“Specious and unhelpful” – Tory MP hits back at THAT poll

Graham Stuart says survey saying over half of Conservatives are climate sceptic is misleading 

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By Megan Darby

A Conservative MP has spoken  out against partisan narratives on climate change, after a poll suggested more than half his colleagues were sceptical of the science.

Graham Stuart attacked as “specious and unhelpful” the poll commissioned by PR Week.

Of 57 Conservative MPs who responded to the survey, 53% said the theory of man-made climate change had not been “conclusively proved”. A further 18% said it was an “environmentalist conspiracy”.

Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs were much more likely to agree with the third option, that it was “an established scientific fact” climate change was largely man-made.

Richard Black, director of the newly established Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said in a blog that the pollsters had asked the wrong question.

The latest IPCC report said scientists are 95% certain human activities are causing climate change. That is a strong likelihood, but not technically conclusive proof.

Accordingly, the results do not show that most Conservative MPs are climate sceptics or deniers, Black argued.

Stuart, who is on the advisory board of ECIU, told RTCC the way the poll was represented “further alienates and solidifies a sense that the climate issue is one used by the left for its own purposes”.

Dividing people into believers and deniers is “counterproductive”, he said. “Climate is too important for people to try and score political points with it.”

A chair of Globe International and former member of the Environmental Audit Committee, Stuart has been engaged with the climate change debate for some time.

“I have heard from lots of scientists over the years and I recognise the risks which the science suggests we face if we cannot find ways of limiting our total emissions.”

While Stuart is convinced of the need to act on climate change, he has “a lot of sympathy” for those who take a more sceptical view.

That includes Nigel Lawson, former chancellor and founder of sceptic lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Peter Lilley, one of three Conservative MP to vote against the UK’s Climate Change Act.

Lilley and Lawson “are not idiots and are not dishonest”, said Stuart.

“There are colleagues who feel such is the vitriol, the partisan way that so much of the conversation is conducted, that they suspect it is some kind of left wing plot…

“Some of my sceptical colleagues think this left wing conspiracy will keep the poor poor. They have reason to believe that is a risk. They don’t deserve to be derided for that.”

He suggested advocates of action should place less emphasis on the level of certainty and talk more about the risks.

Even if some do not accept the IPCC’s assessment it is 95% certain human activity causes climate change, Stuart said they could be persuaded by the “potential extremely negative consequences”.

He emphasised the need to make mitigation measures “affordable and politically acceptable”, for example by bring down the costs of renewable energy.

“It is so important to get the right messages out there and focus on building a broader consensus on the need for action.”

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