Fuel crisis is good lesson on need to abandon fossil fuels, says minister

Lord Goldsmith said it shows the switch to electric vehicles should be accelerated.

Fuel station queue
Fuel station queue

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a “good lesson” in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end.

In an interview with The Independent, Lord Goldsmith said queues at petrol stations amid current shortages should serve as a reminder of the need to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.

He also dismissed fears the current difficulties could make it harder to achieve political and public backing for an agreement to tackle the climate emergency at the forthcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Lord Goldsmith conceded the petrol shortages represented “a crisis” with serious implications for many businesses and people.

But he added: “I don’t think it damages the momentum we’re seeing in relation to climate. It’s a pretty good lesson on the need to unhook ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels. You’re not seeing the same problems with people who have electric vehicles.”

Lord Goldsmith also condemned sceptics, including within his own Conservative Party, who were organising a “fightback” against the push for net-zero carbon emissions ahead of Cop26.

The Independent said former ministers Steve Baker and Esther McVey were among a group of rebel Tory MPs, led by Craig Mackinlay, who were mobilising against the costly measures, while ex-chancellor Nigel Lawson had called them “implausible”.

Fuel pumps closed
Some fuel stations have completely run dry amid panic-buying by drivers (PA)

“There are people in society, there are people in the Conservative Party, people in politics, who are sceptical, and who are not supportive of government efforts to secure this transition,” he said.

“I think they’re very much in the minority and I think the science is proving them wrong. Extraordinary events, day to day, are proving them wrong.

Lord Goldsmith also defended Boris Johnson for his commitments on the climate emergency.

He said the Prime Minister, who has admitted to a conversion from climate scepticism, spoke with “authority... and real passion” on the issue, and that progress in this area had been achieved “because of his intervention”.

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