Liz Truss Book Calls for Climate Laws to be Abolished and Boasts of Effort to Cancel UK COP Summit

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Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Liz Truss and former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Asqar Mamin at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Credit: Karwai Tang/UK Government (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The former prime minister attacks flagship climate deals and makes false claims about electric vehicles, Russia’s influence on energy policies, and net zero.

The new book by former Prime Minister Liz Truss urges the UK, U.S. and EU to drop their landmark climate change laws, spreads falsehoods about green policies, and fondly recalls an attempt to cancel a major climate conference.

Truss, who is the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, resigned as prime minister in October 2022 after just 49 days in office.

Since leaving 10 Downing Street, Truss has attempted to expose the “deep state” forces that allegedly brought down her premiership, while advocating for “free market” ideas within the Conservative Party, helping to launch the Popular Conservatives group.

In her book, Ten Years to Save the West, which she is promoting widely this week, Truss writes that “the zealous drive to net zero”, the UK’s legally binding 2050 climate target, amounts to “unilateral economic disarmament” and is “a drag on economic growth”. She also claims that, while serving in the Treasury, she attempted to cancel the 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Truss writes: “We should abolish the Climate Change Act and instead adopt a new Climate Freedom Act that enables rather than dictates technology”. She adds that “the U.S. should reverse the Inflation Reduction Act, and the EU should abandon its equivalent measures”.

The Climate Change Act legalised the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. The Inflation Reduction Act is a $369 billion package of grants and subsidies by the U.S. government to spur green technology investment. 

Scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have said that without “immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors” limiting global heating to 1.5C is beyond reach.

Restricting global temperatures to this threshold – the target agreed by the UK as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement – would prevent the worst and most irreversible effects of climate change, including floods, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires.

In the book, Truss also attacks climate advocates, writing that “the environmental movement is fundamentally driven by the radical left”, adding: “This ‘watermelon’ tendency is green on the outside, red on the inside – a modern rebranding of socialism. It features the same instincts of collectivism and authoritarianism.”

Truss writes that “we should cancel” the United Nations annual COP climate summit, and falsely claims that electric vehicles are worse for the environment than those powered by fossil fuels.

“In recent years, more radical forms of climate misinformation and disinformation have become mainstreamed”, said Jennie King, director of climate research and policy at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue think tank. “Such content continues to grow in virality and engagement online, but its impacts are vastly increased when platformed in the media or by politicians.”

King said “the normalisation of wild and outlandish claims”, with climate action “being framed through a conspiratorial, tribalist and anti-scientific lens”, can lead to “real-world harm”. 

“When such ideas are conveyed from the very corridors of power, it sets a dangerous precedent”, she added. 

The IPCC warned in 2022 that efforts to tackle climate change were being delayed by “rhetoric and misinformation that undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency”.

Truss Claims ‘Couldn’t be Further from the Truth’

Truss’s book is published by Biteback Publishing, a company owned by former Conservative deputy chair and major party donor Michael Ashcroft. 

The former prime minister dedicates a chapter to green policies, titled ‘A Hostile Environment’, apparently a play on the term used by the Conservative government about its anti-immigration policies

Truss writes that current environmental policies should be scrapped in favour of a “free market” approach. On energy, she calls for more fossil fuel extraction, advocating a mix of “oil and gas as well as nuclear and renewables”, adding: “The use of North Sea oil and gas is crucial, so there needs to be investment in that too. There also should be fracking in the UK.”

Fracking for shale gas is a controversial practice that risks causing air, water, and noise pollution.

She fails to mention that oil and gas firms receive major subsidies and tax breaks from the government, which would logically be removed in a “free market” energy system. The UK government has given £20 billion more in support to fossil fuel producers than renewables companies since 2015.

Truss’s book also attacks the multilateral UN COP process, which has seen agreements on transitioning away from fossil fuels, and financial support for poorer countries suffering the worst effects of climate change. 

