Liam Fox has been accused of “staggering” ignorance after he appeared to suggest it was legitimate to question the scientific consensus around climate change.
Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, the international trade secretary said it was “important that we take climate issues seriously”.
But he added: “Whether or not individuals accept the current scientific consensus on the causes of climate change, it is sensible for everyone to use finite resources in a responsible way.”
Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, said the comment was “not acceptable behaviour from a cabinet minister”.
“The science is clear. It is shameful that in the week when a sixteen year old school child has educated MPs with such clarity about the climate emergency we face, we have a cabinet minister showing confusion and ignorance on such a staggering scale,” he said.
Wera Hobhouse, the Lib Dem climate change spokesperson, said it showed the Tories were “apologists for climate change denial”.
Clarifying his remarks, Fox said on Twitter he had “always taken environmental issues extremely seriously”.
“The state of our planet should concern us all. There is a clear scientific consensus on climate change, which I fully respect. Even those who don’t accept it should want to see our finite resources carefully managed,” he said.
The row came after climate change activists targeted London’s financial districts to highlight what they call the business world’s “role in our collective suicide” on the 10th and final day of disruptive protests.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators temporarily blockaded the London Stock Exchange by gluing themselves across entrances to the trading hub in the City of London early this morning.
Some 1,130 people have been arrested during the protests which started on April 15, while more than 10,000 police officers have been deployed. The Metropolitan Police said 69 people have been charged.