The Prime Minister will be under pressure to assert Britain’s position on climate change while a poll reveals less than half of MPs think the science of global warming is conclusive.
David Cameron will have to perform a remarkable tightrope walk at the United Nations (UN) climate talks in New York, on the 23rd of September, fearing he will be ridiculed by the international community for not demanding tough action while facing a rebellion from deniers in his own party.
A staggering 71 per cent of Conservative MPs who responded to a new PR Week poll admitted they feel the established science of climate change is a “widespread theory” that has “not yet been conclusively proved” or is just green propaganda.
Cameron told the electorate during the last election campaign to “vote blue, go green” and on becoming Prime Minister, through a coalition with the Lib Dems, promised the “greenest government ever”.
However, during the last five years, Lord Lawson and his Global Warming Policy Foundation, along with leading Tories, from the recently departed environment secretary, Owen Paterson, to Peter Lilley, have sewn dissent in the party ranks and seized political positions from where they can undermine climate initiatives.
John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, called the revelation a “huge embarrassment” for Cameron. “There’s virtually no scientific argument left about whether manmade climate change exists, yet two-thirds of Tory MPs are ready to ignore the science in the name of ideology.”
Amber Rudd MP, the new energy minister, said: “Man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that we face. In 1988 Margaret Thatcher, a scientist herself, put climate change firmly on the political agenda in her speech to the Royal Society when she said: ‘No generation has a freehold on this Earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease. This government intends to meet the terms of that lease in full’.”
However, this position is far from universal among Tories. Of the 57 Conservative MPs who responded, 10 agreed with the statement “man-made climate change is environmentalist propaganda for which there is little or no real evidence”. The Populus poll of 119 out of 650 MPs for PRWeek included 57 Tories and 51 Labour members.
The Conservative leader has confirmed he will attend the New York conference called by Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN. He has been conspicuously quiet on the issue since taking the helm but this silence will be difficult to maintain in the company of the world’s leaders.
Image credit: By Chuck Kennedy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons