Michael Gove slams Trump over climate change saying US is ‘walking out when the heat is on’

Environment Secretary says 'It’s our planet too and America needs to know we can only resolve this problem together'

Ian Johnston
Environment Correspondent
Friday 21 July 2017 11:58
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Michael Gove pointed out that environmental factors had caused the collapse of civilisations 'again and again' over history
Michael Gove pointed out that environmental factors had caused the collapse of civilisations 'again and again' over history

Michael Gove has attacked Donald Trump over his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, saying the world’s second biggest source of greenhouse gases could not “simply walk out of the room when the heat is on”.

In a speech in which the Environment Secretary promised a “green Brexit”, Mr Gove said he “deeply” regretted the move by the US President, who once described global warming as a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

However he also expressed hope that Mr Trump was reconsidering the decision,

Mr Gove said environmental factors had brought about “collapse or crisis” that destroyed past civilisations “again and again” over history.

He pointed to evidence of new threats posed by “climate change, the build-up of toxins in our soil, air and oceans and the spiralling level of resource consumption, waste generation and demand for energy which all threaten human progress in the future”.

“It is because environmental degradation is such a threat to future prosperity and security that I deeply regret President Trump’s approach towards the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” Mr Gove said in a speech at environmental charity WWF-UK.

“I sincerely hope the recent indications that the President may be minded to think again do signal a change of heart.

“International co-operation to deal with climate change is critical if we’re to safeguard our planet’s future and the world’s second biggest generator of carbon emissions can’t simply walk out of the room when the heat is on.

“It’s our planet too and America needs to know we can only resolve this problem together.”

He pointed to the “devastating impact climate change can have on societies” described in a book about the 17th century, Global Crisis by Geoffrey Parker.

“Parker charts the collapse of hemispherically dominant regimes from China to Spain and the outbreak of devastating civil wars in the UK and across Europe all driven, or exacerbated, by the resource challenges generated by climate change,” Mr Gove said.

“History teaches us that unless we prepare for these challenges we will be undone.”

WWF-UK’s chief executive, Tanya Steele, welcomed the tone of the Environment Secretary’s remarks about the US withdrawal from the Paris accord.

“We’re pleased that Michael Gove has made clear his, and the Government’s, disappointment at President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate deal and, in doing so, he is reflecting the view of the British people,” she said.

“Climate change is a global issue that affects the future of everyone on our planet; it is essential that the UK steps up to the plate and continues to show leadership.”

Ben Caldecott, an associate fellow at the Conservative think thank Bright Blue, also praised Mr Gove.

“The Secretary of State is absolutely right that we have a unique opportunity to dramatically enhance UK environment policy. The direction and ambition of the Government’s policy is clear and we warmly endorse it, particularly the announcement to ban microbeads and address ocean pollution," he said.

"The next step is developing many more specific policies, legal protections, and budgetary support to realise this vision and we look forwarding to working with Gove and his team at Defra on these topics.”

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