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Monday, June 27, 2022

Christians in MP Steve Baker’s seat pray for him to quit role on climate thinktank | Climate crisis

Protesters gathered in High Wycombe on Friday to implore their MP, Steve Baker, to quit as a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a thinktank that has been accused of being one of the UK’s leading sources of climate scepticism.

Christians from the MP’s constituency prayed and sang Amazing Grace outside the constituency office, holding signs reading “Praying 4 Steve Baker”, “The Earth is what we all have in common”, “… And God created science”. Baker is an evangelical Christian.

Ruth Jarman, from Christian climate action group Operation Noah, led those assembled in prayer. She said: “I didn’t realise there was a connection between my faith and my environmentalism until I was in my 30s. I was walking down the street and suddenly remembered the first line of the Bible that states ‘in the beginning, God created the Earth.’

“We are knowingly trashing what God has made. That’s a hugely terrifying thought, really. I understand why some people have not made that connection, I’m here praying that Steve Baker makes that connection.”

The Steve Baker Watch vigil
The group said they hoped the MP would be voted out at the next election if he did not change his mind on net zero. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Those assembled, including local children and members of the local Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties, said they hoped the MP would be voted out at the next election if he did not change his mind on net zero. Baker currently has a majority of 4,000, which means his seat could be marginal.

The MP, who is a member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group and has called for the government to rethink its policy of decarbonising the economy using renewable energy, came out to join the gathered protesters in prayer and answer their questions.

He said he has no plans to leave the GWPF, which he joined at the behest of Lord Lawson, who has claimed that global heating is not a problem.

Baker told those gathered that though he believes meeting net zero is an admirable goal, “the way we deal with it has got to be politically and socially and economically viable”.

The Guardian recently reported that the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) of 19 Conservatives was accused of attempting to derail the government’s green agenda, linking it to the cost-of-living crisis and leading to fears of a “culture war” campaign around net zero.

The NZSG, which has gained widespread media coverage despite being small in number, says it does not dispute climate science or the need to decarbonise. It has called for cuts to green taxes and an increase in fossil fuel production to address the energy crisis.

Though he said he believes lowering emissions is important, Baker told the Guardian that he thinks the government’s policy on renewables will pass on unacceptable costs to constituents, and he hopes to change the mind of his colleagues – and that of the country.

“I think [reaching net zero] means nuclear. I think that means gas, with Allam cycle, probably, which means a closed cycle.” Allam cycle is a way to build gas plants, currently in test phase, that can theoretically capture 100% of the carbon it emits.

He added that we need to be “honest about the cost of renewables”. “I do think that there are mistakes being made about the cost of renewables. There are billions of pounds a year of subsidy going into renewables. And yet we’re saying that they’re cheap.” However, a comparison of subsidies since 2020 by Energy Policy Tracker found the UK had spent significantly more on fossil fuels than on renewable energy.

The campaign to change the government’s net zero policy will be “bigger than Brexit”, according to the MP – who chairs the influential European Research Group, credited for pushing the government towards a hard Brexit.

“I think this is going to be far bigger than Brexit,” Baker said.

“With Brexit it was always a minority issue on both sides. But the soaring cost of net zero and what it’s going to mean for people’s houses and for their cars and for their holidays, and for the way the economy functions … I mean, you don’t have to believe me, it was the chief scientist who said, we will have a transformation at all levels of society. And if we’re going to have a transformation at all levels of society, everyone’s going to notice.”

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