Cameron's team turn on Davis for attack on green agenda

Battle rages in Tory party after Independent reveals revolt on climate change

Conservative climate change sceptics are "eccentrics" who will not be allowed to influence the party's environmental policy, an ally of David Cameron insisted yesterday.

Tim Yeo, the former environment minister, criticised David Davis for writing that targets for cutting carbon emissions were “destined to collapse”, and dismissed the former shadow Home Secretary as having “no authority on this subject”.

Mr Yeo, who now chairs the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, hit back at Tory critics of Mr Cameron’s stance on green issues and predicted that climate change sceptics will have disappeared in five years.

Mr Yeo said: “A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the [climate change] evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.

“The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about [there being] a man-made contribution to climate change.”

He declared that Mr Cameron would head a “green” government after the general election and would not water down his commitment to the environment.

Mr Davis yesterday called for a new “middle way” approach to global warming in an article in The Independent which highlighted Tory divisions ahead of next week’s crucial Copenhagen summit.

In the Commons, Gordon Brown made a thinly-veiled attack on Mr Davis. He said intermediate targets that major countries were set to propose should be “sufficiently ambitious” to achieve at least a 50 per cent cut in global carbon emissions by 2050. He added: “I hope that despite doubts expressed from some parts of the Opposition, that there will be all-party support for that deal.”

Labour challenged Tory sceptics to reveal whether they had financial links to the oil industry. It claimed that two of the most prominent Tory doubters, the former Cabinet ministers Lord Lawson of Blaby and Peter Lilley, had such links.

Lord Lawson has “significant shareholdings” in the Central Europe Trust, whose clients include Total Fina Elf, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Texaco, and BP Amaco. He is also chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, whose “primary purpose is to help restore balance and trust in the climate debate that is frequently distorted by prejudice and exaggeration”. The group shares a London office with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Mr Lilley is a non-executive director of Tethys Petroleum Limited, an oil and gas exploration company.

There is no suggestion that their actions in Parliament were influenced by their business interest and Tory sources said the two former ministers had a long track record of questioning the science of climate change.

Labour MP Emily Thornberry MP said: “Behind David Cameron’s photo-ops on the arctic ice, the Tory Party hasn’t changed – climate change deniers, big oil men and non-doms can still happily take high profile positions.

“Nigel Lawson and Peter Lilley have vocally denied the danger posed by climate change; both appear to have lucrative links to the oil industry. I am writing to both Lord Lawson and Peter Lilley to ask them to clarify whether their connections to the oil industry have any bearing on their statements in Parliament and the media.”

Mr Yeo said: “David Davis is not an authority on this subject. If he says something about immigration or policing, we might need to pay some attention to that.”

He added: “We need some sort of spur for action. Although targets are far from perfect, they are a necessary part of that. We also need emissions and trading and performance standards for power stations and car engines. But without them [targets] there would not be enough pressure on governments, businesses and individuals.”

In a report yesterday, the all-party committee said the emissions cuts to be discussed in Copenhagen still only give the world a 50- 50 chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change. Negotiators should aim for more stringent cuts, it said.

Ed Miliband MP, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “The true face of the Tory party is on show. No amount of riding around with huskies can conceal the fact that the Conservative Party has closed its ears to the science. David Cameron might cycle for the cameras – but his party is chugging off in the other direction in a fleet of gas guzzlers.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn