David Cameron says he wants action to help climate change - but activists say Tory policies contradict this
Environmental activists have branded David Cameron’s intervention at the Paris climate summit as “shameless” and hypocritical.
The prime minister used his speech at the United Nations conference to state that the UK government is fully committed to tackling climate change.
However, campaign groups say this is directly contradicted by the Tories’ own policies – which include promoting nuclear energy, backing fracking and ending subsidies for the renewables sector.
The Paris summit, which opened on Monday, has been addressed by most of the major world leaders, with US President Barack Obama saying it must prove a “turning point” in the fight to halt climate change.
Much of the discussion in the conference, which will continue till 11 December, is expected to centre on an agreement to limit global warming to 2C (3.6F).
Cameron shamelessly tells the world he is committed to tackling climate change when his own energy policy will deliver the opposite
Speaking on Monday, Cameron said: “Let’s just imagine for a moment what we would have to say to our grandchildren if we failed. We would have to say, it was all too difficult.
“They would reply, what was it that was so difficult when the earth was in peril? When the sea levels were rising in 2015, when crops were failing, when deserts were expanding, what was it that was so difficult?”
Mr Cameron said a deal must have a “binding legal mechanism” and include a “five-year review so we can see how we are doing” against the targets, financial support for the poorest and most vulnerable countries and mechanisms to measure and verify progress.
However, Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, responded: “David Cameron shamelessly tells the world he is committed to tackling climate change and urges everyone else to get on with it when his own energy policy will deliver the opposite, with dreams of nuclear that won’t come true, baseless assumptions about fracking actually working and cuts all round for renewables.
“Since the election, the UK government has made changes that guarantee we will not meet climate or green energy targets. This is a problem for Scotland with our target of 100% renewable electricity in just five years’ time. Our very successful industry will be set back years because of the Tories’ ideological objection to windfarms and solar.
“Communities and individuals who wanted to do their bit to tackle climate change and benefit from the renewable energy revolution have been seriously undermined by the Treasury’s drastic cuts to support mechanisms.
"In Scotland we’ll stop burning coal to make electricity next March and the priorities will be to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy, on the way to a fossil-free Scotland.
“Sadly the UK’s backwards policies will slow down our ability to play to Scotland’s energy strengths and frustrate communities who are planning to make their own energy."
Gail Wilson of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, which has an observer in Paris, said: "The prime minister has made the right noises, but if he is being honest about countries sticking to their promises, he needs to change his own policies at home.
"Mr Cameron says we should be taking action today. We agree. His first step should be to reverse his government's cuts in renewable energy investment, so that we can meet our climate change targets and take advantage of the boost that a green economy will bring to jobs and incomes, in Scotland and across the whole of the UK."