Zac Goldsmith steps down, says PM Is ‘uninterested’ in tackling climate crisis
Zac Goldsmith has stepped down from his role as the UK’s Minister for climate and environment on the international stage, stating that he is “horrified” at the Prime Minister’s “apathy” in these areas.
Goldsmith sent his resignation letter to 10 Downing Street this morning (30 June) and has posted a full copy on his Twitter.
The letter explains how Goldsmith is “horrified” that the UK has “abandoned” its environmental commitments – domestically and on the world stage – since it hosted COP26 in winter 2021.
Goldsmith writes of how the UK had, since setting its net-zero target in 2019, “been the driving force behind successful global efforts” to create a new biodiversity treaty. It has also been the first major economy to mandate climate risk reporting, and negotiated in global deals on matters including forest protection and scaling cleantech manufacturing.
“I won’t pretend we have gone nearly far or fast enough, but there is no doubt that we have made meaningful progress since 2019,” he writes.
He contrasts this with how the UK is being perceived, in terms of its environmental efforts, since Boris Johnson stepped down as PM last summer.
He claims that the UK has “visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn leadership on climate and nature”, with the PM failing to attend the recent discussions on international climate finance in Paris and with the commitment for increased international climate aid unlikely to come to fruition.
Goldsmith also bemoaned slow decision-making under Rishi Sunak’s Government, compounded by increasingly “polarized” debates on environmental issues, which have led to a “kind of paralysis”.
He concludes his letter by stating that “this Government’s apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced makes continuing in my current role untenable”.
Goldsmith’s resignation comes shortly after the UK’s climate advisors warned that they are now less confident in the UK’s ability to deliver on its legally binding emissions goals post-2030 than they were this time last year.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) also expressed concerns about how the UK is increasingly sending mixed signals on the world stage, contrasting the current Government’s push for fossil fuel expansion and its failure to deliver a proper land-use programme with its rhetoric at international forums.
However, there will doubtless be questions about whether this is the only reason Goldsmith has resigned. Goldsmith was one of several Tory MPs and peers named and shamed in a new report this week into parties held during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Goldsmith retweeted a Tweet calling the inquiry into ‘partygate’ a “witch hunt” and a “kangaroo court”. Yet this report prompted Johnson to resign as an MP.
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