Boris Johnson’s hit a new low of peak hypocrisy about the Amazon fires

Boris Johnson speech 2018 Conservative conference
Fréa Lockley

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:

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:

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:

Others, meanwhile, pointed out that Johnson took significant donations from known climate deniers during the Conservative leadership contest:

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.

Environmental champion?

Johnson’s voting record shows that he’s consistently voted against legislation to tackle the current climate breakdown.

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:


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

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