After May’s disastrous election campaign resulted in a likely Tory-DUP coalition, the environmental future of the UK looks troublesome. The coalition of the science-rejecting Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) and the Conservatives already-weak stance on fighting climate change give us an idea of how the environment will be prioritised in the next few Tory-led years.
The DUP from Northern Ireland look to give May and the Conservatives the majority they need to be the leading party in the UK. The 10 seats they won in Northern Ireland will take the Conservatives above the magic 326 seats in Parliament. The DUP now have a critical role in shaping UK politics until the next election, but who are the DUP?
At this point, I could talk about their links to terrorist groups, their record on LGBT rights, abortion, etc., all of which strongly differs from the rest of UK society. As a blog on sustainability and the environment, however, it is their stance on environmental science that I find worrying. A number of the MPs that were elected just a few days ago are ‘born-again Christians’ and believe that the earth is only 4,000 years old.
In Northern Ireland, the DUP have blocked environmental legislation that aimed to create a strategy for Northern Ireland to reduce its negative impact on the climate. The party’s environment minister, Sammy Wilson, is a major climate change skeptic, has called climate change ‘a giant con’ and banned adverts that encouraged people to reduce their carbon footprints as ‘propaganda’. He’s everything you could want in an environment minister!
It’s not just the DUP that is problematic for the environment. Today, in a cabinet reshuffle by Theresa May, the infamous Brexiteer, Mr. Michael Gove, has become the UK’s Environmental Secretary. A man that as Education Secretary pushed for teaching climate change (as a science) to be removed from the curriculum and has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change.
For the Conservatives, putting someone who seems unable to understand climate science in the position of Environment Secretary isn’t much of a change. His predecessor, Andrea Leadsom went into her role as Environment Secretary not knowing what climate change was.
With Brexit negotiations beginning in just a few days time, Gove will be in charge of negotiating how the UK will separate from EU legislation that was brought in to protect the environment and prevent climate change. He will also have to find a way to fund the fishing and agricultural subsidies that are currently funded by the EU.
Good luck with that Mr. Gove…