Boris Johnson admitted he 'doesn't really understand' climate change, claims sacked COP26 chair
Boris Johnson has been accused of admitting he “doesn’t really understand” climate change by the woman he sacked as president of COP26.
Claire O’Neill, a former minister, said the Prime Minister claimed he “doesn’t really get it” but that others around him do in a stinging attack.
It comes as Mr Johnson officially launched the global environmental conference COP26 in London on Tuesday morning, saying 2020 is a "defining year of climate action for country and planet".
Ms O’Neill, who stood down as an MP last month to take up the role overseeing the event in Glasgow, was removed from her post last Friday.
Number 10 said she will be replaced by a serving minister, but she hit back accusing them of putting out "awful, false and distorted defamatory allegations" in media briefings to support the decision to fire her.
And she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Prime Minister has made some incredibly warm statements about this over the two years.
“He’s also admitted to me that he doesn’t really understand it.”
Pressed on whether he really said this, she added: “He doesn’t really get it, I think is what he said, but others around him do.”
And she added: “My advice to anybody to whom Boris is making promises – whether it is voters, world leaders, ministers, employees or indeed, to family members – is to get it in writing, get a lawyer to look at it and make sure the money is in the bank.”
Ms O’Neill, who was an energy minister under Theresa May, also said the UK was “playing at Oxford United levels when we really need to be Liverpool” in terms of the effort to tackle the climate emergency.
But Mr Johnson, speaking at the Science Museum alongside Sir David Attenborough, said the UK was serious about getting to net zero carbon emissions, and said "we think we've got to do it".
He said: "We were the first to industrialise, so we have a responsibility to lead the way. People saying it's too expensive are wrong."
Earlier Mr Johnson and Sir David met local primary school children, and told the youngsters: "We are trying to get people focusing on what this country is doing to tackle climate change and how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which as I understand it is swaddling the planet like a tea cosy."
He also told them: "We want to get everybody to agree to use new technology such as electric batteries, wind turbines, solar panels, all that kind of thing, so they stop producing so much greenhouse gases."