POLITICS
01/10/2013 20:50 BST | Updated 01/10/2013 20:52 BST

Zac Goldsmith Questions 'Odd' Views Of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has said it is "odd" that David Cameron appointed a climate change sceptic to serve as environment secretary.

Goldsmith, a key environmental campaigner, told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference hosted by The Huffington Post UK: "I don't understand the resistance that some people in my party have to climate change."

Asked about comments made by Owen Paterson at the conference that there may be advantages to climate change, Goldsmith joked: "It's a huge step forward as far as I knew he didn't think warming was happening, this is remarkable progress."

"I find it very odd," he said. "I would prefer, we stand a much better chance of dealing with these issues with someone in that post who understands and accepts our responsibility for climate change, of course."

Goldsmith insisted that there was a "right-wing approach to dealing with these problems" and Conservative colleagues should not dismiss environmentalism as a left-wing issue or a problem with only left-wing solutions.

And he said he was confident the coalition could still deliver on being the "greenest government ever" despite "the really stupid comment of some members of government over the past five years".

Asked whether he missed Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem former energy secretary whose views chime more with his own, he joked: "On a personal level I'm not sure that many people would miss Chris Huhne. But he was a powerful voice on this issue for sure."

On Monday, Paterson told a fringe meeting at the conference: "People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.

"I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees.

"Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.

"I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting."