Global Warming ‘Skeptics’ Hold Political Sway From The UK To India

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Skepticism of global warming may be more widespread than it is portrayed in the media, with nearly half of British lawmakers being labelled as climate “skeptics” and India’s prime minister casting doubt on claims of man-made global warming.

A special report by PR Week shows that a vast majority of conservative members of UK Parliament are that mankind is the main driver behind global temperature rises. While a slight majority (51 percent) of members of parliament (MPs) say that global warming “is largely man made” and an established fact, nearly three quarters of conservative MPs disagree.

PR Week reports that 53 percent of conservative MPs agree with the statement that it “has not yet been conclusively proved that climate change is man made.” Another 18 percent of conservative MPs say “man-made climate change is environmentalist propaganda”.

A public poll also taken by PR Week shows that only about one-third of British voters believe global warming claims have been exaggerated. The poll also showed that 80 percent of British voters believes that global warming is happening and 60 percent believe it’s mainly caused by humans.

An Ipsos Mori poll from July shows that the U.S., UK and Australia still have large numbers of people who remain skeptical of global warming, despite the huge media and political blitz from environmentalists and politicians. About a third of Americans remain skeptical of global warming, according to Ipsos Mori. They are joined by about a quarter of Brits and Aussies.

India’s Prime Minister Says Global Warming ‘Has Not Occurred’

On the other side of the globe, India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently made some comments that have the media outing him as a global warming skeptic.

Answering questions about global warming on Teachers’ Day, Modi told people that “[c]limate change has not occurred,” adding that “[p]eople have changed.” Modi then gave an example of how elderly Indians are complaining of harsher winters every year.

“It’s just people losing tolerance for cold as they age,” Modi said, according to a report by the Business Standard. “Modi said the real problem is people have lost old values, picked up bad habits and therefore harmed environment. He said people are acting against nature and that has upset the balance. We must love nature again, he concluded.”

Modi’s comments baffled Indian political pundits. How could the man who wrote a book on responding to global warming in 2011 and made speeches about tackling the issue while eradicating poverty say global warming hasn’t occurred?

“Well, the book is just as befuddling,” writes Indian columnist Netin Sethi for the Business Standard. “It’s an illustrated thick pamphlet of what all the government of Gujarat has done to combat and adapt to climate change. But, it mixes up concepts just as the PM mixed up civic duty of citizens, scientific facts and metaphors in his speech on Teacher’s Day.”

“Narendra Modi, in his earlier scripted speeches as prime minister, however, sounded anything but a climate skeptic,” Sethi writes, adding that Modi has prioritized reducing poverty over environmental goals.

“His team of negotiators are acting in a consistent manner with the laid down brief on international climate change policies,” writes Sethi. “One, poverty eradication is a national priority. Two, there are climate co-benefits to be derived from taking actions that also provide energy security. Three, India is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Four, the route to an ambitious global agreement can be built only on a substratum of equity among nations.”

But since Modi has become prime minister, he has made efforts to jump start India’s coal sector and target environmental groups with an anti-development agenda. The UK Guardian reports that Modi “has dismantled a number of environmental protections, clearing the way for new coal mines and other industrial projects,” and “blocked funds to Greenpeace and other environmental groups.”

Modi will also not be attending the upcoming United Nations climate summit this month, joining China’s leader and others in opting not to attend the conference.

The conference will feature a major march by environmental groups and more pleas from the U.N. for countries to agree on an international, binding climate treaty. While any real progress is doubtful this year, countries are gearing up for a major climate summit in 2015 that is supposed to craft an agreement to replace the defunct Kyoto Protocol.

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