affairs

The Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) is perhaps the best-known of Australia’s free market think tanks, though its funders are a closely-kept secret.

The institute has “concluded” that hazard reduction and fuel loads are “clearly” the primary issue in the spread of bushfires and that the government needs to get rid of the red tape which has got in the way of clearing vegetation.  

“Native Vegetation Laws in Australia need to be completely overhauled to empower property owners,” said IPA head John Roskam.

As the fires raged in early December last year, the IPA conducted a survey of 1016 people which found:

  • 58% of Australians believe Australia has too much red tape
  • 64% of Australians believe unelected bureaucrats have too much control over our lives.

“This polling confirms Australia is in a red tape crisis,” said IPA Director of Research Daniel Wild.

The Bushfire Front

The Bushfire Front (BFF) is a Western Australian outfit that has gained a national profile in the pages of The Australian.

It argues for better techniques for managing fires and denies the role of climate change in the bushfire crisis. According to the its website, committee member Roger Underwood has more than 40 years experience in managing bushfires and is a former general manager of the Western Australian government’s now defunct conservation and land management department.

Underwood, too, focuses on fuel load as a prime cause of bushfires. At the same time he has lashed “Emergency Leaders for Climate Action”, a group of former fire chiefs led by ex-NSW fire and rescue commissioner Greg Mullins, who pointed to climate change — and the government’s inaction — as a key factor during the bushfire crisis.

Underwood has trodden the well-worn path reserved for climate contrarians, also getting a run on Sky News and 2GB.

Writing in the conservative Quadrant magazine, Underwood alleged “the climate change industry” was  benefiting from bushfires because governments have been “taken in by the scam advice that climate change is causing bushfire disasters”.

“There is no question,” he wrote, “that the renewable energy industry has been (albeit indirectly) a significant beneficiary of large, damaging bushfires.”

The Green Shirts Movement

The Green Shirts Movement describes itself as a grassroots movement that is “not aligned politically”.

In truth, it is highly organised with ties to the National Party and represents a powerful new voice in the modern climate-denialism movement. 

Formed in 2018 in response to proposed changes to Queensland’s vegetation laws, it has since emerged as a leading voice for rural workers and farmers fighting against environmental protection laws, which they say are threatening their way of life.

The group is seeking to “reclaim green” from environmental groups who it calls “lawbreaking extremists”. It vehemently disputes evidence of climate change and says claims that the Great Barrier Reef is dying have been fabricated.

In September the group travelled to Canberra with controversial IPA-backed scientist Peter Ridd (see below) in order to fight new measures limiting fertilisers and pesticides to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which it says are based on “questionable science” and will cause significant cost to industry. 

The group’s connection to the Nationals runs deep. In October, then-Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie and Nationals MP Matt Canavan couldn’t resist donning a green shirt for a photo opp in Rockhampton, alongside another Nationals MP, Michelle Landry.

Landry and Canavan have been key drivers of the pro-coal Go Adani and Go Galilee Basin campaigns in regional Queensland.

The group’s founder and chief organiser is Mackay regional councillor and former rugby league footballer Martin Bella, who has previously run for the National Party in the state seat of Mackay. 

The group is also closely aligned with Queensland farm lobby AgForce, which drew criticism last year for deleting more than a decade’s worth of data from a government program that aimed to improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

Australian Environment Foundation

The Australian Environment Foundation portrays itself as “a different kind of environment group” with an emphasis on “facts, evidence and scientific analysis”.

While it might sound like a greenie group, it has been claimed that the foundation was started as a front organisation for the IPA.

One of the foundation’s directors is former James Cook University professor Peter Ridd, whose cause has been championed by the conservative media after he was sacked by the university over comments questioning climate change science around the Great Barrier Reef. He was later awarded $1.2 million in an unfair dismissal payout. 

The foundation says it exists to protect the environment, while — like its cousin the IPA — preserving “the rule of law, property rights, and the freedom of the individual”. 

Volunteer Fire Fighters Association

The legitimacy of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA), which calls itself “the voice of volunteer fire fighters in NSW”, was called into question at the height of the bushfire crisis in January.

