Theresa May 'Must Pressure Donald Trump On Climate Change' During State Visit, Top Ex-Diplomat Says

Lord Ricketts urges the prime minister to call on the US president to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

Theresa May must pile pressure on Donald Trump to take action on climate change when he visits Britain next month, a top ex-diplomat has said.

Lord Ricketts, once the most senior Foreign Office civil servant, told HuffPost’s Commons People podcast that the prime minister must use the US president’s state visit to urge him to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump caused global outrage by pulling America out of the landmark global deal to try and limit global warming to 1.5C.

The controversial figure has also repeatedly denied climate change is real, questioning the global scientific consensus that human activities are causing global warming.

His visit to the UK is likely to spark widespread protests and climate change activists have already warned there could be an even bigger repeat of the recent Extinction Rebellion civil disobedience that pushed the issue way up the political agenda in Westminster.

Lord Ricketts, who was Britain’s ambassador to France when the 2016 Paris deal was signed, said: “In Paris there was a real feeling of momentum... and Obama and Xi Jinping and all the world leaders were pushing and we got an agreement which is not legally binding but which has got some pretty powerful political goals in it.

“Since then honestly the heat has gone out of the subject, it’s dropped out of the headlines, other things like Brexit have come along.

“And in a way it’s taken (16 year-old activist) Greta Thunberg and people glueing themselves to Waterloo bridge to put it back on the British political agenda.”

He went on: “One of the big change factors in the last two years has been Trump.

“Funnily enough carbon reductions are going on in the US without the federal government.

“The states around the US, big business around the US, some of the big cities, are all for reducing carbon emissions, so in a way the federal government isn’t making the weather, if I can put it like that, in the US.

“Nonetheless I think his visit to the UK is a good opportunity to put some pressure on him over this, among many other things.”

May and Trump will hold bilateral talks during his state visit to the UK
May and Trump will hold bilateral talks during his state visit to the UK
PA Wire/PA Images

As a candidate, Trump described climate change as a “hoax”, although he later rowed back on the comments.

Since being elected president in 2016, he has pursued a fossil fuel-focused energy agenda.

And in November last year, he cast doubt on a report by his own government warning of the potentially devastating economic impact of climate change in the US, simply saying “I don’t believe it”.

In March he was criticised after quoting former Greenpeace Canada President Patrick Moore, now a lobbyist for the nuclear energy industry, who described climate change as “not only fake news” but also “fake science”.

As well as holding a bilateral meeting with May during the visit, Trump will be an official guest of the Queen.

On June 5, he and other representatives of the Second World War Allies – as well as Germany – are expected to attend a major international event in Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The gathering on Southsea Common will involve live performances, military displays and tributes to the Allied troops who fought in Normandy, including a flypast of 26 RAF aircraft and at least 11 Royal Navy vessels in the Solent.

Trump and his wife Melania will then travel to Normandy on June 6.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has been urged to allow Trump to address Parliament, after sparking controversy in 2017 by saying he should not be permitted to do so, and that it was “not an automatic right, it is an earned honour.”

May extended the offer of a state visit to Trump early in his presidency when she met the US leader for the first time in the White House in January 2017.

The state visit was expected that year but no date was set. The US leader’s 2018 trip to the UK was met by mass protest and had many of the trappings of a state visit, including a meeting with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Adding in the cost of policing the four-day visit last year, the UK was left with an overall bill in excess of £14.5million. The figure was so high in part because of the widespread protest against Trump, which included thousands of people marching in London and the launch of an unflattering blimp, which portrayed him as an orange, angry baby.

Trump will be hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the visit is likely to follow the traditional format of an official open-air welcome, featuring prestigious British regiments, lunch with Her Majesty and a state banquet.

Senior royals are expected to be among those 170 guests called upon to join the lavish dinner. Clarence House has confirmed the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be participating.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and Bercow have all turned down invitations to the dinner.

Trump is not expected to stay at the palace because of renovations being undertaken in the East Wing of the Queen’s London residence.

State visits normally last three days, and once the ceremonial elements with the Queen have been completed, visiting heads of state follow an itinerary that reflects their own interests and political aims.


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