When Climate Change Sceptics Take Charge

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Greenwashing takes many forms, typically involving corporations signing up to lofty environmental targets and creating lots of green marketing collateral while continuing with business-as-usual behind the scenes.  Howvere, it is clear that governments can also be guilty of similar crimes.  The disconnection between current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the overall agreed global target of maximum 2 degree warming is symptomatic of this problem.  This persistent Governmental greenwashing can be highly exacerbated by the vagaries of party politics.

    The United Kingdom was one of the first nations to put net-zero targets into law back in 2019.  Unfortunately, since then not only has the government been successfully sued for effectively breaching its own Climate Change Act, but recent internal turmoil in the ruling Conservative party has resulted in the appointment as Energy Secretary of outspoken climate change sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg.  The new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is co-founder of a hedge fund that invests in oil and coal extraction and has been quoted expressing misgivings about “climate alarmism” and suggesting that the world should simply adapt to climate change rather that try to mitigate it.  Speaking in a closed shop presentation to departmental staff last week, Rees-Mogg said that it is imperative that the UK “must get every cubic inch of gas out of the North Sea.”  This clearly flies in the face of the current consensus that any hope of meeting climate targets precludes any new fossil fuel extraction projects.

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    His appointment is reminiscent of the climate change denier Scott Pruitt’s appointment as head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by then newly elected President Donald Trump.  Putting individuals in charge that are manifestly and explicitly opposed to the very purpose of their new organisation, while maintaining lip service to globally agreed climate goals would appear to take state-sponsored greenwashing into the realms of sabotage.  Turning a global climate emergency into some kind of “political football” is becoming more common during the current global trend towards populist parties.  Speaking to a private audience of world leaders in New York last month, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the “effort to keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is on life support.”

    Thankfully, the current UK government’s days appear to be numbered.  In the time it took to write this column, yet another Prime Minister has resigned, in a trend that the UK electorate will surely find impossible to accept any longer.  Instead of addressing the urgent need for mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis, which should have been the top priority of any major G7 nation, precious time, energy and resources have been wasted on internal party-political battles.  The British public, major non-governmental organisations and the current governing party’s own manifesto are unanimous on this matter.  The likes of Rees-Mogg or Pruitt must be kept far away from positions of authority on climate change matters.  There will always be dissenting views, but climate science denial needs to reside on the very margins of politics where it belongs.

    Image courtesy of Kristina Kasputienė from Pixabay
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