May urged to confront Trump over climate change approach

Hundreds of climate change experts have urged Theresa May to confront Donald Trump over his approach to the issue during his state visit this week.

A letter signed by 250 academics from universities and research bodies across the UK states the US president’s “refusal” to tackle global warming is “increasing risks for lives and livelihoods” around the world.

The experts praise the UK’s international role in tackling climate change but say Mr Trump’s visit is “incompatible” with it while he is “undermining” US domestic and international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

It reads: “The president’s refusal to tackle climate change, and particularly his initiation of the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement, is increasing risks for lives and livelihoods in the United States, the United Kingdom and around the world.”

They urge the Prime Minister to tell Mr Trump to accept the scientific evidence of the threat of man-made climate change; support policies in the US to reduce greenhouse gases to zero by 2050, and collaborate with international efforts to combat climate change.

The president has previously called climate change a “Chinese hoax” and “bullshit”.

Bob Ward, director of policy for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, co-ordinated the letter.

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He said: “President Trump’s refusal to accept and address global climate change is putting at risk lives and livelihoods of current and future generations in the UK.

“The state visit is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to challenge the president’s reckless approach and advance the UK’s reputation as an international leader on climate change before she steps down as Prime Minister.

“The special relationship between the UK and USA is meaningless if the Government does not use it to confront the actions of a president that are a threat to UK citizens.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has raised climate change with the president before and will do so again during his visit.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for the UK. We are driving forward international action through our work at the UN and with our Commonwealth partners, and we’re proud to have offered to host COP26 in 2020.

“As the Prime Minister has said previously, we were disappointed by the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017 and continue to hope they will return.”