THE Scottish Greens have called on Boris Johnson to remove "dangerous Trumpian extremism" from his party if he is to have any credibility with world leaders ahead of COP26.

It comes as a climate change denial group recently changed its name and main focus - while counting a long-serving Tory MP amongst its biggest backers. There are indications that more are likely to join.

The new Net Zero Watch (NZW) website was unveiled yesterday (October 11) with the stated aim of talking about the "serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies”. 

The group is a rebranding of the campaigning arm of the climate change sceptical lobby group Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) with the Global Warming Policy Forum disappearing from the internet on Monday with the URL redirecting to the NZW website.

NZW has chosen to align itself with public anxiety over the costs of net-zero emissions goals to the taxpayer at a time when the UK is experiencing fuel shortages.

One of the group's main proponents is former Brexit minister and Conservative MP Steve Baker (below) who has been taking aim at UK Government experts for their plans to move towards renewables as the main source of energy.

The National:

In an NZW blog post on Monday, Baker belittled the work going into moving the UK towards net-zero saying the plans to decarbonise the economy are based on a "collective crossing of the fingers".

Baker also stoked fears of future energy crises saying the UK does not yet have a way to store wind energy for times when the wind isn't blowing and that if this happens then nations across the EU are going to "get in a bidding war for the few megawatts of power that are left".

Baker closes his blog post by saying: "Is catastrophe coming? I fear so, unless ministers get a grip and liberate the private sector to go for gas, right now."

NZW's intention is to question net-zero policy at every turn and Baker's prominent association with it has been criticised by the Scottish Greens who said people should be "very concerned" about Tories spreading conspiracy theories about climate change less than a month before world leaders meet in Glasgow for COP26.

READ MORE: Who is attending COP26 in Glasgow this November?

Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman (below) said: “With extreme weather events increasingly evident on news reports, and with the United Nations secretary-general calling our situation ‘code red for humanity’, climate science denial is looking more ridiculous than ever.

"We should be very concerned indeed that senior Conservative MPs are peddling these conspiracy theories at a time when we cannot afford to ignore the evidence.

“If his commitment to the COP26 climate summit is to have any credibility, Boris Johnson must act to remove this dangerous Trumpian extremism from his party immediately.”

The National:

The group also counts former chancellor and Tory peer Nigel Lawson amongst its board members along with GWPF director Benny Peiser who has said that "dozens" of MPs have inquired about the NZW campaign.

Peiser said that GWPF had been "in the wilderness for a long, long time" but with this pivot, it could "change quite swiftly".

The author of Denied - the Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism, Richard Black, told Politico that GWPF's old anti-science gimmick had become "untenable" but noting that voters are still divided on whether they would be willing to take a financial hit to help in the net-zero transition, he said that climate advocates should take NZW "seriously".

He said: "[The group's] tactics and rhetoric are clearly designed to have populist appeal, and already a couple of MPs have been prepared to suspend their credibility and lend support."

He also said that that "questioning the cost of the net-zero transition is just about all [GWPF] have left," adding: "But of course framing the issue this way is very obviously one-eyed, given that the benefits of a zero-carbon switch may well exceed the costs — and that the costs of not reaching net-zero are huge."

READ MORE: Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, WHO warns

The launch of the new campaign comes as the UK Prime Minister prepares to meet world leaders at the COP26 climate summit to discuss how the world can stem the issues of earth warming due to human influences such as fossil fuel emissions.

While Chancellor Rishi Sunak (below) is in the process of drawing up plans for the decarbonisation of the UK economy - with a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with the UK committed to decarbonising the economy  - he did not mention the climate once in his Conservative conference speech.

The Scottish Government has more ambitious targets of reducing emissions of all greenhouse gases by 75% by 2030 then by 95% by 2040 with the aim of reaching net-zero by 2045.

The National:

Some UK Government ministers are reportedly concerned that switching to energy-efficient heating systems and electric vehicles will hurt the party's standing with lower-income voters, many of whom helped them win the 2019 General Election.

The Tory MP for Thanet, Craig Mackinlay, set up a "net zero scrutiny group" earlier this year to question the Government's policies of moving towards a low-carbon economy.

The rebrand has been criticised as a "ruse" by climate change campaigners who say that it is attempting to "fool the media" about forgetting how "relentlessly wrong they have been in the past.

A Greenpeace UK spokesperson said: “The people who spent the last twenty years campaigning to preserve our addiction to fossil fuels are transforming themselves into a radical new campaign to prolong our use of gas and petrol. 

“Presumably in the hope that this sophisticated rebranding will fool the media into forgetting their history of being relentlessly wrong about everything climate-related. 

“It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s anyone out there with a memory short enough to fall for this ruse.”

READ MORE: UK Government's COP26 agenda 'woefully inadequate', activists say

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, described the rebrand as the "latest tactic" for GWPF to spread "lukewarm propaganda".

He said: “It will continue to spread false claims about the implications of reaching net-zero emissions while also denying the risks of climate change. Same old climate change deniers, same old climate change denial.” 

“I hope nobody will be fooled and that journalists in particular quiz them about their secret sources of funding in this country and abroad.”