Donald Trump UK visit: US president is ‘putting British national security at risk’, say over 100 top climate scientists

UK already feeling effects of extreme weather driven by climate change, and in open letter researchers urge Theresa May to challenge climate-sceptic US president

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Monday 09 July 2018 00:22 BST
Climate scientists have urged Theresa May to challenge the US president on his climate ‘inaction’
Climate scientists have urged Theresa May to challenge the US president on his climate ‘inaction’ (Getty)

The UK’s top climate change researchers have issued a desperate plea to Theresa May, urging her to challenge Donald Trump over climate change during his visit.

In a letter signed by over 100 scientists from across the country, they said the US president is putting the UK’s national security at risk by ignoring climate change and allowing carbon emissions to continue unabated.

Mr Trump famously withdrew his country from the historic Paris climate agreement in 2017, claiming it was “very unfair to the US”.

As a result, emissions from the US energy sector are projected to rise rapidly over the next two years.

The letter states: “As the US is the world’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, President Trump’s policy of inaction on climate change is putting at risk the UK’s national security and its interests overseas.”

The UK is already feeling the effects of a changing climate, with increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather hitting the nation’s shores in recent years.

Since 2000, the country has experienced its warmest and wettest years since records began, and scientists think this extreme weather trend will only get worse.

The 135 signees of the open letter point to the UK government’s own “National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review” as evidence for the existential threat posed by climate change.

Donald Trump on climate change: 'There is a cooling and there is a heating'

That document, published in 2015, describes climate change as “one of the biggest long term challenges for the future of our planet”.

It outlines how rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events will cause havoc both in the UK and on a global scale.

Written when Barack Obama was still president, the review also describes how the UK “will work with the US to deliver more for global stability and our shared interests”.

Mr Trump has previously revealed a misunderstanding of some of the basic tenets of climate change, suggesting that the ice caps were now at “a record level”. He has even suggested that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.

Though Ms May has yet to raise the issue of climate change with Mr Trump, the UK’s has made considerable progress in tackling the issue, especially when compared to the US.

While both nations have seen their GDP per capita increase by around the same amount since 1990, the UK’s emissions have been slashed by over 40 per cent while across the Atlantic they increased by 2.4 per cent.

The scientists said this achievement should prove to Mr Trump that it is “possible to achieve economic growth while strongly reducing annual emissions of greenhouse gases”.

Other national leaders such as Emmanuel Macron of France have publicly criticised Mr Trump’s stance, and the researchers said the UK “should take advantage of its special relationship” to do the same.

“We do not believe that the best interests of the UK, or the rest of the world, would be best served by attempting to appease President Trump on this issue,” they concluded.

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