Minister Warns Government Needs "Sense Of Urgency" To Tackle Climate Change
Kwasi Kwarteng has said steps to tackle climate change must be taken with a "sense of urgency" ahead of the publication of a landmark climate report.
The business secretary issued the warning just hours before the publication of the largest ever report into climate change produced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Experts have said the report is likely to provide a "massive wake-up call" to governments across the globe following months of major floods and devastating wildfires across Europe.
Speaking to the BBC Today's programme, Kwarteng said the report would help "drive action" in Whitehall to boost climate change work.
"I think it is something which the government and certainly myself in the department are very focused on," he said.
"We need to drive action and we need a sense of urgency in the measures we are adopting."
Kwarteng admitted there was a "difficulty" for lower income families to keep up with rising costs associated with climate policies, but insisted the government had acted to protect them from being left out of pocket.
"There is always a balance and a difficulty in terms of driving forward action and also making sure everybody can, as it were, go on this journey, and that people on lower incomes can be helped, can be protected in making the transition," he said.
"That is why in the 2019 general election we committed something like £9.2bn in the manifesto over ten years, and the large portion of that was to directly be focussed on people from poorer households on lower incomes because we appreciate some of this transition in the immediate term can cost money."
Last week some Tory MPs raised concerns that expensive climate policies could push away voters, with Craig Mackinlay MP warning the current plan could "completely kill us off politically".
Kwarteng dismissed the criticism and said boosting the economy and making progress on environmental committments were not "incompatible".
"I've spoken to Craig about this," he explained. "Obviously I have a different view and I am trying to convince him that we can actually make this transition work.
"If you look at the figures since 1990 we have managed to reduce carbon emissions by 45% while growing the economy by 80% in that time. The economy has almost doubled in that time, while carbon emissions have almost a half."
He added: "That shows very clearly that you can actually have a net zero agenda, decarbonisation agenda, and also promote economic growth. I don't see the two as being incompatible."
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