Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, two contenders to become PM without troubling the electorate first, were both on Sunday Morning this Sunday morning. As part of a quick-fire round of questions, Sophie Raworth asked both if they were in favour of Net Zero by 2050.
Both were, monosyllabically. Unconditionally. Unequivocally.
But there seemed to be a haunted look in their eyes as they affirmed their faith. To me, dunking a croissant into my filter coffee, it said “If I repudiate Net Zero, I’m finished.”
Maybe, I thought. But if you are finished by repudiating Net Zero, the rest of us are damned by you endorsing it. At least, we are if you are the one who elbows all your fellow contenders out of the way and collapses gasping next to the No. 10 foot-scraper, yelling triumphantly as the first one to touch the hallowed black paint on the front door of the First Lord of the Treasury.
And yet both The Saj and The Jeremy were instantly willing to also sign on to the inhumane idea of exporting our migrants to an African country that (I judge) fewer than 10% of the UK’s folk could point to on an unlabelled map. Especially if there were no lines delineating the countries.
It occurred to me that as the list of candidates for PM lengthened, I had simply assumed that all were similarly monosyllabic in their support for apparent over real virtue, i.e. that all would be happy to condemn the UK to sliding out of the first world into the decaying swamps of the post-civilised world to deflect the risk that somebody, anybody, some guy, a nobody, out there in the darkest depths of the internet would jab a finger at them Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers style, and yell out “Denier! He’s a climate denier!”
To test my theory I decided to do a brief trawl through the news to see what the contenders have said about the existential threat of the climate crisis, or whether they perhaps snorted that wind turbines “couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.” (No, that was not the sun rising you saw on the horizon when Boris tap-danced into 10 Downing Street.)
The following list of candidates comes from the BBC. The text beside each name comes from a cursory internet search (sources below the table).
|Contender||How Not Zero Are They?|
|Kemi Badenoch||“Another worry is that Kemi Badenoch, who is also running for leader on an “anti-woke” platform, also this weekend came out against net zero by 2050”|
|Suella Braverman||“The attorney general, Suella Braverman, this weekend vowed to suspend net zero measures, saying: “In order to deal with the energy crisis we need to suspend the all-consuming desire to achieve net zero by 2050. If we keep it up, especially before businesses and families can adjust, our economy will end up with net zero growth.””|
“However, she has never tweeted about climate change or nature…”
|Jeremy Hunt||“Mr Hunt said: “Now more than ever, in light of the global gas crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s vital we decarbonise the UK’s economy by 2050.”|
|Sajid Javid||“Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: As a health community, we cannot simply sit on the sidelines – we must respond to climate change through urgent action, with global collaboration at its core. I am delighted that all 4 UK health services are pledging to become net zero and it is brilliant news that dozens of countries have joined the UK in committing to reduce carbon emissions from their health systems – significantly cutting greenhouse gas output around the world.”|
|Penny Mordaunt||“However, climate change is a global issue which requires global action. We must act now, so worldwide we are better prepared to deal with future extreme weather events. If we don’t the consequences could be devastating.”|
|Priti Patel||“The recent anti-fracking protests in Balcombe have shown how parts of the green lobby and its eco-extremist followers have lost all interest in reason. Their dogmatic obsession with opposing efforts to take advantage of new fuel sources, threatening behaviour and acts of civil disobedience not only costs taxpayers money in policing costs and property damages, but it also exposes their naivety and the green lobby’s inability to make credible arguments.|
“If the green lobby genuinely believed in tackling climate change they would be more open minded to the benefits of extracting shale gas in the UK.”
|Grant Shapps||“Shapps – like so many of his predecessors – repeats the fairytale promise that we will all be enjoying walking and cycling for almost half of all trips in our cities and towns by 2030. But there was not a single penny in his plan to support this. The current budget of £0.4bn per annum is a tiny fraction of the £8bn the UN says we should be spending annually on walking and cycling by 2025: 20 per cent of the total transport budget.”|
|Rishi Sunak||“Worryingly for people concerned about the environment, Mr Sunak has made it clear he won’t borrow to tackle the climate crisis because he needs to mend the government’s finances.”|
|Liz Truss||“As environment secretary from 2014 to 2016, Truss criticised solar power on agricultural land as harming food security, a claim that wasn’t backed up with evidence. In her current role as foreign secretary, she was recently reported to have ordered foreign office officials to focus international aid on girls and women rather than climate change.”|
|Tom Tugendhat||““Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face and I fully appreciate the urgency in our need to combat it,” wrote the former journalist and British army officer in January 2020.”|
|Nadhim Zahawi||“Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘We are delivering a better, safer, greener world for future generations and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change. The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit of this country makes me confident that we will win this fight. ‘”|
It’s hard to be sure but it seems to me that not many have their heart in the green stuff. It’s more a box that has to be ticked. For some it was hard to find a definitive statement about/by them: for Priti Patel, for instance, all I could find were stories about her “tough” approach to XR protests.
And by the way, the Indy’s comment piece on Shapps (not my favourite person, as you may know) has to be read to be believed.
Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman – The Guardian
Jeremy Hunt – The Independent
Sajid Javid – Health Dept
Suella Braverman (2nd excerpt), Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat – New Scientist
Penny Mordaunt – Some Random Gov’t Dept
Priti Patel – Desmog
Grant Shapps – The Independent
Rishi Sunak – BBC
Nadhim Zahawi – EYE
It bears noting that Defra Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith has publicly stated that he believes most of the likely contenders for Party leader are “people who, on the whole, couldn’t give a sh** about climate and nature”.
Lord Goldsmith added: “I have numerous texts from very well-known environmentalists who are shrieking publicly about Boris but who accept privately that his departure is likely very bad news for nature and climate”. These statements came after an earlier tweet from Goldsmith, posted ahead of Johnson’s resignation, in which he stated that the resignation would “most likely” mean the end of the UK’s “leadership on climate and nature”.EDIE