Politics

Who is Michael Hintze? The Tory funder and climate sceptic about to be made a Lord

Hedge fund billionaire Michael Hintze is about to become a controversial member of the House of Lords, according to the Sunday Times.

Michael Hintze

Following two by-election defeats, the resignation of Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden, and a disastrous address at a Conservative fundraising dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Boris Johnson is about to make its most prominent Tory donor, Sir Michael Hintze, a member of the House of Lords, according to a Sunday Times report over the weekend.

Michael Hintze, a British-Australian billionaire, is a founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a UK think tank that was founded in 2009 by former Conservative chancellor, Nigel Lawson, who has a history of making misleading claims about climate change.

GWPF has long been accused of leading the backlash against the government’s net zero policy and spreading misinformation about climate change with “little or no regard” to scientific evidence. James Hansen, a leading Nasa climate scientist, described the organisation as “one link in a devious manipulation of public opinion [regarding climate change]”.

In May, the prominent think tank was accused of breaching Charity Commission guidelines by accepting donations from oil and gas interests. The charity watchdog received a letter from a consortium of more than 70 scientists, MPs, peers and campaigners, calling for it to strip the group of its charitable status.

The think tank has always refused to fully disclose its donors. However, in 2012, the Guardian reported it had seen correspondence sent by Hintze in which he appeared to indicate he was financially supporting the lobby group. At the time, Downing Street was forced to reveal that the billionaire had been among the leading Tory donors who were invited to privately dine with the then prime minister David Cameron, as a “thank you” following the 2010 general election.

The hedge fund manager will be joined by several other climate sceptic peers in the House of Lords, including Claire Fox, a former Brexit Party MEP, who has frequently dismissed climate science, describing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “advocacy research”, and Anne Widdicombe, who has a long history in rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

In response to Hintze’s impending peerage, Green MP Caroline Lucas has called for an ‘urgent’ investigation, describing the move as “utter hypocrisy” in light of Boris Johnson’s pledge to take climate action during the COP26 UN climate summit in 2021.

Speaking to DeSmog, Lucas said the House of Lords Commission must “urgently” investigate the appointment, accusing him of “funding the destruction of the planet.”

“It’s already an insult to democracy that the prime minister is stuffing the House of Lords with his billionaire Tory donors,” said the Green MP.

“But the fact that those billionaires are funding climate denial and delay – barely six months after he claimed we were at ‘one minute to midnight’ in a race to avert the impending climate crisis – exposes the utter hypocrisy of any climate pledge that comes out of his mouth.”

“The House of Lords Commission must urgently investigate this appointment – we can’t let the government fill our parliament with people funding the destruction of our planet,” Lucas added.

Who is Michael Hintze?

Sir Michael Hintze is a British-Australian businessman who is based in the UK. He is the founder and co-CEO of CQS, a credit-specialist multi-strategy asset manager. As well as donating £4.7 million to Conservative causes, he gave £100,000 to Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, co-founded by Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliot, and supported by Boris Johnson. Hintze also has a history of donating to climate sceptic Tory MPs, including Andrew Lewer. In January, Lewer signed a ‘Net Zero Scrutiny Group’ letter to the prime minister, urging the government to cut green tariffs whilst expanding domestic fossil fuel supplies.

The hedge fund manager is also a trustee of the influential think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IAE). The IAE has played a significant role in advocating a ‘hard’ Brexit and has connections to the Net Zero Scrutiny Group. Made up of a group of Tory MPs, the Net Zero Scrutiny Group opposes many of the government’s net zero policies.

Hintze is also well-recognised for his philanthropic activities. In 2014, he made a £5 million donation to London’s Natural History Museum, which led to the venue’s central gallery being renamed ‘Hintze Hall.’

According to the Sunday Times 2019 Rich List, Hintze’s net worth is £1.5 billion. In 2016, Forbes magazine’s list of The World’s Billionaires, listed him as the world’s 1,011th richest person, with a net worth of around US$1.8 billion. 

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