It was revealed that the VFFA is closely associated with former Shooters and Fishers Party candidate Mick Holton. The group hammers the theme that the real cause of catastrophic bushfires is fuel load mismanagement, not climate change.

“We are concerned that the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action are overlooking key elements of land management practice,” the association says. “Climate change is not the culprit, poor land management and bureaucratic fire service mismanagement is more to blame.”

The VFFA quotes the views of retired Monash University researcher David Packham, who also denies a link between global warming and fires. Packham has been quoted as a “leading scientist” by SBS, among other outlets.

Bush logic: behind the influential group fuelling climate denialism

A national poll has found a majority of Australians want to see more action on climate change.

At the same time it revealed a deepening partisan divide around acceptance of the climate science: almost 40% of Liberal and National voters — against 9% of Labor voters — say they have “serious doubts” as to whether climate change is happening. 

With the public debate increasingly muddied by misinformation and vested interests, Crikey takes a look at the influencers shaping public perceptions — and political action — against faster action tackling climate change.

Named after the arid climate plant that naturally captures and stores carbon dioxide, The Saltbush Club brings together veterans of Australia’s climate sceptic-denialist movement, clustered around the formidable figure of Hugh Morgan, one-time CEO of Western Mining and Liberal Party grandee.

Morgan has a long record of influencing conservative government climate policy through pro-fossil fuel and free market groups such as the Lavoisier Group and the Institute of Public Affairs.

Other big names in the Saltbush ranks include former BHP head Jerry Ellis, Melbourne geology academic Ian Plimer, Queensland mining millionaire and serial lobby group participant Viv Forbes, business luminary Sir Roderick Carnegie and prominent blogger and science communicator JoNova (real name Joanne Codling).

Nova is the author of The Skeptics Handbook. Her views have been given prominence in The Australian and on Sky News, and she warrants a long entry in the international DeSmog blog which is devoted to exposing what it calls global warming misinformation campaigns.

Saltbush boasts that it has hundreds of members, including “knights, Senators, MPs, and those with such experiences as state premier, cabinet ministers [and] mayors”. The state premier, by the way, is former Queensland LNP premier Campbell Newman.

The senators are former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, and former Family First senator Bob Day.

“Not one of them,” the website says, “has seen proof that man’s emissions of carbon dioxide can control global climate or will cause dangerous global warming.”

The group is keen to point out that it is not the preserve of the high powered but includes ordinary folk like jackaroos, builders, developers, fitter-and-turners, boiler-makers and power station operators.

It lists the names of hundreds of individual supporters but does not reveal the source of its funds. It also claims to have a large group of “silent members”, who don’t want to be known publicly for fear that exposure would harm their prospects for employment, promotion or business.

The group went public in November 2018 following the Liberal party overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull which appears to have put a spring in the step of the group’s members.

Co-founder and chairman Jerry Ellis said he hoped “the new leadership of the Australian government has the courage to guide our country in a rational manner … and abandons the Paris Treaty”.

Ellis also endorsed Morrison’s newly installed energy minister Angus Taylor, noting that Taylor “seems keen” to take the course of action Ellis considered necessary.

Taylor had previously been a key figure in moves to unseat Turnbull on energy policy.

The Saltbush solution

Saltbush has a long and detailed shopping list of demands, some of which have already been embraced by the Morrison government.

Morrison’s messaging that the government’s response to climate change will focus on “resilience and adaptation” is in tune with the Saltbush Club’s big picture view that the answer does not lie in reducing CO2 emissions or in encouraging renewables.

The group argues that rather than “wasting community savings on low-density intermittent green energy” Australians should ensure essential infrastructure such as water supply, roads, rail lines, airports and power supply is better able to survive the droughts, floods, cyclones and bushfires “that will inevitably recur”.

This is a position close to that set out by Morrison at his recent National Press Club speech when he spoke of the need for “practical action on climate resilience and adaptation”, such as building dams and improving planning for natural disasters.

This, Morrison said, was “climate action now”.

Saltbush advances the rights of rural property owners, calling for an end to “the war” on cattle, sheep and grasslands.

“All property rights should be respected,” it says. “The continuing injustices caused to landowners by the Kyoto Agreement bans on control of woody weeds should cease” (pro-carbon activists have it that Greens “worship” woody weeds).

