Climate change is a deeply pressing issue.

Despite the record-high temperatures of 40°C in 2022 and the wettest 18 months on record recently, the upcoming general election in the UK might profoundly challenge the political consensus on how to address this crisis.

Reform UK, a rightwing party known for its “commonsense” stance on immigration and energy, stands apart with its climate scepticism.

Richard Tice, leader of Reform, suggests that achieving net zero emissions will not affect climate change, proposing adaptation to global heating instead.

Contrary to Tice’s assertion, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses the critical importance of reaching net zero to counteract climate change effectively.

Emission reductions are essential in keeping the rise in sea levels manageable over time. Continuing to increase emissions significantly exacerbates this issue.

Adaptation, while important, cannot solely address the crisis.

The IPCC highlights a shrinking window to secure a sustainable future by reducing emissions urgently. Some individuals and communities might find it impossible to adapt if this opportunity is missed.

It’s not the sun or volcanic activity driving climate change but human actions.

The IPCC unequivocally attributes recent warming to human activities, accounting for 100% of the observed changes. The report’s authors clearly state that the warming of our planet is a direct consequence of human emissions.

Tice’s interview last Friday on BBC Breakfast included several misleading statements.

He mentioned that net zero would make no difference in sea level rise for 200 to 1,000 years, misrepresenting the IPCC’s findings. In reality, achieving net zero is pivotal in managing long-term impacts.

Reform UK’s manifesto is riddled with false or misleading claims about climate change and strategies to mitigate its effects.

The manifesto criticizes the UK’s net zero targets, echoing common climate denial rhetoric: climate change isn’t real, humans aren’t responsible, it’s not a severe issue, it’s unfixable, or it’s too late to act.

The manifesto’s assertion that climate change has naturally occurred for millions of years sidesteps the unparalleled speed and intensity of current changes, which the IPCC regards as unprecedented.

While CO2 is essential for photosynthesis, its concentration in the atmosphere, despite being 0.04%, significantly drives current global heating.

Reform’s comparison to greenhouse CO2 levels is irrelevant in the context of atmospheric impact.

The manifesto evokes historical climate patterns like the warmer climate during Roman Britain. Such regional temperature shifts differ from the extensive, unprecedented global heating today.

Regarding energy bills, climate action isn’t the primary culprit for increased costs.

The UK’s dependence on gas contributes more substantially to high energy prices. Furthermore, the claim that net zero targets are inflating prices is inaccurate, as fossil fuel price spikes and climate-induced disruptions in food supply are major inflation drivers.

Reform UK posits that achieving net zero might cost around £2 trillion, quoting National Grid figures.

However, they omit that these costs align with scenarios where the UK fails to meet its targets, suggesting that the financial burden of achieving net zero isn’t disproportionately high.

Reform UK’s alternative vision includes fracking for shale gas and expedited approvals for North Sea oil and gas drilling.

They also advocate for new nuclear power. However, their manifesto ends with a contradictory list of technologies, some of which might reduce emissions but others, like “clean coal mining,” are dubious at best.

The political consensus on climate change may face significant disruption in the UK if Reform UK’s views gain traction, leading to potential setbacks in the country’s climate ambitions.