Even the UN’s new climate chief has words to say about eco activists who are causing another year of chaos with their controversial public demonstrations.
Professor Jim Skea is the newly elected head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the climate-focused body of the UN.
The physicist, from Imperial College London, also said the world warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels is ‘not an existential threat to humanity’.
His comments come as Just Stop Oil protesters who invaded Lord’s pitch and threw orange powder into the air during the Ashes deny causing disruption in court.
Pictured, activists from the group Just Stop Oil block a road in London. The group works to ‘ensure the government commits to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production’
Jim Skea, a Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London, has been elected the new head of the UN’s climate expert panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Professor Skea, who was elected chair of the IPCC last week, was speaking to the German news agency DPA.
‘If you constantly communicate the message that we are all doomed to extinction, then that paralyses people and prevents them from taking the necessary steps to get a grip on climate change,’ he said.
In another interview with Der Spiegel, Professor Skea discussed the aims of the Paris Agreement, the famous climate pledge adopted in 2015.
The Paris Agreement hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6°F) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.
He said ‘we should not despair and fall into a state of shock’ if global temperatures were to increase by this amount.
‘The world won’t end if it warms by more than 1.5°C,’ he told Der Spiegel. ‘It will however be a more dangerous world.’
The academic thinks it is critical to offer ‘positive’ ways for humanity to address climate challenges and not just ‘messages of gloom that can induce a sense of existential dread about the future of the planet’.
A climate activist waves an Extinction Rebellion flag during a demonstration in Rotterdam, Netherlands, July 29, 2023
‘We need to make the point that human beings do have choices they can make, and agency over their own future,’ Skea told AFP earlier this week in Nairobi, where the elections for other IPCC leadership positions are also underway.
Skea, an IPCC veteran aged 69, said governments have many ways to cut planet-heating emissions at their disposal.
‘It’s as if someone is setting out to do a job – they have got the toolbox with them, now they need to get the tools out the box,’ he said.
Professor Skea is not the first prominent climate figure to reject the tactics of the notorious climate activist groups.
Veteran eco-warrior Swampy, who made his name during the 1990s with a series of environmental protests, said he ‘wouldn’t do it that way’ if he was protesting about the use of planet-heating fossil fuels.
Swampy, whose real name is Daniel Hooper, says that while the protesters who disrupt traffic or sporting events are ‘obviously brave and passionate’, he thinks real change will come from working with people from ‘different walks of life’.
‘The type of direct action that I would do would be to hold companies accountable for causing environmental damage,’ he said during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month.
A Just Stop Oil protester jumps on the table and throws orange powder during the world snooker championship in Sheffield
‘That particular action isn’t holding people accountable, but it’s got people talking about it.’
In recent months alone, Just Stop Oil activist groups have performed disruptive demonstrations at Wimbledon, the Ashes and the world snooker championship.
Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion recently blocked holes in a Spanish golf course with water to protest against the ‘elitist leisure pursuit’ during extreme drought this summer.
Earlier in the year Extinction Rebellion activists poured black paint that looked like crude oil out of plastic buckets marked ‘End Coal’ outside the Home Office.
Both Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion regularly stage protests by blocking the roads, causing frustration and delays for the general public.