At Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clashed over the government’s record on climate change and the Prime Minister’s own convictions, with Mr Corbyn suggesting that he claimed climate change was a “primitive fear without foundation.”
This needs context. Mr Johnson was talking specifically about the weather in December 2015, and it’s not clear those comments apply to his general views on climate change.
“Look at the recent summit in Paris, which ended in a good agreement to cut CO2, in contrast to the debacle at Copenhagen six years ago. What was the real difference? It was the weather.
“Paris was ridiculously warm for December. Six years ago, Copenhagen saw the biggest snowfalls anyone could remember. “Global warming?” everyone asked.”
Mr Johnson continued saying: “It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation.”
It's a stretch to suggest that Mr Johnson’s comments about the weather in December 2015, can be applied to his views more generally on climate change. (Experts quoted in reports atthe time generally said that while the warm winter across many countries was in line with global warming trends, it wasn’t possible to directly link it to climate change.)
That said, it’s not unfounded to say that Mr Johnson has expressed views which display some scepticism of the impact of humans on the climate.
For example, in a 2013 column on much the same subject, he suggests that theories about solar activity (advocated by Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn, who rejects the scientific consensus on climate change) may be more important. Johnson writes:
“According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb…
“Now I am not for a second saying that I am convinced Piers is right; and to all those scientists and environmentalists who will go wild with indignation on the publication of this article, I say, relax. I certainly support reducing CO2 by retrofitting homes and offices – not least since that reduces fuel bills. I want cleaner vehicles.
“I am speaking only as a layman who observes that there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility — however remote — that Corbyn is right.”
Conspiracies, bad reporting and scams threaten to prolong the pandemic. Will you stand up for an honest 2021?
This year we fact checked hundreds of false and unsubstantiated claims about the coronavirus. As we look to 2021, conspiracy theories about vaccines, and inaccurate reporting about important statistics threaten to prolong the pandemic. We need your support to call out false and harmful claims, and protect people across the UK from bad information.
It’s the Big Give Christmas Challenge, and this week only–you have the chance to double your impact.
Now is the time to make a difference. We have an ambitious fundraising target of £53,000 to ensure millions of people across the UK can access impartial information, on issues that affect their lives.
Anything you donate towards our target will be matched by our matching pot–meaning your gift will have twice the impact, at no extra cost to you.
With bad information showing no signs of stopping, can we count on you this week for a more honest 2021?