10/09/2014 10:43 BST | Updated 10/09/2014 14:59 BST

Tory Views On Climate Change Are A 'Huge Embarrassment' For David Cameron

Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron visits engineering business MacTaggart Scott in Edinburgh as Mr Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond hit the Scottish independence referendum campaign trail.

In a "huge embarrassment" for the Prime Minister, the vast majority of Tory MPs don't think manmade climate change is a real issue, a shocking new poll has revealed.

Despite a United Nations-led panel of scientists last year saying they were 95% certain that recent global warming is manmade, nearly three-quarters of Conservative MPs - more than twice as many as Labour MPs - do not believe climate change has been proven to be caused by human activity, according to a report by PR Week.

Awkwardly for David Cameron, the results of the poll came as he prepares to join more than 100 world leaders at a major climate change summit in New York later this month where he will reiterate his view that climate change is one of the most serious threats faced by the UK.

Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven described the findings as a "huge embarrassment" for the prime minister.

"There's virtually no scientific argument left about whether manmade climate change exists, yet two-thirds of Tory MPs are ready to ignore the science in the name of ideology," he told the magazine.

"There's no reason for the laws of physics to stop at the right of centre of British politics. Climate change is real and is happening – we’re all going to pay a price for our politicians' failure to take it seriously."

The PM has previously emphasised that "scientists are giving us a very certain message," and that steps must be taken to counteract the growing concerns over climate change.

But the Populus poll of 119 MPs showed that only 51% of MPs overall agree that it is an established fact that global warming is largely man made.

The PR week report highlights that there is a vast differing of opinion between parties. While 73% of Labour MPs agree that man-made global warming is fact, only 30% of Tory MPs think the issue is established science.

Incredibly, 53% of Tory MPs asked in the poll agreed with the statement that "it has not yet been conclusively proved that climate change is man made", a further 18% agree that "man-made climate change is environmentalist propaganda".

But Tory MP Amber Rudd, who was appointed energy minister in Cameron’s July reshuffle, defended the party’s stance on climate change science, telling the magazine that man-made climate change is "one of the most serious threats that we face."

"It’s we Conservatives who are not merely friends of the Earth — we are its guardians and trustees for generations to come," she said.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its groundbreaking report on climate change last year with the conclusion showing that there is no doubt about the reality of climate change; it is caused by human action.

At the time, the UN's Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that he wanted to see the report be a catalyst for a UN sponsored summit resulting in a global climate agreement by late 2015, with implementation by 2020.

Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said the report, the most comprehensive to date, said it showed that "now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse" for inaction to tackle the threat.

The wide-ranging report says climate change is now affecting

  • Affecting global poverty
  • Changing coastlines
  • Destroying, and rarely benefiting, food systems
  • Causing animal extinctions
  • Fuelling riots over food prices
  • Damaging worldwide security
  • Destroying homes, even in England and Wales
  • Causing wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornados and droughts

In seven years after the first report from the UN, climate change is no longer a looming threat to future generations, the panel of experts said. It is a reality for human beings in 2014.

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