Fuel crisis a ‘good lesson’ on the need to act on climate, environment minister says

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Environment Minister Zack Goldsmith has said the petrol crisis is a “good lesson” on the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.

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As drivers queue to fill up and many garages dry up, Lord Goldsmith said the shortage helped to underline that Britain and the world were “opening ourselves up” from our reliance on such fuels. ” needed.

in an interview with Granthshala, Lord Goldsmith dismissed fears that the situation could make it difficult to gain political and public support for a deal to tackle the climate emergency at the impending Cop26 summit.

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He acknowledged that the situation “represents a crisis, and has real-world implications for a lot of businesses and people”, but added: “I don’t think it hurts the pace that we are in with respect to the climate.” are seeing.

“It’s a very good lesson on the need to rid ourselves of our dependence on fossil fuels. You’re not seeing the same problems with people who have electric vehicles.”

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The international environment minister also hit out at skeptics – including those “in the Conservative Party” – for organizing a “fight” against the drive for net-zero carbon emissions ahead of the Glasgow gathering.

For Cop26, Conservative Infighting appears to have put the brakes on CO2-cutting plans to replace gas boilers and insulate homes – which are yet to appear, with only four weeks to go until the summit .

Former ministers Steve Baker and Esther McVey are among a group of rebel Tory lawmakers led by Craig McKinley who oppose the costly measures, while ex-chancellor Nigel Lawson called them “impossible”.

Lord Goldsmith did not criticize any individual, but said: “There are people in society, people in the Conservative Party, people in politics who are skeptical, and who are not supportive of government efforts to secure this transition.

“I think they are in the very minority and I think science is proving them wrong. Extraordinary events are proving them wrong every day.”

When asked whether there was a concerted campaign to undermine Cop 26, or even a conspiracy with right-wing newspapers, he replied: “I’m not sure I know that there were conspiracies. What is the definition.

“But, of course, there are people who meet to discuss how to fight against this commitment, which the government has, and all parties share in some way or the other.”

In an interview, ahead of the Conservative conference in Manchester, which begins today, Lord Goldsmith also said:

* Recognized that following the failure of the Green Homes Grant Scheme, the government had to find ways to avoid people being “out of pocket” in meeting the upfront costs of the transition;

* Discovered that the government does not allow the phrase “climate emergency” to appear in the law – while insisting on it does not affect its determination to fight the crisis;

* Praised Boris Johnson’s “authority and passion” in preparation for Cop26 – arguing that major initiatives “wouldn’t have happened without a prime minister”;

* Called for the same radicalism as seen in the response to COVID – which saw world leaders agree to extraordinary changes in everyday life – saying the climate crisis was in “a different universe” to the pandemic;

* Called on the World Bank and similar institutions to pump billions to cut CO2 by protecting nature, such as the Amazon and Congo Basin – as well as changing the way we live – otherwise “they are part of the problem” .

Mr Johnson has embraced his own dramatic conversion from climate skepticism, prompting cynicism about how committed he is to the issue beyond the headline-grabbing opportunities offered by the upcoming summit.

But Lord Goldsmith said the prime minister had stepped in after his “rows” with (anonymous) cabinet ministers, and that progress had been secured “because of his intervention”.

“He is up to what we are doing, calls regularly for updates, and pushes for greater ambition in certain areas. He speaks to this with authority and genuine passion,” said Lord Goldsmith Said, who has been the Minister of Pacific and Environment since 2019.

In recent weeks, Tory critics of dramatic plans to finally put Britain on the road to zero have become more vocal, warning that the party’s new red-wall voters will not accept the high household costs.

Ms McVey, a former cabinet minister, claimed the measures could “bankrupt the country”, while Mr Baker has become a trustee of the climate-skeptic Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Lord Goldsmith is a close friend of the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, who is credited with persuading Mr Johnson to take the climate crisis seriously.

In Cop26, which begins on November 1, world leaders will attempt to “keep alive” the ambition set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise to 1.5C in an effort to avert climate change.

That requires cutting carbon emissions by nearly half by 2030 – yet a United Nations report last month said the planet was on its way to a 16 percent increase.

Still, Lord Goldsmith is upbeat, pointing to China’s decision to end funding for coal-fired power stations overseas, a growing climate finance fund, and efforts by food producers to curb “extremely destructive land-use”. doing.

Nature-based solutions are each country’s area of ​​responsibility – making the UK’s world-first legally binding goal of halting species decline by 2030.

To underline the importance of the challenge, Lord Goldsmith called “30 football pitches”…

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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