In his Press Club speech, Morrison pointed to the need “to seriously engage” with issues such as “how we manage native vegetation, how we allow land-owners to clear asset protection zones on their property, where they’re stymied”.

“Hazard reduction is even more important than emissions reduction,” he declared.

From the start, though, Saltbush’s primary target has been the United Nations and its climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as the UN’s Paris Treaty on emissions targets.

Saltbush Club founder Hugh Morgan, characterises the Paris accord as a deception. “People think the Paris Accord is just about commitments to lower CO2,” he says. “It is really about transferring wealth through the UN to the so-called less developed countries”.

For Morgan, the UN’s climate work was about “advancing centralised control of people’s lives on a global scale”.

The assault on the UN — and the risk it supposedly poses to Australian sovereignty — has been picked up by Morrison. Speaking at the Lowy Institute late last year after returning from spending time with US President Donald Trump, Morrison attacked the authority of the UN and what he termed “negative globalism”.

Australia could not accept decisions by an “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy”, he warned.

“The world works best … when the character and distinctiveness of independent nations is preserved within a framework of mutual respect. This includes respecting the electoral mandates of their constituencies.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor took up Morrison’s theme of “negative globalism” in attacking the UN’s role in climate change.

Facing international condemnation for dodging the obligations of the Paris accord by using carry-over accounting of emissions to meet reduction targets, Taylor maintained that “top-down” pressure from the UN to address climate change would fail.

Defending his performance at UN negotiations in Madrid in December, Taylor wrote in The Australian: “There are serious limits to pressuring countries into aggressive top-down targets without ­offering clear pathways to ­deliver. Many countries understandably see that as negative globalism and a gross infringement on their national sovereignty”.

Rejection of the UN is a common theme with organisations allied with Saltbush. The group is affiliated with an international body led by the UK’s Christopher Monckton under the banner of Clexit, named after Brexit and a reference to exiting the UN’s Paris agreements.

The Saltbush Club informal network also includes a dozen other like-minded groups based in Australia and internationally. One of those is the Global Warming Policy Foundation — which, as Inq has previously reported, is linked to London-based Australian hedge fund billionaire and Liberal donor Sir Michael Hintze.

Another is the anonymously funded NSW anti-wind turbine group Stop These Things, which served as a launchpad for Angus Taylor’s political career as federal member for Hume in 2013. 

Conservative pollie in need of a job? Give Michael Hintze a call

Little known Australian hedge fund owner Sir Michael Hintze, whose role in conservative climate politics Inq detailed this week, has made a practice of signing up senior Liberal politicians looking for a life after official office. 

Apart from his patronage of former prime minister Tony Abbott — last heard from denying the reality of climate change at a speech to a leading US free market think tank — Hintze has given roles in his hedge fund company CQS to senior Howard-era conservatives Richard Alston and Alexander Downer.

Both moved into their positions after completing stints as Australian high commissioner to London.

Hintze is a central figure in the ultimate power grouping of UK and Australian conservatives Conservative Friends of Australia, which brings together Downer, former PM John Howard as well as the Liberal Party’s polling, strategy and dark arts guru Sir Lynton Crosby (founder of Crosby Textor).

Their UK counterparts include former Tory leader William Hague.

Hintze and Abbott have refused to disclose why Hintze picked up the tab for the then-member for Warringah’s 2016 travel to, and accommodation in, New York and London. Whatever benefits there might be for Hintze, for Abbott a relationship with the best-connected Australian conservative in London can open doors. 

Since losing the prime ministership in 2015, Abbott appears to have found a friend in veteran Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan, a founder of the European Research Group, the parliamentary group of Tories supporting Brexit and Boris Johnson.

Hannan’s Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists has paid for Abbott’s visits to Europe and Abbott is on the advisory board of another Hannan-linked think tank, the Initiative for Free Trade.

To complete the circle, Hannan was a founder of the Vote Leave campaign which in turn was financed by Hintze.

Fabulously wealthy hedge fund owners such as Hintze have been heavy backers of Brexit Tories because, it is argued, they want to be rid of what they regard as Brussels’ over-regulation.

Free market think tanks in the UK led by Hintze’s powerful Institute for Economic Affairs have argued the case for Brexit and also for scepticism on climate change, which in turn is linked to rising populism.

