British researchers urge Prime Minister to “challenge robustly” President Trump on climate change ahead of NATO summit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump meet at the G7 Summit. Credit: Number10/Flickr

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been urged to “challenge robustly” President Donald Trump about the risks of climate change in a letter, published today (2 December 2019), from 350 members of the climate change research community in the United Kingdom.

The letter, which was sent to 10 Downing Street on 29 November, draws attention to President Trump’s “reckless approach to climate change and his false claims about the Paris Agreement”, and points out that climate change is a “recognised threat to the national security of the United Kingdom”. President Trump is due to arrive in the United Kingdom this week for the NATO Leaders Meeting.

The NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, told an audience in Australia this summer that it is important to realise that climate change has security implications because “it can force people to move, change the way we live, where we live, and so on, and of course that can fuel conflicts”.

The letter states: “President Trump’s unscientific denial of the risks of climate change is harming lives and livelihoods of people in the United Kingdom, United States and across the world. His attempts to undermine the Paris Agreement are making the world a more dangerous place and threatening the prosperity and safety of current and future generations.”

It adds: “We urge you to challenge President Trump about his irresponsible approach to climate change, and seek to persuade him both to take strong domestic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to join coordinated international action, including the Paris Agreement.”

The letter notes that the United Kingdom is likely to be confirmed later this month as the co-host of the crucial United Nations climate change summit in 2020. Mr Johnson’s Government has indicated that, if confirmed, the summit will take place in Glasgow between 9 and 20 November 2020.

Countries are expected to submit ahead of the summit revised national pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, President Trump has initiated the withdrawal of the United States from the Agreement, a process that is due to be completed on 4 November 2020.

The letter highlights false claims made recently by President Trump who said that the Paris Agreement would mean “shutting down American producers with excessive regulatory restrictions like you would not believe, while allowing foreign producers to pollute with impunity”. The White House’s website also wrongly describes the Agreement as “fraudulent, ineffective, and one-sided”.

The decision about whether the United Kingdom will co-host the 2020 summit with Italy will be formally taken at the 2019 United Nations climate change summit, which begins in Madrid today (2 December 2019).

The letter cites the UK Government’s ‘National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review’, published in November 2015, which warned of the risks of climate change. The letter also refers to the statement for the record earlier this year by the United States Director of National Intelligence on the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which stated: “Global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond”. The letter indicates that President Trump has “ignored the warnings about climate change from scientists and national security experts”.

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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