Boris Johnson

From COVID-19 Deniers to Climate Activists — Looking Back at the Faces of 2020

Read time: 8 mins
Climate activism in London

Expectations for 2020 were quickly thrown up in the air as the coronavirus spread rapidly around the world.

The annual United Nations climate conference, COP26, was cancelled as world leaders struggled to contain infections and in many nations wide-ranging restrictions to tackle the virus forced profound changes to citizens’ lives – travel drew to a halt and many began to live more locally. 

New Youth Climate Lawsuit Launched Against UK Government on Five Year Anniversary of Paris Agreement

Read time: 6 mins
Boris Johnson

Three young British citizens and the climate litigation charity Plan B today announced they are taking legal action against the UK government for failing to sufficiently address the climate crisis.

The announcement comes on the five year anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement the international accord intended to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and the lawsuit is the latest in a cascade of litigation around the world aimed at holding governments and polluters accountable for fuelling climate change.

Comment: Tree-planting's All Well And Good – But It's High Time We Addressed UK's Deforestation Guilt

Read time: 4 mins

By Jo Blackman, Head of Forests Policy and Advocacy at Global Witness

In his plans to introduce a Green Industrial Revolution, Boris Johnson has raised the idea of mass tree-planting programmes as a way of mitigating some of the impacts of climate change. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister repeated his commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year in his much-vaunted 10-point climate plan.

This is all well and good, but its impact on addressing global warming will be negligible unless the much bigger issue of the UK’s imported deforestation of products from climate-critical rainforests like the Amazon is addressed. 

UK Government's COP26 Sponsorship Choice 'Nowhere Near Good Enough', Campaigners Say

Read time: 4 mins

Campaigners are demanding the Government reject greenwash by excluding all major polluters from sponsorship of next year’s pivotal UN climate talks.

The UK has this week announced its first four partners for COP26: energy giants SSE and Scottish Power, the National Grid (owned by both SSE and Scottish Power) and banking firm NatWest Group.

How the UK's Climate Science Deniers Turned Their Attention to COVID-19

Read time: 16 mins
COVID and climate deniers

On December 31, 2019 many of us were reflecting on the past year and thinking about what opportunities lay ahead. Few were paying close attention to early reports of unexplained cases of pneumonia thousands of miles away in Wuhan, the large capital city of China’s Hubei Province.

But less than three months later, on March 23, Boris Johnson was ordering a national lockdown to try and stop that virus, by then known worldwide as COVID-19, from raging across the UK. This came 52 days after the chief medical officer of England had confirmed the nation’s first two cases.

The coronavirus crisis once again saw the UK divided — between those putting their trust in public health experts and their recommendations, and those quick to question the science on which the government claimed to base its decisions for controlling the pandemic. For those who have watched the decades-long efforts to slow climate action, this was a familiar phenomenon. And the coronavirus pandemic seemed to give fresh ammunition to some familiar faces.

Climate Campaigners Launch Legal Challenge to ‘Catastrophic’ Government Recovery Package

Read time: 4 mins
Boris Johnson

Climate activists are planning to take the government to court over its COVID-19 bailout package, as they urge the UK to face up to its responsibility to tackle climate change.

Plan B, a climate litigation charity, says Boris Johnson vowed his government would “build back greener” but is instead using billions of pounds of public money to prop up fossil fuel corporations without financing a transition to a clean and sustainable economy.

Mapped: Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network

Read time: 14 mins
Boris Johnson Tufton Street map

Boris Johnson has retained a core of ministers linked to a lobbying network pushing to weaken the UK’s environmental regulations in his first cabinet reshuffle since the general election. But the day also saw a number of high-profile sackings, potentially weakening the network’s influence in Downing Street.

While there are few outright climate science deniers in Johnson’s cabinet, a number of ministers have strong ties to groups based in and around Westminster's Tufton Street, with many special advisers (SPADs) being alumni of organisations attached to the address.

Alok Sharma: The Minister with Nine Months to Prepare UK for Global Climate Talks

Read time: 5 mins
Photograph of Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma has today been appointed President of COP26, the UN climate negotiations taking place in Glasgow later this year, following Claire O’Neill’s removal from the post last month.

Sharma, who has served as an MP for Reading West since 2010 and was previously Secretary of State for International Development, will also lead the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), replacing Andrea Leadsom. He previously served as the Minister for Employment and Housing in Theresa May’s government and was the Conservative Party Vice-Chairman from 2012 to 2015.

Environment Secretary George Eustice: A Farmers' Favourite With a Patchy Record on Climate Action

Read time: 3 mins
George Eustice

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed a pro-Brexit former farming minister described as a “real countryman” with a patchy voting record on climate action as new Environment Secretary. 

Cornish MP George Eustice has been given the role after working as a junior minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) since 2015. So, unlike some ministers taking up new roles today, he will already be well acquainted with the issues and debates associated with the brief. He replaces Theresa Villiers, who was removed during the morning’s ministerial cull.

UK Accused of Hypocrisy Over Pledge to Extract Africa's Oil

Read time: 4 mins
UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020

By Chloe Farand, Climate Home News

The UK will formally end all direct support for coal mining and power plants abroad but still help African countries “extract and use” oil and gas, prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday.

Johnson made the remarks at the opening of the UK-Africa investment summit in London – a one-day event which signalled the UK’s intent to compete for African business with China, Russia, Germany and France – all of which have strengthened their investment strategy on the continent.

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