Tony Abbott recently brought those emerging themes together in a speech at conservative US think tank the Heritage Foundation. He denied any link between climate change and Australia’s bushfire crisis, while heaping praise on US President Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. 

The Heritage Foundation spruiks itself as the most potent of the US free market think tanks, promoting “the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom [and] traditional American values”.

It is awash with cash and, like think tanks around the world, it seeks to write policy for governments to enact. It claims Trump’s 2018 budget adopted 64% of its policy prescriptions. 

The power of secretly-funded free market think tanks around the world exposes holes in parliamentary democracy and the weakness of disclosure laws. It also lays bare an overarching conflict: while championing the values of democracy and the free market, they resist full transparency or external accountability.

And it raises a critical question: who really owns conservative governments? 

‘Money talks’: outrage at billionaire climate sceptic’s political donations

An Inq investigation into a billionaire climate sceptic’s Liberal Party backing speaks to the way Australia’s pitiful political donations regulations “very much run counter to democratic principles”, a political donations expert has told Crikey.

The investigation uncovered that Michael Hintze, a leading free marketeer and sceptic of the role of carbon emissions in climate change, donated $75,000 to former prime minister Tony Abbott’s 2013 election campaign (amongst other Liberal Party support over the years), and has had a long-running business relationship with Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Both Abbott and Taylor have led Coalition attacks on the idea of government support for renewable energy.

Dr Lindy Edwards, a senior lecturer in politics at UNSW researching political donations, said that political donations to individual candidates speaks not only to a desire to “support that individual in the election, but advance their standing in the party”.

“When individuals are able go bring on board chunks of money, that can give them more clout within the party structure. Targeting individuals [with donations] in that way is also about impacting the internal dynamic of the party itself.

“You could make the case that [the donors] are seeking to promote [that candidate’s] values or views within the structure of the party.”

Neither Crikey nor Edwards is suggesting that these were the motivations behind Hintze’s donations to Abbott.

Australia has some of the weakest federal political donation laws in the world: donations are not capped like they are in many countries and some Australian states (such as NSW and Victoria).

Even so, Edwards told Crikey that a donation of $75,000 is “reasonably significant”.

Banks and large corporations generally donate around $100,000 a year, which is “remarkable … considering how much money is at stake in terms of how much [donors] can gain from favourable access,” Edwards said.

“Yes, it’s not illegal, but it’s not illegal because our system is incredibly bad.”

Inq‘s investigation has prompted outrage from several federal politicians.

Independent federal member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, said the revelations spoke to the “urgent need for deep political donation reform in Australia”.

Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt told Crikey that “it’s deeply troubling to see climate-denying members of the billionaire class use their wealth to block essential climate action in Australia”.

“Labor and Liberal both accept millions of dollars from the coal, oil and gas industries,” he said. “Money talks and these donations are blocking action on the major cause of the climate crisis — the mining, burning and exporting of coal, oil and gas.

“Minister Taylor already has a questionable track record and it’s extremely concerning to hear of his relationships with Mr Hintze.”

Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff said it was concerning that climate-change scpetics were donating to the Liberal Party. “But money has always bought influence and any party who says otherwise is not being truthful,” Stirling told Crikey.

Griff said banning corporate donations and placing a $1000 cap on individual donations to parties would “significantly curtail influence”.

Wilkie also suggested lowering the threshold for donation disclosure, demanding the real-time publication of donations, and expanding the definition of donations to include “any activity that has the effect of benefitting any party or candidate”.

“Australia should also consider going further and adopting public funding of election campaigns and caps on election expenditure,” he said. “Such changes would apply to all donors and rein in the broad range of industries, organisations and people who exert excessive influence on Australian politics and public policy.”

Crikey reached out to the Liberal Party’s state presidents for comment on Inq‘s investigation, but did not receive responses by the time of publication.

The minister, the cardinal and the billionaire climate sceptic you’ve probably never heard of

Rupert Murdoch and his influence on climate politics are front and centre of debate right now but there is a second, less well-known Australian billionaire operating from afar who has used his money and access to back conservative political causes. His name is Michael Hintze.

