Humans may not be responsible for global warming, according to Tim Yeo, the MP who oversees government policy on climate change.
The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame.
Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.
Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously.
He insisted such action is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.
Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.
He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”