By Christopher Booker
Last December, our television screens were filled with scenes of young demonstrators from all over the world parading through the streets of Copenhagen to call for action to halt global warming. Few people will have been aware, though, that they were being funded with the aid of millions of pounds from British taxpayers. What makes this even more curious is that the money was provided by a body set up to promote British culture internationally.
Last Sunday, when I reported on some of the ways in which an array of British ministries have poured hundreds of millions of pounds into projects related to climate change, I overlooked one branch of government which has been as active in the cause of saving the planet as any – the British Council, created more than 70 years ago to stage lectures on Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and to spread the use of the English language.
In recent years, however, on the initiative of Lord Kinnock when he was its chairman, the British Council has been hijacked to promote the need for action on climate change. In answer to a Freedom of Information request, we can now see some of the curious ways in which the British Council has been spending our money.
More than £3.5 million has gone on recruiting a worldwide network of young “climate activists” in over 70 countries to engage in climate change propaganda – what Marxists used to call agitprop – and to pressure their politicians to join the worldwide struggle. Under a programme called Challenge Europe, £1.1 million has been paid out to fund young “climate advocates” in 17 countries across Europe, including Britain itself. But £2.5 million has been spent on a more ambitious project to recruit a global network of 100,000 activists in 60 countries across the world, led by 1,300 young “International Climate Champions”, to participate in “international peer networks, both in person and online, to share ideas, projects and experiences”.
Of this sum, £303,093.24 went to China; £71,262.91 to Brazil; £53,006.25 to Japan; £70,132.88 to India (including £11,000 to Dr Pachauri’s Teri institute); £77,507.89 to oil-rich Qatar; and £50,000 to the US. There was £120,000 for a dozen different countries in Africa, including £14,000 to fund climate champions in starving Zimbabwe.
All this, it is comforting to know, is being led by the climate-change activist Dr David Viner, formerly employed by East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (the focus of the “Climategate” emails scandal), who is most famous for the prediction he made in 2001, that within a few years winter snow would become “a very rare and exciting event”. No doubt the climate champions we are funding in the eastern US will have been grateful for our support last week as they tried to explain the several feet of snow across the region which broke records established in the 1880s. What it all has to do with Macbeth or Pride and Prejudice is something of a mystery.