Truss writes that “we should cancel the COP gravy train”. She claims that, in 2018, when she was chief secretary to the Treasury, she made “11th-hour attempts to ditch COP26”, the UN climate summit hosted by the UK in 2021, arguing that it was not a spending priority. 

At COP26, nearly 200 countries agreed to ramp up efforts to cut emissions, also calling on wealthy countries to double their funding to poorer nations that have contributed the least to climate change. More than 40 countries also pledged to quit coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel and the world’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The book also spreads false claims about climate policies. Truss writes that “in the UK and Europe, Russia has funded anti-fracking campaigns”, a claim which is not supported by any evidence.

Truss claims that policies like “the switch from petrol to diesel in cars or the use of electric vehicles, have either harmed the environment in other ways or empowered our polluting adversaries elsewhere in the world”. 

Colin Walker, head of transport at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank, told DeSmog: “The notion that the switch to electric vehicles will have little discernible environmental impact, and make us dependent on imported gas and coal, couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The total lifetime CO2 emissions of an electric vehicle, from being built to being driven, are three times lower than a petrol vehicle – a figure that will only get higher as our grid becomes cleaner. And while older technologies like petrol cars and gas boilers rely on fossil fuels imported from abroad, EVs and heat pumps can be powered by electricity generated by British wind and solar farms.”

Truss also writes of “ludicrous claims that pursuing a net zero agenda … will boost the economy and drive growth”. 

Walker added: “The UK’s net zero economy is now worth £74 billion, and grew by nine percent in 2023.  The wider economy grew just 0.1 percent. Talking down the economic opportunities net zero has to offer the UK is at odds with a growth agenda when the U.S., EU and China are all competing for clean industries.” 

Truss’s Climate Denial Ties

Truss has a long history of opposing climate policies. In the 2022 Conservative Party leadership contest, she attacked solar farms on agricultural land and, during her brief time in 10 Downing Street, she overturned the UK’s ban on fracking. (A policy reversed by her successor, Rishi Sunak.)

As DeSmog reported at the time, Truss’s leadership campaign received £30,000 from a pro-fracking lobby group, £10,000 from a climate denial activist, and £100,000 from the wife of a former BP oil executive. Truss received a further £5,000 from Lord Vinson, a Tory peer who has provided funding to the UK’s leading climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Since leaving office, Truss has received £250,000 in speaking fees, including £7,600 last April from the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing U.S. think tank that has long promoted climate science denial. Heritage President Kevin Roberts provides a long and glowing blurb for Truss’s book. 

Earlier this year, Truss helped to launch the Popular Conservatives (PopCon), a new initiative run by Truss-ally Mark Littlewood, the former director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank which received funding from oil major BP for at least 50 years. 

At the PopCon launch, Truss attacked “net zero zealotry”, claiming voters “don’t like the net zero policies which are making energy more expensive”

.Additional reporting by Sam Bright

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingLiz Truss Book Calls for Climate Laws to be Abolished and Boasts of Effort to Cancel UK COP Summit

Lord Deben: ‘Why I’m backing court action against the government’s weak climate strategy’

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Urgency is a word in constant use to emphasise the immediacy and scale at which our changing climate demands action. After more than ten years at the helm of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), I recognise the opportunities that this urgent action offers — economic, social, and environmental — as well as the disastrous consequences of failing to respond quickly enough.

Yet, the meaning of  ‘urgency’ seems lost on those who need to grasp it most – our political leaders. They alone have the power to set in motion the rapid transformation that is necessary to deliver on our climate goals. That was recognised by the UK when they hosted the UN climate talks in Glasgow in 2021. We led the world in setting the tough targets we need to avert disaster and to turn this immense problem into a real opportunity to build a better world. Alok Sharma and his team rose to the occasion and, with all its deficiencies, my view is that COP26 set us on the path to Net Zero in 2050.

