UK minister in a spin over climate change doubters

March 4, 2009

As a top-flight racing driver, Britain’s Science Minister Paul Drayson may seem an unlikely critic of the auto industry.

The self-confessed “car nut” owns a motor racing team and competes in a 200mph Aston Martin in competitions around the world.

 But at a news conference in London, he attacked the “significant minority” of auto industry executives who he claims still deny the evidence for climate change.

 “It shocked me that those views were held by senior managers,” he said. “I have been actually quite surprised…(by) how many of them just do not accept the scientific evidence around climate change. It really shocked me.”

 Climate change is “the greatest challenge of our generation”, he added, and the problem is bigger than the global economic crisis.

 Pressed by reporters to name the doubting managers and their companies, Drayson declined and said the sceptical attitude was not confined to the car industry.

 He had met industrialists in all sectors who have yet to be convinced that human activities contribute to climate change.

 Car makers around the world say they are committed to reducing emissions blamed for contributing to global warming and are working hard to make their products more environmentally friendly. Battered by the economic downturn, they say they need more state aid to switch to electric and hybrid cars.

 While Drayson accepted that many in the car industry do accept the evidence for climate change, he said it was crucial to persuade the rest of the grave threats that lie ahead.

 “What we need to do is present them with the evidence to say this can’t wait,” he told reporters at the Royal Institution, an independent charity devoted to scientific research.

 Part of that evidence will come, he hopes, from a new UK-based coalition that will use satellites to monitor the Earth’s climate, sea levels and atmosphere.

 More than 100 scientists from 26 British universities will work for the National Centre for Earth Observation, studying some of the biggest environmental questions.

 Its director Alan O’Neill said it will be a “vital tool in measuring and managing the health of the planet”. It could help see where earthquakes or volcanoes are likely to occur next, he added.

 “This research is of vital importance,” Drayson said. “It is very hard to look at this data and still maintain the position that climate change isn’t happening.”


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Claiming that climate change isn’t happening is one thing but claiming that humans are responsible is another thing altogether. In some minds, a severe snow storm proves that it isn’t happening and I still see people claiming that a volcanic eruption like Pinatubo exceeds the yearly CO2 emissions of humankind. Or they’ll harken back to the short lived story of the 70s that the globe was actually cooling and take it as gospel for the future. Then there are the businesses that foster the propaganda that humans aren’t responsible because limiting emissions will cost them money.
Meanwhile, the number of humans on earth continues to grow which will make the emissions problems more severe since we need to continually “grow” world economies.
So I seriously doubt that CO2 emissions will even stabilize at close to current levels, much less be reduced to anything approaching 1990 levels.
Considering increasing populations, pollution, dwindling resources, warming and many other problems, I think humanity has already “bought the farm” but the majority of citizens are not quite aware of it yet even in the advanced countries.
It’s sad. Especially for the youngsters being born.

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

Classic …It’s really great that Politican are focussing on the climate change issue.Going green in our lives is all about achieving sustainability meaning we’re able to complete our day-to-day activities with a minimal impact on the environment. Making a sustainable decision about travelling is particularly significant given the impact transport has on the environment overall. The way we travel is one of the single biggest generators of CO2 and other toxic substances, a direct cause of climate change and the greenhouse effect. So making a sustainable transport choice will greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
By the way, for your reading interested in funding for climate change ideas. Check out te Four winners will receive $200,000 each to pursure their ‘Changing Climate Change’ idea. This initiative is being run by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Posted by NatureAdvice | Report as abusive

Glad to see some industrialists have still got the heads screwed on properly.
The climate is always changing – due to Atlantic Multidecadal Oscilation and Dansguard Oeschger /Heinrich Event…look it up!

p.s. the Nasa satelite that showed massive ice disappearance in the artic has been proved to be faulty

Posted by Jeremy | Report as abusive

Yes Jeremy this may be true, but do you know just how hard it is to get any form of research grant from an instituation academic or industrial that differs from current thought on global warning.

Posted by nick | Report as abusive

All this hand wringing and dire warnings about climate change.
Sorry, whilst the world population continues to grow at around 1.5 million A WEEK, I cannot take it seriously. Obviously world leaders are ignoring this future catastrophe, so carry on and enjoy yourselves everybody.
All those extra houses, schools, hospitals,cars, white goods, brown goods, etc. etc., needed week in, week out. Ho hum.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive