COP26 top chef Alok Sharma denies British split over climate

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“Sometimes people don’t see the conservatives as leading this,” says Alok Sharma.

Manchester:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pointman ahead of the COP26 climate summit on Tuesday insisted his own Conservative party was on board with the ambition to save the planet.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said that despite grumblings on the party’s right wing at the annual conference, MPs all saw the potential for a green economic revolution.

“Sometimes people don’t see the Conservatives as leading this,” the former Secretary of State said on the sidelines of the conference in Manchester, England’s northwest.

“Cabinet colleagues actually understand why it’s vital to get this right,” he said, ahead of the two-week COP26 summit in Scotland starting October 31.

“And we see the benefits of that in terms of growth, in terms of reducing emissions.”

“This is a real, real opportunity to create jobs, create growth, have a healthier country and a healthier planet.”

In his speech closing the Conservative meeting on Wednesday, Johnson is also expected to address Britain’s action on climate change and the need for global coordination.

Johnson visited exhibitors’ booths at the conference on Tuesday, rode an e-bike, got into an electric tractor and played with a puzzle to build a carbon-free energy house.

But at the meeting in Manchester as a whole, the topic of climate change has been put on the back burner this week.

Sharma didn’t get one of the headline-talking slots.

And the issue was absent from Finance Minister Rishi Sunak’s keynote address on Monday, as he outlined a strategy to put UK finances in order and focus on technology-led growth after the Covid crisis.

‘Irresponsible scabs’

The omission was a “damaging sign” ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, according to Rebecca Newsom, head of policy for Greenpeace UK.

“Coughing up more money now for green infrastructure would save huge costs later and create millions of new jobs in the UK,” she said.

“At a time when we need spending commitments for a carbon-free future, it sounds like Rishi is preparing to take a big step back.”

Secretary of State Liz Truss also didn’t use the C-word — climate — in her own speech on Sunday, except for a cursory pledge to support “greener” growth and “clean infrastructure” in developing countries.

By contrast, the B word – Brexit – has been a recurring theme for Johnson’s party deputies, who are determined that the current problems associated with the EU separation will disappear.

Brexit Secretary David Frost admonished the “anti-transport, anti-car” lobbies “anti-growth ideologies” and “ongoing misery”, arguing that human ingenuity and technological innovation will save the day.

Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday used her own speech to promise tougher police and judicial action against climate protesters who have blocked British roads and who have been characterized by Johnson as “irresponsible crusties”.

“I will not tolerate so-called eco-warriors trampling on our way of life and draining police resources,” she said to applause from Tory faithful.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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