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Ross McKitrick, Photo: YouTube screen grab (see embed).
Ross McKitrick, Photo: YouTube screen grab (see embed).
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Greenpeace 'peer review' climate sting's first scalp?

Brendan Montague /

6th January 2015

A leading member of the climate change-skeptic Global Warming Policy Foundation has resigned from his post in the wake of a Greenpeace investigation that exposed its phoney 'peer review' process. But he insists: 'nothing going on here!'

The review process received by this paper would not generally be described as peer-review. I have not encountered other instances of similar publications being cited as peer-reviewed in either academia, or science journalism.

Climate denier Professor Ross McKitrick has resigned as chairman of the academic advisory council of Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), according to a statement released by the charity.

The senior fellow of the ExxonMobil- and Koch-funded Fraser Institute in Canada told DeSmog UK he had informed Lord Lawson at the GWPF in September that he intended to stand down citing increased work commitments.

The academic confirmed his stepping down had nothing to do with the high-profile investigative sting by Greenpeace last month which raised serious concerns about the council's claims to conduct peer reviews of its publications.

McKitrick said: "I decided [to step down] late last summer, because of other commitments I had. And so, I notified them at the beginning of September that I would be leaving at the end of December."

Asked about the GWPF's peer review claims, he said: "I am confident the process was as described and I don't have any further comment to make to you other than what was released before Christmas."

'I'm afraid Greenpeace has got it wrong' - or maybe not ...

DeSmog UK emailed the GWPF on 8th December 2015, hours after Greenpeace published its agenda-setting investigation, asking whether McKitrick would be asked to resign in light of the charity's academic publications apparently being sold out to an oil and gas man.

Dr Benny Peiser, the former part-time sports anthologist and director of the GWPF, said then: "I'm afraid Greenpeace has got it wrong."

An undercover investigator from Greenpeace telephoned and exchanged emails with Professor Will Happer - also a member of the GWPF advisory council - posing as a Middle East oil and gas company representative.

During the exchange, Happer discussed producing a report praising CO2 that which would then be passed through the GWPF's "peer review" process. He explained this was significantly easier than trying to publish in a journal. He also asked that any fee be paid to another climate denial charity.

The scandal made the front page in Britain and France during the COP21 climate conference in Paris. The Charity Commission has confirmed it will consider the Greenpeace evidence as part of an ongoing inquiry into the GWPF.

'Peer review' or rubber stamp?

Adam Levy, from the respected Nature journal, told openDemocracy a report described as peer reviewed by the GWPF had not gone through the process in any meaningful way.

"The review process received by this paper is not what would generally be described as peer-review. I have not encountered other instances of similar publications being cited as peer-reviewed in either academia, or science journalism", he said.

McKitrick is something of a hero in climate denial circles for recruiting Steve McIntyre to the cause and collaborating on a decade-long attack on Professor Michael Mann and the hockey stick graph, which climaxed with the Climategate hacking.

The resignation comes almost exactly a year after McKitrick took up the post, replacing David Henderson who also stood down at his own request. Professor Christopher Essex, a longtime collaborator, will take over. McKitrick will remain a member of the council.

Lord Lawson and Dr Benny Peiser were contacted by DeSmog UK but have not yet responded with a comment. However Lawson stated in a press release:

"I am most grateful to Ross, whose work over the past year has been outstanding. He will be a hard act to follow, but I am confident that Chris is the man to do it."



This article was originally published on

Brendan Montague writes for Follow Brendan @brendanmontague.

Also on The Ecologist: 'Climate academics for hire conceal fossil fuel funding' by Lawrence Carter & Maeve McClenaghan / Greenpeace Energydesk.


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