A senior Conservative MP has warned Boris Johnson “being ahead of public opinion” by obliging Britain to take action on climate change and warned that voters are more interested in their “big bloody heating bills” than they are in the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
Sir Edward Leigh’s comment came just days after the UK-hosted Cop26 Summit in Glasgow, which had agreed to “phase out” coal-fired power and reduce emissions of other fossil fuels in the hope of keep global warming within 1.5 ° C.
Mr Johnson came under fire in the House of Commons for failing to achieve more immediate greenhouse gas reductions, and Keir Starmer described Cop as “a missed opportunity – a stumbling block when we had to make great strides”.
But Sir Edward suggested instead that the fight against climate change should step back from pressure to keep energy prices down and make UK businesses more competitive.
His comments calling for full use of Britain’s natural gas reserves signaled the continued presence on the back benches of Tory’s reluctance to accept the Prime Minister’s acceptance of the climate emergency.
“Could I ask the Prime Minister and other leaders not to be ahead of public opinion,” said the Gainsborough MP in Lincolnshire.
His constituents “don’t worry so much about the future of the Great Barrier Reef 50 years from now, they worry about their big damn heating bills now,” he said.
“They are heavily dependent on gas, of which we have plenty.
“Manufacturers in northern ’emerging’ cities worry about their competitiveness with China as more and more regulations are imposed on them.”
In response, Mr Johnson insisted that “it would be perfectly realistic to move to renewables very quickly” as the cost of wind and solar energy fell, and said the UK would have a “head start” when it came to being a leader to become in what he called the “Green Industrial Revolution”.