Conservative warns of climate change 'vacuum and silence'
Conservative MP and ex-climate adviser Chris Skidmore has warned of a "vacuum and silence" in government on climate change. The ex-minister said a lack of vision from ministers could allow "climate detractors" to set the agenda. His comments come as internal documents suggest the government is set to break its climate funding pledges. No 10 insists it will meet the 11.6bn spending target aimed at developing nations dealing with climate change. But, government papers seen by the BBC say the UK will struggle to meet its 2026 deadline for providing the funding. Last week, Lord Zac Goldsmith resigned as a minister, accusing Rishi Sunak of "apathy" over climate change. Asked about the resignation at a conference in central London on net-zero policies, Mr Skidmore did not echo Lord Goldsmith's scathing criticism. However, he said the government had "got to keep on making the case, and at the moment there is a vacuum and silence". He said politicians needed to "provide a vision" to voters adding "that is what is needed at this time". "That's the challenge, because otherwise that space will get filled. "It will either get filled by the Labour Party with their green industrial policy, or it will get filled by the climate delayers and detractors who then dominate the front pages of the Telegraph and the Mail. "If you're not willing to show leadership, someone else will." A government spokesperson responded: "We can be proud of the UK's record as a world leader on net zero. We are going far beyond other countries and delivering tangible progress whilst bringing down energy bills with hundreds of pounds coming off bills. "With a new department dedicated to delivering net zero and energy security, we are driving economic growth, creating jobs, bringing down energy bills, and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels. "The UK is also cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country and attracting billions of investment into renewables, which now account for 40% of our electricity." Mr Skidmore is one of the Conservative party's keenest advocates for pursuing net-zero policies - plans that ensure the UK is not adding to the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Last year, he was commissioned by then-Prime Minister Liz Truss to review the government's delivery of net zero to ensure it was "pro-growth and pro-business". Mr Skidmore, who is standing down as an MP at the next general election, told the Institute for Government event that having voted against the government on fracking In October, he had been "fully prepared to be sacked" from his climate role. However, the following day Ms Truss resigned, "and I was left in post," he said. Addressing the same conference, Labour's shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said climate change was a "great threat" but also provided a "great opportunity". He argued that changing the UK's sources of energy would ensure the country was not "at the mercies of the Putins of this world". The UK has been trying to decrease its reliance on Russian oil and gas since the invasion of Ukraine last year. Last month, Labour watered down its pledge to invest 28bn a year in green industries. The party says it will ramp up investment over time, if it wins the next general election. Mr Miliband said his party was still committing to a "significant sum". What does net zero mean? Net zero delay will hurt economy, MPs review says Is the UK on track to meet its climate targets? Morocco rescuers dig with bare hands as foreign aid sent US denies Cold War with China in historic Vietnam visit How Russia and West agreed on Ukraine G20 language How Russia and West agreed on Ukraine G20 language US denies Cold War with China in historic Vietnam visit 'Everyone in this village is either dead or missing' A Serbian scientist's long quest to name Srebrenica's dead How chronic pain feels for me. Video How chronic pain feels for me Guyana scrambles to make the most of oil wealth The spongy creatures cleaning Zanzibar's oceans. Video The spongy creatures cleaning Zanzibar's oceans Inside a 'hijacked' South African building. Video Inside a 'hijacked' South African building The rise and fall of a parenting influencer Florida's first hurricane-proof town The greatest spy novel ever written? Why is everyone crazy about Aperol? 2023 BBC.