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Climate change a ‘natural conservative issue’, former British PM says

Former UK prime minister David Cameron says climate change is a “natural conservative issue” that is best tackled by conservative political parties.

Key points:

  • David Cameron said climate change action was best handled by conservative parties
  • Mr Cameron said holding the Brexit referendum was inevitable and if he did not do it a future leader would have
  • He said he had sympathy for Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex wanting to escape the public eye

With Australia’s devastating bushfires in the global spotlight, he said action on climate change was more important than ever.

In an exclusive interview with 7.30, airing tonight, Mr Cameron said while world leaders may think they are doing enough, they need to “look at their promises and ask themselves, can we do more?”

Asked if he thought Australia was pulling its weight on emissions reductions, Mr Cameron would not be drawn.

“I’m not an expert on what’s happening in Australia, but the temperatures seem to be higher, the rainfall seems to be lower,” Mr Cameron said.

“I’m not a scientist and I always thought as prime minister my job was to listen to the scientists.

“It seemed when it came to climate change they were making two very powerful points. One is they seemed almost unanimous that these extreme weather events were connected to climate change.

“But the second thing the scientists were saying was that even if you’re in doubt about some of the elements, shouldn’t you attach a probability to all of these things happening?

“In which case, shouldn’t you insure against it by cutting your carbon emissions, trying to make your economies more resilient, getting international agreements on climate change?”

He urged conservative politicians not to leave climate change action to the left.

“To conservative parties, I would definitely appeal and say look, don’t leave the issues of climate and the future of the planet and what we leave to our children,” he said.

“These are natural conservative issues, don’t leave this to the left or you’ll get an anti-business, anti-enterprise, anti-technology response.

“We need business technology to be at the heart of what we do. And I think conservatives can lead on this.”

Mr Cameron said US President Donald Trump was letting the world down by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

“Look, the Paris climate agreement is not perfect, but it will be a lot less perfect with the US withdrawing and joining the tiny list of countries that aren’t signing up,” he said.

“Stay in and fight for a better agreement rather than walking away.

“Paris really did improve on its predecessors, because for the first time the big developing polluting economies like China were involved.”

Brexit referendum ‘was inevitable’

Mr Cameron said while he had some regrets about his six years in office, holding the referendum on Brexit was not one of them.

He said that while there were some things he could have done differently regarding the referendum, it “was really becoming inevitable”.

“The opinion polls were clear that people demanded one. If I had said no, not on my watch, not going to do it, I think a future leader would have had to have held that referendum,” Mr Cameron said.

He accepted there was a portion of the population that held him responsible for the political turmoil the country had been through since.

“There are some people, I accept, who voted remain who don’t want us to leave who are angry that this has happened, and some of them would always blame me for making that promise and for keeping that promise,” he said.

“Fifty-two per cent of people that voted to leave the EU — a lot of people are very pleased that a promise was made to have a referendum, and unlike previous promises, the promise was kept, and people are grateful that they had that choice.

“There were some people who voted to remain, as I did, who, although they’re disappointed with the result, recognise we are a democracy, and that’s a fair way to make a choice.”

He understands why Harry and Meghan want to escape

Mr Cameron said he had sympathy for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, for wanting to remove themselves from the public eye.

“I think anyone who’s been in the public eye and had to cope with some of the pressures that you get from the media, they’re going to all have some sympathy,” he said.

“When you’re in politics, and if you’re prime minister and you’re getting shot at from every angle, you do at least think well, you know, one day I won’t be prime minister and I’ll return to a more private life.

“I suppose in the Royal family you’re facing that potentially forever.”

Mr Cameron described Prince Harry as a “nice and a thoughtful young man” and said he wished the couple well.

“This is a discussion for the Royal family to have internally, but I’m sure they can make these arrangements work,” he said.

Watch the interview tonight on 7.30.

Topics: climate-change, government-and-politics, royal-and-imperial-matters, business-economics-and-finance, environmental-policy, environment, united-kingdom, australia

First posted January 29, 2020 06:15:38

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