Liam Fox branded ‘dinosaur’ for suggesting public may not ‘accept’ climate change causes
Liam Fox has been branded a “dinosaur” in his attitude to climate change after he called on the public to help tackle it regardless of if they believe scientists’ explanations of its causes.
In a statement to the Commons the International Trade Secretary called on MPs to take the issue “seriously” amid mass protests calling for greater action.
However he was accused of putting the crisis “up for debate” by the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, when he told MPs: “Whether or not individuals accept the current scientific consensus on the causes of climate change, it is sensible for everyone to use finite resources in a responsible way.”
The Brighton Pavillion MP told PoliticsHome: “Liam Fox is a dinosaur. Climate change is happening and it is happening now, and no Government Minister should be suggesting that this is up for debate.
“Whilst he and others are trying to deny the truth, the clock is ticking on the urgent steps we need to respond to the climate emergency – steps like a Green New Deal, which has the potential to transform our economy, create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs and improve everyone’s quality of life.”
Dr Fox added that there was an "enormous opportunity" for the UK to take advantage of trillions of dollars of investment into clean energy in the coming decades as an established "global leader".
The Cabinet minister’s intervention comes after teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg told MPs that failure to tackle the problem "irresponsible" and that it “will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind”.
In a speech, the Swede, who rose to prominence by leading a weekly “climate strike” outside her country’s parliament added: "You don't listen to the science because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened."
She was later praised by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who accepted that the UK had “not done nearly enough".
In response to Dr Fox’s comments today, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said: "The science is clear.
"It is shameful that in the week when a sixteen year old school child has educated MPs with such clarity about the climate emergency we face, we have a cabinet minister showing confusion and ignorance on such a staggering scale.
“The Government needs to act with the urgency that the science demands, not provide weasel excuses for climate deniers.
“It is just not acceptable behaviour from a Cabinet minister. If the Tories cannot even accept that climate change is real, how can they bring forward the policies needed to avoid its worst impacts?”
The row came despite a press release from Dr Fox's department claiming he had urged colleagues to “see the economic benefits” of the demands being made by Extinction Rebellion protesters, who have been condemned for holding up London's transport networks.
Members of the group want ministers to declare a climate emergency as their protests enter a second week.
Hundreds of activists were last week arrested following days of blocking roads and public transport across the capital.
Lib Dem Climate Change Spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, said: “The Conservative Government are finally showing their true colours, as apologists for climate change denial.
“While their ranks have many who reject the scientific evidence that humans are contributing to climate change, the Government had least accepted what was happening, but now it seems they’ve changed their mind.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe