Updated Jun 30, 2023, 11:07am EDT

3 takes: UK environment minister resigns saying Sunak is ‘uninterested’ in climate crisis

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain, June 28, 2023. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

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The U.K.’s international environment minister resigned Friday, saying that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is “uninterested” in solving the climate crisis and claiming that the U.K. has lost its ability to be a leader on environmental issues.

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Sunak has rebuked the former minister’s claims, and said that Goldsmith resigned rather than apologize for remarks he made criticizing the privileges committee over the so-called partygate inquiry.

In a letter responding to Goldsmith’s resignation, Sunak wrote that the minister was asked to apologize for his remarks, but “decided to take a different course.”

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  • In his own words: “The UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature,” Goldsmith wrote in his resignation letter. “Having been able to get so much done previously, I have struggled even to hold the line in recent months. The problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our Prime Minister, are simply uninterested.”
  • Goldsmith isn’t the only one who thinks the U.K. has fallen behind on its climate priorities — the U.K.’s own Climate Change Committee agrees. In a report published two days ago, the committee said that Sunak has “backtracked” on climate promises following the government’s approval of a new coal plant and its support for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. The country has “lost its clear global leadership position,” the report found. — Politico
  • Environment reporter Helena Horton also agreed with Goldsmith: You wouldn’t be able to argue that Sunak is a climate denier, she notes, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t really care about green issues. “Unless Sunak has a swift and significant change of heart, he is likely to be remembered for allowing the UK to lose its role at the forefront of the climate fight.” — The Guardian
  • Goldsmith’s exit is “smartly cynical,” Financial Times associate editor Stephen Bush tweeted. For one, his claims are “palpably and obviously true,” and as the international environment minister, Goldsmith has “serious credibility” on the topic.