As devastating fires continue to rage across the Amazon rainforest, Boris Johnson wants us to think he cares about this “heartbreaking” and “international crisis”. But he’s actually hit peak hypocrisy. Because both he and the Conservatives play roles in this environmental disaster.
On 23 August, Johnson quite rightly pointed out the significance of these fires:
The fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest are not only heartbreaking, they are an international crisis. We stand ready to provide whatever help we can to bring them under control and help protect one of Earth’s greatest wonders.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 23, 2019
But he completely ignored his own party’s responsibility in this “crisis”.
As The Canary reported, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has opened the Amazon up to more ‘development and economic opportunities’. This, it’s widely thought, plays a significant role in the current fires. As openDemocracy revealed Bolsonaro’s right-wing government plans to “strategically occupy the Amazon region” and prevent key rainforest conservation projects. This ‘occupation’ has shattered indigenous people’s land claims and also boosted the Brazilian beef industry. A growing player in the UK market, it also allegedly carries out illegal deforestation.
As a Brazil-based writer pointed out, Johnson’s party has supported Bolsonaro for some time:
Your party has been meeting Jair Bolsonaro since 2014. The Conservative Government supported his sham election and knew exactly what the impact of it would be. Spare us. https://t.co/X84SfbfwZL
— Daniel (@Daniel_IV_) August 24, 2019
But his hypocrisy doesn’t stop there.
Liar, liar the world’s on fire
Johnson’s faux sympathy didn’t convince many people. Some felt he was simply trying to boost his image:
You’re lying. Trying to appear cuddly and green to pick up votes and soften your image. It won’t work. Everyone knows your government doesn’t give a damn. You are part of the problem and never will be part of the solution.
— Matt Carr (@MattCarr55) August 24, 2019
Others, meanwhile, pointed out that Johnson took significant donations from known climate deniers during the Conservative leadership contest:
Why did you accept money from climate change deniers during the “leadership” contest, then?https://t.co/xko0jrfP4q
— Veronica 🔶 #FBPE #Facciamorete #TheResistance (@VeroVero777) August 23, 2019
As openDemocracy reported, Jeremy Hunt and Johnson both received £25,000 donations from First Corporate Shipping. This company’s co-owned by Terence Mordaunt and Sir David Ord. And Mordaunt’s also:
a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the advocacy arm of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation. The group has been accused of “giving a platform to fringe climate science deniers” and getting “credibility within the political world through its high-profile Westminster connections.”
And as DeSmog also noted, in 2018, Johnson went:
on an all-expenses-paid trip to the US to speak at a black tie dinner organised by the American Enterprise Institute, a Koch-funded free-market thinktank that has lobbied hard against climate action in the US.
Former government chief scientist Prof David King also criticised Johnson’s track record as foreign secretary. As King told the Guardian, Johnson oversaw:
“devastating” cuts in efforts to tackle the climate crisis when he was foreign secretary and then wanted to hush them up.
According to King, “Johnson’s term in office coincided with a 60% cut in his team of climate attaches across the world from 165 to just 65”.
In 2015, Johnson wrote a Telegraph column headlined: “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming”. He went on to praise Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers who’s a notorious climate science denier, writing:
In the view of Piers and his colleagues at WeatherAction, it is all about sun spots…
Whatever is happening to the weather at the moment, he said, it is nothing to do with the conventional doctrine of climate change.
And now Johnson wants us to think he cares about the current crisis. It’s vital to remember just how significant these Amazon fires truly are:
Scientists warn that losing another fifth of Brazil’s Amazon will trigger the feedback loop known as dieback, in which the forest begins to dry out and burn in a cascading system collapse, beyond the reach of any subsequent human intervention or regret. https://t.co/oQquBYsM3Z
— The Intercept (@theintercept) August 21, 2019
So Johnson’s faux sympathy really is a step too far. His track record tells a different story, and as we know only too well, we really can’t believe a single word he says.
Featured image via YouTube – ITV News
Since you're here ...
We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.