Our Prime Minister is confusing pragmatism with procrastination. I’m referring, of course, to the recent announcements watering down policies aimed at reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. I was disappointed to learn that you have personally written to the PM supporting these misguided decisions.
The government’s own Climate Change Committee had already concluded existing policies were insufficient to achieve net zero by 2050. Diluting them can only make achieving this even less likely. The PM’s statement that he continues to support the net-zero target is dishonest.
It is also not possible to claim to support the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change whilst at the same time scaling back emission reduction policies and promoting oil and gas exploration. These actions are not compatible with an aim of keeping temperature rises to well below 2⁰C. It is very un-British for us to sign up to an international treaty and then ignore the obligations we have undertaken. These policies also profoundly conflict with Conservative values which, at their best, promote the preservation for the future of all that is worthwhile in the present (the clue’s in the name).
As you know, I share your concerns that climate-related policies must not place unfair burdens on the least-well off but this is not the way forward. We need to speed action up, rather than delay it, and it is the least-well off who will suffer the consequences most if this is not done.
Professor of Geophysics, Royal Holloway University of London
and resident of Marlborough