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01st Nov 2021

All the times Boris Johnson denied climate change existed

Ava Evans

Boris Johnson has warned the world is ‘one minute to midnight’ on climate change but he hasn’t always been behind efforts to tackle rising global temperatures

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opened the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow today (November 1) with a stark warning that the world has “run down the clock” on climate change.

Johnson likened the situation to a scene in a James Bond film, saying world leaders were grappling with a “doomsday device” that could wipe out humanity.

He said: “We know what the scientists tell us and we have learned not to ignore them,” warning a rise in global temperatures of just four degrees would mean “we say goodbye to whole cities”.

However he hasn’t always been behind efforts to tackle climate change. 

In fact, since coming to office in 2001, he’s arguably shown signs of climate change denial.

“I can’t stand this December heat but it has nothing to do with global warming”

Since becoming an elected MP in 2001, Boris Johnson has earned at least £2.7 million by writing columns in The Daily Telegraph

A mere four years ago, Johnson used the column to downplay the severity of rising global temperatures, describing climate change as a “primitive fear” that is “without foundation”.

In his lucrative weekly column he wrote: “It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation”

Writing in December 2015, Johnson joked: “We may all be sweating in the winter air, but remember, we humans have always put ourselves at the centre of cosmic events”.

According to the Met Office, December 2015 was “easily the warmest December on record across the UK”.

It was a record-breaking month in terms of rainfall and temperature, with no air-frosts recorded whatsoever across Southern England. The Met Office said the month’s temperatures were frequently closer to what might be expected during April or even May.

Dismissing warnings from the UK’s national weather office, Johnson wrote: “There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong – but they don’t include global warming”.

“To call it ‘warming’ is obviously to strain the language”

During a particularly cold January in 2013, Boris Johnson wrote in his column: “Something is up with our winter weather. Could it be the Sun is having a slow patch?”

He added: “I wish I knew more about what is going on, and why. It is time to consult once again the learned astrophysicist, Piers Corbyn.”

Yes – that Piers Corbyn.

Corbyn added some valuable insight. Johnson writes: “According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb”.

Before his infamous recent journey into the world of anti-vaxxing, Jeremy’s brother Piers Corbyn was a known climate change denier.

Writing in his Telegraph column, Boris Johnson said: “Now Piers has a very good record of forecasting the weather. He has been bang on about these cold winters.

“Now I am not for a second saying that I am convinced Piers is right; and to all those scientists and environmentalists who will go wild with indignation on the publication of this article, I say, relax. I certainly support reducing CO2 by retrofitting homes and offices – not least since that reduces fuel bills. I want cleaner vehicles.

Johnson concluded: “I observe that something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it ‘warming’ is obviously to strain the language”.

As an MP, he has ‘generally voted against measures to prevent climate change’

According to the parliamentary vote tracking website TheyWorkForYou, Boris Johnson has “generally voted against measures to prevent climate change”.

As late as October 2019 – only two years ago – Johnson voted against bringing forward “a green industrial revolution to decarbonise the economy and boost economic growth”.

In 2016, he voted against setting a decarbonisation target for the UK and has never voted for financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods.

“There is no evidence that the planet is suffering from the extreme weather patterns associated with climate change”

Before he was an MP, Boris Johnson was the editor of The Spectator and as such, he was invited to write a guest column for – you guessed it – The Daily Telegraph.

In November 2000, Johnson lambasted claims vehicle emissions were responsible for freak weather and mocked the Blair government who were in the midst of battling protestors over the rising cost of fuel.

As Gordon Brown prepared his mini-budget, Johnson decried the rising price of fuel as mere capitulation to the “eco-doomsters”.

Johnson wrote: “It’s a judgment, say the eco-doomsters. If only we hadn’t been so exorbitant as to fill up our tanks. If only we weren’t so selfish as to drive to the supermarkets and to take our children to school by car!

“Because then the evil gases would not have plumed to the heavens and encircled the planet like a funeral winding sheet; then the temperature would not have risen over the past few years, the ice caps would not have melted, the storms would not have been unleashed over the Home Counties!”

Mocking the link between car fumes and rising sea levels, Johnson noted: “Even if it were true that driving cars causes typhoons, these vehicle emissions amount to barely a quarter of atmospheric pollution”.

“Wind farms couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”

In July of 2013, Boris Johnson argued Britain should be exploring the use of shale gas.

Speaking on LBC Johnson criticised the then-Labour government’s efforts to replace closing coal stations with wind power and nuclear arguing: “Labour put in a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding”.

Shale gas is a fossil fuel, meaning it is a non-renewable source of energy.

As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson cut the size of the congestion charging zone. As Prime Minister, he criticised Sadiq Khan for not extending it

The western extension of the London congestion charge – or ‘WEZ’ – was introduced by previous Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to tackle the dangerous levels of air pollution in West London.

In 2010, Johnson cut the area, promising: “The effect on both pollution and congestion, we think, will be vanishingly small.”

Three years later in 2013, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, died from asthma brought on by dangerous vehicle fumes.

Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate. An inquest had found air pollution “made a material contribution” to her death.

In 2020, Johnson instructed the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to extend the congestion charge zone.

I don’t want some double-barrelled activist telling me that air travel is only to be used in emergencies

In a now-deleted Telegraph column from 2019, Johnson criticised the “smug, irritating and disruptive” Extinction Rebellion Campaigners.

Johnson wrote: “And I am utterly fed up with being told by nice young people that their opinions are more important than my own – because they will be around a lot longer than me, and therefore that they have a greater stake in the future of the planet.

“With all due humility to my juniors, I intend to be alive for a very long time.”

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he conceded: “I share some of the irritation at these climate change protesters. I am not in favour of paralysing public transport in the greatest city on Earth, and stopping people from getting to work.

“I don’t want some double-barrelled activist telling me that air travel is only to be used in emergencies – when his own Instagram account contains pictures of his recent skiing holiday”.

In an apparent change of heart, today (November 1), Boris Johnson opened the COP26 climate summit petitioning world leaders to take action – now. He said the average age of world leaders is over 60 and young people want action now, not in 2050/60.

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