A co-author with Prince Charles of a new book on climate change formally launched last week has called on Theresa May to challenge Donald Trump on the issue.
Emily Shuckburgh, a scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, said early signs from the new US president had “raised alarm bells” and it was vital that May highlighted the opportunities as well as the challenges posed by global warming.
“The climate is changing, that’s what the data says. You can have all the alternative facts in the world but you are not going to get around that,” said Shuckburgh who is also an academic at Darwin College, Cambridge.
“From everything I see so far it would appear that Donald Trump is a pragmatic businessman and looking at this purely through the lense of a business opportunity, its quite obvious there is a huge opportunity in a sensible but rapid transition to a low carbon world.
“The early signals have raised alarm bells but many people have commented that actually the low carbon, clean tech, transition is now well established. There was a very large gathering of tech people in San Francisco before Christmas and there were pictures of a protest outside that struck a chord with me. Someone held up a banner saying: ‘ice does not do politics, it just melts’ and in a way that sums it up: the climate is changing, that’s what the data says. You can have all the alternative facts in the world but you are not going to get around that,” Shuckburgh added.
The new US president, who in 2012 described climate change as a hoax, has in recent days further shaken the climate change community by telling the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the links to global warming issues off its website. He has also made a leading oilman, Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and said he wants to promote more oil drilling on federal land. Trump meets May tomorrow, his first face to face meeting with a foreign premier since his inauguration.
Shuckburg, who wrote the Ladybird book with Prince Charles and former Friends of the Earth leader, Tony Juniper, says most countries are determined to prepare for a lower carbon world.
May, who met with Trump last week, is better placed than others to speak out because Britain has been at the forefront of action to tackle global warming through its groundbreaking Climate Change Act and other initiatives, says the Cambridge academic.
“The science is absolutely clear that the climate is changing and the dominant cause of the warming we have seen over the last 50 years is human activities but aligned to that is the fact that responding to the climate challenge is a huge opportunity. It is an opportunity for innovation and driving new jobs, for improving health of many million people around the world not least those suffering from the effects of air pollution. “
Shuckburgh said that climate change action could improve the quality of life for people in the United States so Trump could either look at the issue in terms of a threat or as an opportunity.
“In both cases it is critically important to highlight the scale of the challenge and the urgency of the challenge. Those are the two twin messages that I would want her (May) to relay.