Motoring Lobbyist Who Slammed ‘Insulate Britain’ Backs Disruptive Fuel Protests

A freight industry lobbyist and climate science denier who claimed road-block protests by green activists were “risking lives” has been acting as an unofficial spokesperson for motorists causing delays on major roads over the price of fuel. 

Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign against fuel duty, which is funded by the Road Haulage Association, has been touring media studios this week as motoring groups caused traffic jams with “go-slow” protests.

The lobbyist appeared on BBC News, ITV News, Sky News, GB News, and TalkTV, despite his history of spreading climate misinformation. 

DeSmog has previously reported on how climate science deniers have been using concerns about energy supply to push a pro-fossil fuel agenda.

Cox runs an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) with Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group which has extensive ties to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group.

Last year, Cox wrote a report with the GWPF for the APPG criticising electric vehicles (EVs) and promoting fuel additives as a climate solution, without disclosing that he ran a company developing one. 

When this was reported by DeSmog and others in March, Cox claimed he would be resigning from the company, Ultimum. He is still listed as an active director on Companies House, however.

‘Chaos to Major Roads’

Ahead of the fuel protests on Monday, which appear to have been organised by grassroots activists, FairFuelUK put out a press release that said “nationwide protests over the rising cost of fuel look set to bring chaos to major roads across the UK”. 

In the statement, Cox was quoted as saying: “These are not just demonstrations against the record excruciatingly high petrol and diesel prices that rise each and every day. They are also about the sickening chronic manipulation of pump prices and the complete lack of scrutiny by our out of touch government, in allowing unchecked petrol and diesel profiteering to run rife.”

The tone contrasts markedly with his response to Insulate Britain protests in October, when Cox tweeted: “It’s way past any support, sympathy for these @InsulateLove Amoebas. Risking lives and pissing us all off will not win a laudable cause.” 

Climate Denial

Despite his media appearances this week, Cox is working increasingly closely with climate science deniers and spreading misinformation. 

Cox has downplayed what he calls “alleged man-made causes” of climate change and questioned its links to extreme weather. He runs a motoring campaign called “Black Cabs Matter” with climate science denial group CAR26, whose director Lois Perry recently called net zero policies “anti-human, communist and insane”.

Cox has admitted to using a “loaded” question in a survey of FairFuel members’ views on the UK’s 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars, and falsely claimed that “Just Stop Oil” climate protests earlier this year caused “1 in 3” petrol stations to run out of fuel – a claim contradicted by the AA, the Petrol Retailers Association, and the government. 

In an interview on BBC 5 Live Breakfast in March, Cox said concern about the climate impact of March’s fuel duty cut was “virtue signalling”, and went on to question the scientific consensus on climate change. 

FairFuel ‘Not Serious’

“The cost of fuel is sky-high right now, and oil and gas companies are making bumper profits,” said Matt Finch, UK director of green campaign group Transport and Environment in response to Cox’s support for the fuel protests.

“If FairFuelUK was serious about helping out drivers, it would be shouting as loudly as possible about increasing the number of electric cars on the UK’s roads. Running costs of EVs are miniscule compared to their polluting predecessors.”

He added that the government should “follow the lead of Germany and New Zealand and dramatically cut public transport fares”.

Policy experts calculate that fuel duty cuts hand far larger savings to wealthier households than poorer motorists. They say more targeted government help during the cost of living crisis, such as increased benefit payments or other hand-outs, would be a better use of public money.

The UN climate body IPCC recently called for “deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions”, warning of “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

Cox did not respond when contacted for comment. In his BBC interview in March, Cox rejected the label of “claim change denier”, calling himself a “climate change realist”.

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