Hintze is a leading free marketeer and sceptic of the role of carbon emissions in climate change. He is a Liberal Party donor. He also has a long-running business relationship with Angus Taylor, Scott Morrison’s minister in charge of emissions reduction. Hintze is also a conservative Catholic who has links to former prime minister Tony Abbott and now gaoled Cardinal George Pell, both of whom are climate change denialists — with Abbott trotting out his denialism at a conservative US think tank today.

Taylor’s office denies that he has discussed climate issues with Hintze, while Abbott has declined to answer. Both though have led Coalition attacks on the idea of government support for renewable energy. Hintze has declined to say whether or not he has discussed climate policy with Taylor or Abbott. In emailed answers he told Inq he donates funds to parties he believes are “best for the country” and that “no influence is sought”.

So who is Michael Hintze?

A ‘political patron’

Sir Michael Hintze, GCSG, AM, is a spectacularly successful hedge fund owner. He operates from his adopted city of London, and has used his wealth to fund the Leave campaign and to shape Tory party Brexit politics and the rise of Boris Johnson.

Hintze has donated millions of pounds to the British Conservative Party, which ensured him access via an elite group of Tory donors called the Leaders Group. He was awarded a knighthood under UK prime minister David Cameron in 2013. Hintze is also a trustee of the powerful UK free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which opposes government moves to tax sugary drinks and to introduce the plain packaging of cigarettes.

Through its trustees, the IEA has built an international coalition of free market organisations which includes the Washington-based Cato Institute, established by the leading US industrialist and libertarian Charles Koch. The IEA does not disclose where it gets its funding. However a Greenpeace investigation revealed that Exxon Mobil was an IEA donor at the time Hintze took on his role as a trustee close to 15 years ago.

The international grouping of free market think tanks operates collectively, pursuing common goals under the banner of the Atlas Network and includes Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). 

Hintze’s activities as a “political patron”, as he describes himself, are well known in the UK but less so in Australia. Yet he has an intriguing set of relationships with both Abbott and Pell. 

The mad monk and the cardinal

Electoral commission records show that in 2013 Michael Hintze donated $75,000 to Abbott’s campaign. This was the year the Coalition gained power on a promise of removing the so-called carbon tax introduced by Labor and reviewing initiatives on renewable energy. Australia’s IPA — a cousin to Hintze’s London-based IEA — won recognition from the international grouping of think tanks for its campaign against the tax.

Hintze donated a further $50,000 to the Liberal Party in the 2016 election .

In 2012, then-shadow treasurer Joe Hockey chose Hintze’s IEA in London to deliver his infamous “Age of Entitlement” speech — a kind of tribute to the virtue of a free market economy and the need to get government out of the equation. It was no doubt music to Hintze’s ears.

Once in power, the Abbott government appointed Hintze to an international panel advising on the 2014 Financial System Inquiry.

When Abbott lost the prime ministership, Hintze didn’t stop supporting him. Far from it.

Abbott’s parliamentary declaration of interests during his years as a backbencher show that Hintze, through his hedge fund company CQS, twice funded Abbott’s overseas ventures. The first was for the Member for Warringah’s accomodation in London for March 20-23, 2016. Later that year, in October, Hintze’s company paid for Abbott’s travel to New York and London, as well as accommodation and hospitality, prior to Abbott attending the UK Conservative Party conference as guest of The Spectator magazine.

Inq‘s estimate of Hintze’s investment in Abbott on these trips alone is around $15,000. 

A year later, in October 2017, the Global Warming Policy Foundation — a UK climate sceptic organisation reportedly linked to Hintze and prominent Tory figures — paid for Abbott’s flights, accommodation and transport when the former prime minister delivered his “Daring to Doubt” speech. It was in this speech that he infamously compared climate change activism to pagan rituals:

Environmentalism has managed to combine a post-socialist instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause … Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We’re more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation does not reveal its funding sources, however newspaper reports have suggested that Hintze is one of them. Hintze has refused to confirm or deny that he has funded the climate sceptic organisation, telling Inq that he doesn’t comment on speculation. Hintze was reportedly a guest on the night of Abbott’s speech. 

