More than 130 of the United Kingdom’s climate change researchers have urged the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to challenge President Trump about climate change during his visit later this week, warning that the UK’s national security is at risk.

In a letter made public today (9 July 2018), 135 members of the climate change research community in the UK point out that President Trump’s “policy of inaction” on climate change means that annual energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide from the United States are projected to rise over the next two years.

The letter states: “As the United States is the world’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, President Trump’s policy of inaction on climate change is putting at risk the UK’s national security and its interests overseas.”

It highlights the UK Government’s ‘National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review’, published in November 2015, which identified climate change as a major driver of global risk which threatens stability overseas and the UK’s long-term security. The letter adds: “The UK is already being directly affected by the impacts of climate change: from 2000 onwards, it has experienced its nine warmest years and six of its seven wettest years since records began in 1910.”

The letter states: “We believe that the UK Government should challenge President Trump about this policy of inaction on climate change. President Macron of France has publicly criticised President Trump’s stance and we believe that the UK should take advantage of its special relationship with the United States to show similar leadership. We do not believe that the best interests of the UK, or the rest of the world, would be best served by attempting to appease President Trump on this issue.”

The letter draws attention to a number of actions by President Trump, including his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement and his refusal to discuss climate change at the recent G7 summit, as evidence that “the United States Government will not contribute to international efforts to manage the substantial risks caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”.

Highlighting the Prime Minister’s “international leadership” on climate change, the letter suggests that the UK Government “can demonstrate, for instance, that economic growth does not have to be sacrificed in order to tackle climate change”.

It notes that between 1990 and 2016, the UK’s real gross domestic product per capita, a measure of the country’s average wealth, increased by 46 per cent while its annual emissions of greenhouse gases fell by 41 per cent. Over the same period, the GDP per capita of the United States rose by just 44 per cent and its emissions climbed by 2.4 per cent.

The letter states: “In refusing to take action on climate change, President Trump is ignoring the advice both of international experts and of experts in the United States, such as the Global Change Research Program and the National Academy of Sciences. Since his inauguration as President in January 2017, Mr. Trump has overseen a number of actions to undermine climate researchers in the United States whose findings are used by policy-makers around the world.”

It concludes: “Above all, the UK government should make the argument that policy-making about climate change should be based on the best available evidence. Policy-makers should draw on the findings of the global climate research community, and take account of the risks it poses across the world and to future generations. Climate change should not be treated as if it were just as an issue of partisan domestic politics.”

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