On 8 October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a vitally important report. Without “urgent” action now, we face “catastrophic climate change” by 2030. In response, EU environment ministers held an international summit on climate change on 9 October. But the UK’s environment secretary, Michael Gove, skipped the meeting. No UK cabinet ministers took his place.
Green MP Caroline Lucas condemned Gove for his actions:
With just 12 years left to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, we need an environment secretary dedicated to working across borders to create a fairer, healthier, safer society – not a self-promoting architect of an environmentally destructive Brexit.https://t.co/yDAPeoj9zU
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) October 10, 2018
As the Independent reported, Gove’s department:
confirmed the environment secretary was not able to attend the meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg, which is specifically about fighting climate change by cutting CO2 emissions, as well as other environmental matters…
The environment minister has also “failed to attend any of the EU council meetings since he came to office”. Lucas told the Independent that the IPCC report:
exposed the Government’s approach to tackling climate change as completely inadequate. Michael Gove’s failure to engage with the EU Environment Council tells us everything we need to know about whether they plan to take the urgent action necessary to avoid disaster.
A planet in crisis
What makes Gove’s actions so indefensible is the urgency of the IPCC’s findings. The UK has a vital role to play, along with every country on the planet. Although he sent Therese Coffey, a junior minister, in his place, his absence sends out a clear message. Because it signals the government’s refusal to take clear steps towards environmental change.
Many people took to Twitter to share their outrage at his actions:
In a week where a landmark UN report warned urgent action was needed to avoid climate change disaster – Michael Gove and the rest of the UK Cabinet have decided to skip a key international summit on climate change. Failing to engage sinks UK even lower #ShameOnYouTories #r4today pic.twitter.com/mlqWT8J8yr
— StrongerStabler (@StrongerStabler) October 10, 2018
Simply put, it is unacceptable for any politician to ignore or skip climate change meetings. Michael Gove once again demonstrates his incapacity to recognise risk, a key tenet of his party. In future we must vote for a party that will act urgently and aggressively
— Dr Benjamin Janaway (@drjanaway) October 10, 2018
— Scientists for EU (@Scientists4EU) October 10, 2018
Gove’s track record on the environment is questionable. In 2013, as education secretary, he refused to take firm action against plans to remove climate change from the Geography syllabus. And in 2014, he also barred Angela Rudd, then energy and climate secretary, from going to the UN climate summit in Peru.
But it gets worse. As DeSmogUK reported:
Gove also sits on the fringe of the Brexit climate denier network – he is friends with Breitbart’s climate science denialist reporter James Delingpole and Lord Lawson, founder of the climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Lawson endorsed Gove for the Tory leadership in 2016.
And this year he also seemed to welcome climate change. Because apparently, it helps to make good UK wine:
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) August 3, 2018
So now he’s upped the ante even further and refused to take part in some of the most vital climate change discussions in our lifetime. Tick tock, Gove – what the hell are you doing?
The country, and indeed the world, deserve better than you.
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Featured image via Policy Exchange/Flickr