UK minister in a spin over climate change doubters
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.”