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Goldsmith resignation over Government’s climate record ‘damning’ says Christian Aid

30 June 2023


Lord Goldsmith walks outside the Cabinet Office in April

Lord Goldsmith walks outside the Cabinet Office in April

THE resignation of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park from the Government is a “damning” indictment of its “lethargic” approach to the climate crisis, Christian Aid’s chief of UK advocacy and policy, Sophie Powell, has said.

Lord Goldsmith resigned on Friday as Minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

He writes in a resignation letter to the Prime Minister that “the UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature. Too often we are simply absent from key international fora. . .

“Worse still, we have effectively abandoned one of the most widely reported and solemn promises we have made on this issue: our pledge to spend £11.6bn of our aid on climate and environment.”

The letter continues: “The problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our prime minister, are simply uninterested. That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis.

“I will never understand how, with all the knowledge we now have about our fundamental reliance on the natural world and the speed with which we are destroying it, anyone can be uninterested.”

Responding to the news, Ms Powell said: “The Government has come in for widespread criticism for its lethargic and damaging approach to the climate crisis, but for that criticism to now come from its own minister is especially damning.

“For one of their own to slam the Government for choosing not to keep its promise on climate finance is deeply worrying and threatens to undermine this December’s COP28 climate summit. Above all, it will also result in physical suffering by poor people living on the front line of climate change that need and deserve the financial support of historically polluting countries like the UK. That cannot be allowed to stand.”

In his reply to the resignation letter, however, Rishi Sunak draws attention to Lord Goldsmith’s being asked to apologise for his comments about the Commons Privileges Committee’s investigation of Boris Johnson, which found that Mr Johnson had lied to Parliament (Comment, 16 June). Lord Goldsmith was one of ten Conservative MPs whom the Privileges Committee accused on Thursday of seeking to undermine its work. “You have decided to take a different course,” Mr Sunak writes.

The Privileges Committee is not mentioned in Lord Goldsmith’s letter. On Friday, he told the BBC: “I am happy to apologise for publicly sharing my views on the Privileges Committee.”

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