In 2011, soon after it was established, the Global Warming Policy Foundation invited George Pell, then-archbishop of Sydney, to give the foundation’s annual address. Though holding no scientific qualifications, Pell had begun to spread his wings as a climate change commentator.

It’s not clear how Abbott, Pell and Hintze came to be in the same circles, but they share a common bond of conservative Catholicism. Hintze received the first of two papal knighthoods in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI made him a commander of the Order of St Gregory. Hintze also funded the building of a new residential wing at Sydney University’s catholic college, St John’s College. Hintze, Abbott — and Joe Hockey — all attended St John’s.

But Hintze’s crowning achievement came in 2014 when he was recommended by Cardinal Pell to a board of experts to advise on the running of the Vatican Bank. This was after Pell had been brought to Rome to whip the Vatican’s finances into shape.

Neither Hintze nor Abbott will comment on why Hintze continued to support the former PM in his role as as backbencher, but by 2017 it was clear that Abbott remained determined to get rid of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott again reached for energy policy as his instrument of destruction. Angus Taylor, then. Turnbull’s minister for law enforcement and cybersecurity became a willing ally.

Taylor declared that Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee did not reflect the values of the Liberal Party. In August 2018 he deserted Turnbull and became a numbers man for Peter Dutton in the Liberal Party leadership spills.

Having been integral to unseating Turnbull over energy policy, Taylor was placed in charge of energy policy and emissions reduction. He came to the role as an opponent of government support for wind turbines. Taylor had campaigned against wind-powered renewable energy — a move that gained him the unstinting support of 2GB’s Alan Jones. As a management consultant, he had also worked on a Minerals Council of Australia project.

Yet less well known is that Taylor has also enjoyed a long-standing business relationship with Michael Hintze.

A growing relationship

Taylor’s parliamentary declaration of interests records that he is a director of a private investment company, Gufee Pty Ltd, which holds shares in a company called Growth Farms. But that declaration doesn’t begin to tell the full story.

Growth Farms is a farm management company which Angus Taylor and his brother, Richard Taylor, set up in 1999 to manage farms on behalf of owners — some living in capital cities or overseas — who needed the expertise of experienced managers. Growth Farms received a major boost when it picked up the business of Michael Hintze who, in 2007, began investing in Australian farmland through his company Michael Hintze Premium Farms.

A rural media profile of the Taylor brothers in 2015 reported that Growth Farms was managing 12 Hintze farms in eastern Australia and that, now elected to parliament, Angus Taylor was a “silent” shareholder in the company.

Richard Taylor took the lead in acquiring and managing Hintze’s farm holdings on behalf of Growth Farms. According to the Hintze Premium Farms website, Taylor left Growth Farms in 2015 to become Hintze’s full-time CEO and managing director. He is now chair of the board of Hintze’s Premium Farms group which, according to its website, has bought up over 40 properties — more than 70,000 hectares — covering cattle, sheep and wheat farming in south-eastern Australia. It’s a part of the country familiar to the Taylors, who were raised near the Snowy Mountains. Richard Taylor continues with Growth Farms as a non-executive director. 

A spokesperson for Hintze Premium Farms has told Inq: “MH Premium Farms conducted a selection process some 12 years ago. The board (which did not and does not include Sir Michael) selected Growth Farms on the basis of merit and price. This selection process pre-dated Angus Taylor’s being an MP by some seven years. MH Premium Farms ceased its relationship with Growth Farms over a year ago.”

Taylor has declared none of this on his register of interests. Nor is he required to under rules introduced by the Hawke government in 1984; MPs only need to declare the known interests of their dependent children and their spouse — not their siblings.

Hintze’s public position is that he “believes there is climate change” but he downplays the role of carbon dioxide emissions. “I believe it is highly likely that the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is in part due to human activity over the past century and that it has been a cause of that warming,” he says. “But the sole focus on CO2 emissions is too narrow.’

Inq has asked Angus Taylor what assurances he can give that there is no conflict of interest in his relationship with Hintze given Hintze’s position on CO2 emissions and Taylor’s ministerial responsibilities for emissions reduction. 

In an emailed response, Taylor’s office denied that there was any conflict of interest. “As a private citizen Mr Hintze’s views are his own. Minister Taylor fully accepts the science of climate change,” the statement said.