“Let’s use this extraordinary moment and the incredible technology that we’re working on to make this decade the moment of decisive change in the fight against climate change and let’s do it together.” Boris Johnson speaking at the Leaders Climate Summitᶦ
A battle cry from the current Prime Minister, but it seems like a battle he isn’t particularly keen to take on. In this profile, I aim not to look at Boris Johnson’s political background, but instead focus on his stance on Climate Change through the years.
Rolling back the years to Boris Johnson’s 2008 Mayoral Election, Sir Michael Hintze donated a sum of £5,000 to Johnson in 3 payments.ᶦᶦ Sir Michael Hintze was a financial backer of the climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.ᶦᶦᶦ
In addition to receiving support from climate deniers, Mr Johnson has in turn endorsed the opinions of climate change denier Piers Corbyn through his questioning of whether it is “possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world”.ᶦᵛ
Mr Johnson expressed this same climate scepticism on many occasions during his various stints as a columnist. For example, in 2013 Mr Johnson suggested that “human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands – when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.”ᵛ
As late as December 2015, Mr Johnson continued to support the view of Piers Corbyn, so far as to write in the Telegraph that “Whatever is happening to the weather at the moment, he said, it is nothing to do with the conventional doctrine of climate change.”ᵛᶦ
Considering these remarks, it is hard to imagine that such a significant departure from this viewpoint could be envisioned. However as foreign secretary, Johnson told Sky News: “We continue to lobby the U.S. at all levels to continue to take climate change extremely seriously.”ᵛᶦᶦ Some would go as far as to question whether the statement reflected Mr Johnson’s own personal views or if he was simply adhering to collective responsibility. His Climate record in Parliament seems to contradict this statement as he voted “against carbon capture and storage technology investments and in favour of taxation on renewable energy projects.”ᵛᶦᶦᶦ
The newly unveiled ten-point plan for the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ has done little to rally the troops, with many criticising the plan’s lack of funding.ᶦˣ Whether Boris Johnson is now serious about climate change is yet to be seen. His actions away from Westminster such as his trip hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, which has received significant funding from the Koch family and ExxonMobil; or launching Institute for Free Trade in 2017 headed by climate science denier Daniel Hannan suggest a clear conflict of interest.ˣ A conflict of interest that continues to exist in his Prime Ministership, with the campaign receiving £25,000 from First Corporate Shipping, co-owned by Terence Mordaunt, a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum (advocacy arm of climate science denial campaign group).ˣᶦ
Expect dither and delay.
ᶦ Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street & The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, ‘PM statement at the Leaders Summit on Climate: 22 April 2021’ (GOV.UK, 2021) <https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-at-the-leaders-summit-on-climate-22-april-2021>
ᶦᶦ DeSmog, ‘Boris Johnson’ (DeSmog) <https://www.desmog.com/boris-johnson/>
ᵛᶦᶦᶦ N Gronewold, ‘Boris Johnson’s stance on climate change has flip-flopped’ (Science, 2019) <https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/boris-johnson-s-stance-climate-change-has-flip-flopped>
ᶦˣ J Gabbatiss & R McSweeney, ‘Media reaction: Boris Johnson’s 10-point net-zero plan for climate change’ (CarbonBrief, 2020) <https://www.carbonbrief.org/media-reaction-boris-johnsons-10-point-net-zero-plan-for-climate-change>
ˣ DeSmog, ‘Boris Johnson’ (DeSmog) <https://www.desmog.com/boris-johnson/>