THE IDEA of England’s green and pleasant land being scorched by 40 degree heat and its villages being devastated by the resulting blazes seemed like post-apocalyptic visions just a few years ago.
Welcome to 2022.
There are various shades of climate denial, and those who blanket ignore the reality of human activity driving climate change are just one small part.
Even many politicians who recognise the science still seem intent on dragging their feet in actioning decarbonisation.
The growing realisation of the impending climate catastrophe has made the British Conservative Party’s leadership election all the more alarming.
The landmark IPCC report from 2018 warned the world that net zero CO2 emissions should be reached around 2050 to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – and mitigate more severe climate consequences.
The UK has committed in law to reach net zero by 2050, but some Tory leadership contenders have been less than equivocal in their support for the target.
Members of the Tory right have sought to cast the goal into doubt, and while the hard right candidates have failed to make the final ballot, their influence will linger.
It was, after all, the same right wing of the same party that relentlessly pushed for Brexit over several years, finally getting their way in the face of a rising UKIP.
No doubt the two remaining candidates will watch to make their pitch to the Tory hardliners, making themselves out to be the one true blue conservative on the ballot.
Sunak seems the least likely to do so. For what it’s worth, Chris Skidmore, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Environment Group, lent his support to the former Chancellor after receiving assurances over Net Zero.
Worryingly, his opponent has already committed to halting green levies on energy bills – perhaps a foreshadowing of what is to come as the Tory right falls in behind her in the coming weeks.
But for either Sunak or Truss to waver over the government’s commitment to net zero would prove their unsuitability for high office. To gamble with the future of the planet over party point scoring would bode a grim future indeed.
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