Yet, necessary as they are, targets are only the beginning of the process and the CCC has consistently emphasised the necessity of a detailed programme if those targets are to be achieved. It was the lack of that which led the High Court to insist that this Government produce a clear delivery programme by the end of March 2023. In response, the Government published a many-paged document which, it claimed, met the Court’s requirement.  In fact, upon detailed expert analysis, it became clear that this document gave even less assurance of meeting our legally binding targets than had been previously thought. It was because of this that I took the decision to support a legal challenge in the High Court by Friends of the Earth. Their challenge over the inadequacy of the government’s climate strategy was heard last month alongside two separate, but related, cases brought by Good Law Project and ClientEarth.

I was still in post at the CCC at the time the Government produced its updated climate strategy. In the many years I led the organisation, the CCC would get advanced information about any plans published under the 2008 Climate Change Act. Yet ahead of the publication of the UK’s new climate strategy in March 2023, this failed to happen. The departure from established ways of working has led me to believe the Government did not want its official advisers to examine the draft plan before it was published.

Continue ReadingLord Deben: ‘Why I’m backing court action against the government’s weak climate strategy’

COP26 News review day 13

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COP26 overran into it’s thirteenth day today and produced the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Cop26 ends in climate agreement despite India watering down coal resolution

The negotiations carried on late into Saturday evening, as governments squabbled over provisions on phasing out coal, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and providing money to the poor world.

The “Glasgow climate pact” was adopted despite a last-minute intervention by India to water down language on “phasing out” coal to merely “phasing down”.

The pledges on emissions cuts made at the two-week long Cop26 summit in Glasgow fell well short of those required to limit temperatures to 1.5C, according to scientific advice. Instead, all countries have agreed to return to the negotiating table next year, at a conference in Egypt, and re-examine their national plans, with a view to increasing their ambition on cuts.

Continue ReadingCOP26 News review day 13

COP26 News review day 12

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The final day of the COP26 summit.

Honest Government Ad | Net Zero by 2050 (feat. Greta Thunberg)

Hundreds of global civil society representatives walk out of Cop26 in protest

Carrying blood-red ribbons to represent the crucial red lines already crossed by Cop26 negotiations, hundreds of representatives of global civil society walked out of the convention centre in Glasgow on the final morning of the summit in protest.

The audience at the People’s Plenary in the conference blue zone heard speakers condemn the legitimacy and ambition of the 12-day summit before walking out to join protesters gathered on the streets beyond the security fencing.

“Cop26 is a performance,” the Indigenous activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney of the Tla A’min Nation told the meeting before the walkout. “It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism. I didn’t come here to fix the agenda – I came here to disrupt it.”

George Minbiot: Make extreme wealth extinct: it’s the only way to avoid climate breakdown

A recent analysis of the lifestyles of 20 billionaires found that each produced an average of over 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide: 3,500 times their fair share in a world committed to no more than 1.5C of heating. The major causes are their jets and yachts. A superyacht alone, kept on permanent standby, as some billionaires’ boats are, generates around 7,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

I’ve come to believe that the most important of all environmental measures are wealth taxes. Preventing systemic environmental collapse means driving extreme wealth to extinction. It is not humanity as a whole that the planet cannot afford. It’s the ultra-rich.

Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, IMF finds (An older article for context).

The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.

Extra video from thejuicemedia

Continue ReadingCOP26 News review day 12

COP26 News review day 10

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COP26: China and US agree to boost climate co-operation

China and the US have agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade, in a surprise announcement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The two countries released a rare joint declaration promising action.

It says both sides will “recall their firm commitment to work together” to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement.

What do countries on the frontline of the climate crisis think of COP26?

How has the news of progress at COP26 – or lack of it – and the prospect of a 2.4 degree increase in temperature, been going down in countries of the Global South, already struggling with the effects of climate change?

Boris abruptly ends Cop26 press conference after just 22 minutes: ‘Gotta go’

Continue ReadingCOP26 News review day 10