No More Climate Lies: Writers target secretive Tufton Street lobby groups
September 02, 2020 by Extinction Rebellion
- From 6pm this evening, Writers Rebel will target 55 Tufton Street, home of climate denying think tanks including the Global Warming Policy Foundation
- Writers Sir Mark Rylance and Zadie Smith will speak at the event, along with journalist George Monbiot and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Actress Juliet Stevenson CBE will be the host
- Following the speeches, members of Extinction Rebellion will risk arrest with an act of civil disobedience
Today at 6pm, the Extinction Rebellion group Writers Rebel will take 20 high profile and award-winning novelists, poets and screenwriters to 55 Tufton Street, London, to speak out against climate science denial and the influence of climate sceptic think tanks on UK politics.
There is a press call at 6pm on 55 Tufton Street for a photo opportunity with writers and speakers.
The event then begins at 6.30pm with speeches from Caroline Lucas MP, followed by author, journalist and activist George Monbiot.
Writers joining the group are Zadie Smith, author of NW and White Teeth; Sir Mark Rylance, the actor and first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre; Laline Paull, award-winning novelist of The Bees, playwright and screenwriter; Rachel Edwards, author of Darling; Nick Laird, poet and author; Marina Warner, author and critic; Josh Appignanesi, film-maker and writer; Anouchka Grose, psychoanalyst, writer and journalist; Charlotte du Cann, writer, editor and co-director of the Dark Mountain project; Chidi Oti-Obihara, Green Party member.
At 9pm, host Juliet Stevenson CBE will read a message of support and words from Margaret Atwood, while half a dozen writers and other activists will risk arrest by blockading the entrance to 55 Tufton Street with paint, stencils and other physical methods.
The action ‘NO MORE LIES: TELL THE CLIMATE TRUTH’ will take over the usually quiet Tufton Street to target organisations that are worsening the climate and ecological emergency through their oil-money-backed lobbying. These groups include many housed at 55 and 57 Tufton Street, addresses that have become synonymous with climate science denial and home to many right-wing ideological groups with links to oil, agribusiness and both houses of Parliament. These include the UK’s principal climate science denial group The Global Warming Policy Foundation, launched in 2009 by Nigel Lawson and Benny Peiser and advised by climate skeptic and Tory peer Viscount Matthew Ridley ; and The Centre for Policy Studies, whose deputy chair is Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs.
On the day that Caroline Lucas tables the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which calls for a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency, speakers will call on MPs to back the bill. Decades of corporate lobbying and party politics have led to a climate and ecological emergency that poses an unprecedented existential threat to humanity and all life on Earth. The Citizens’ Assembly will be run by non-governmental organisations under independent oversight. This is the fairest and most powerful way to cut through party politics.
Speaking by video to support the launch last week, comedian and author Stephen Fry said: “It’s sickening how much money is being spent on think tanks and professional lobbyists to spread confusion, lies and doubt on the subject of man-made climate change and its horribly real threat. These people and their huge corporations funding them are utilising exactly the same playbook that big tobacco used to sow doubt and confusion over the clear scientific evidence that emerged about smoking. The truth will always out in the end though.
“Eventually, even the vested interests trying to discredit Extinction Rebellion and its supporters, even they won’t be able to keep lying. But by then so much terrible damage will have been done to the planet and millions of its citizens. We can’t keep letting this deliberate climate denial stand. We have to stand up and expose the lies.”
The action is coordinated with forthcoming XR group Money Rebellion which is targeting the finance industry for its inaction on the climate and ecological emergency and investment in destructive practices. At 5pm XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook will deliver a talk on the economics of the climate emergency, in advance of the writers event at 6.30pm.
Dr Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, said: “The current economic system we have is killing life on earth and we desperately need a grown up conversation about something different. Bodies like the IEA won’t reveal their funders and yet are often given airtime advocate for free market fundamentalism, as if it is a law of nature. We want a Citizens Assembly to rewire our economic system so that it stops harming and starts repairing the damage done.”
Writers Rebel aims to galvanise writers and the publishing, literary and creative industries to commit to using their voices to tell the truth about the emergency, in order to inspire readers and the public to take action for social and cultural transformation. They feature the likes of A L Kennedy, Zadie Smith, Ed Vulliamy and Sir Simon Schama on their blog at www.writersrebel.com.
Writers Rebel urges anyone with insider information about the climate and ecological crisis to share it through the XR-supported whistle-blowing website www.TruthTeller.Life. Anyone with evidence about how lobbyists, think tanks or PR firms are misleading the public can visit www.TruthTeller.Life for help anonymously disclosing what they know. For more information about TruthTeller.Life contact Zoë Blackler on 07918 165 046.
Timings for the speakers are as follows (subject to change on the day):
18.30 Welcome and intro by Jessica Townsend, Writers Rebel co-founder.
18.40 Welcome to Mark Rylance and Juliet Stevenson
18.45 Caroline Lucas
18.50 George Monbiot
18.55 Laline Paull
19.00 Carmen Callil
19.05 Esther Standford-Xosei
19.10 Rupert Read
19.15 Zadie Smith
19.20 Anouchka Grose
19.25 Rachel Edwards
20.00 Juliet takes over
20.05 William Davies
20.10 Charlotte Du Cann
20.15 Chidi Oti Obihara
20.20 Nick Laird
20.25 Marina Warner
20.30 Paul Hilder
20.35 Jay Griffith
20.40 Josh Appignanesi
20.45 Devorah Baum
20.50 Juliet Stevenson and Mark Rylance – Thank you for attending.
21.00 Margaret Atwood piece to be read by Juliet Stevenson
Information for Editors
 Writers Rebel launched their event with a video message of support from Stephen Fry, see https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/stephen-fry-extinction-rebellion-writers-rebel-think-tank-lawson-a9681596.html
 For more information on 55 Tufton Street, visit https://www.desmog.co.uk/55-tufton-street
 For more information on the Global Warming Policy Foundation specifically, visit https://www.desmog.co.uk/global-warming-policy-foundation
 For more information on the Centre for Policy Studies specifically, visit https://www.desmog.co.uk/centre-policy-studies
 For more information on the Institute of Public Affairs specifically, visit https://www.desmogblog.com/institute-economic-affairs
For an overview of links between Tufton Street, lobbyists and the Conservative government, visit https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/08/01/boris-johnson-cabinet-tufton-street-ties-map
Find out more about the writers supporting Writers Rebel and Extinction Rebellion at www.writersrebel.com
A list of public actions from Extinction Rebellion and affiliated groups can be found at https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2020/08/29/september-rebellion-actions-speakers-schedule/
About Writers Rebel
Writers Rebel was born in the summer of 2019, when a discussion about literature’s lack of engagement with the climate and ecological crisis led to a small group of writers deciding to take action. The group launched during Extinction Rebellion’s October Rebellion at a marathon reading event in Trafalgar Square. Forty of the UK’s leading writers – including Simon Schama, Robert Macfarlane, Susie Orbach, Ali Smith, Irenosen Okojie, Philip Hoare and Naomi Alderman – came together to read work about the climate and ecological emergency. Zadie Smith and Margaret Atwood supported from afar with an exclusive recording and interview.
ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.
- Start a group where you are: in the UK or around the world.
- Find your local group.
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.
- And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.