250 experts call for Prime Minister Theresa May to use State Visit to challenge President Donald Trump on climate change

President Trump meets with UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, during his visit to the UK in July 2018. Credit: 10 Downing Street

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to confront US President Donald Trump during his State Visit to the United Kingdom over his “reckless” approach to climate change, in a letter made public today and signed by 250 researchers at institutions across the UK.

The letter, signed by academics from universities and research bodies across the UK, states: “The President’s refusal to tackle climate change, and particularly his initiation of the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement, is increasing risks for lives and livelihoods in the United States, the United Kingdom and around the world.”

The letter praises the leading international role the United Kingdom has taken on climate change, including bidding to host the 2020 UN climate change summit. However the letter states that honouring President Trump with a State Visit is “incompatible” with the UK’s leadership on climate change “while he is still undermining United States domestic and international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases”.

It also states that President Trump’s administration “has been abandoning many of the policies and measures, including the Clean Power Plan, introduced by his predecessor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, leading to a 2.7 per cent rise in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by the United States between 2017 and 2018, as well as “removing large amounts of information about climate change from the websites of the White House, Government Departments and federal agencies.” As further evidence, the letter points out that “the White House is considering the creation of a committee to cast doubt on the robust and rigorous analysis presented in the United States Fourth National Climate Assessment.”

The experts argue that Mrs May should use the State Visit, scheduled just days before she is due to resign as leader of the Conservative Party, to “robustly challenge” Mr Trump about his approach to climate change.

The letter calls on the Prime Minister to highlight three main ways in which the President should take action: to accept the scientific evidence of the threat of man-made climate change, to support policies in the United States to reduce greenhouse gases to zero by the middle of the century, and to collaborate with international efforts to combat climate change, including by ending US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Bob Ward, director of policy for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, co-ordinated the letter. Mr Ward said: “President Trump’s refusal to accept and address global climate change is putting at risk lives and livelihoods of current and future generations in the UK.

“The State Visit is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to challenge the President’s reckless approach and advance the UK’s reputation as an international leader on climate change before she steps down as Prime Minister. The special relationship between the UK and USA is meaningless if the government does not use it to confront the actions of a President that are a threat to UK citizens.”

President Donald Trump will arrive in the United Kingdom for his State Visit on Monday (3 June), where he will be greeted at Buckingham Palace by the Queen.

For more information about this media release please contact Bob Ward on +44 (0) 7811 320346 or r.e.ward@lse.ac.uk.

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