The Government minister who presided over the Cop26 climate conference says “climate security has become synonymous with energy security” because of Russia’s “illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine”.
Cabinet Office minister Alok Sharma told the Society of Editors’ (SoE) “future of news” summit in London that “chronic threat of climate change” would be the “biggest story of the 21st century”.
Mr Sharma said the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis had rightly dominated recent press coverage, but it is “vital” that climate change still gets “the column inches and airtime it deserves”.
He said: “This year, climate is no longer in the spotlight. Cop26 is over.
“The headlines are understandably dominated by other immense and immediate challenges facing the world. Vladimir Putin’s illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine will define 2022.
“And, of course, governments must also address the global crisis in energy markets and increasing inflation and its attendant impacts.
“Actually, what is quite interesting is the current crisis also made clear to governments that homegrown, renewable and clean energy, the price of which cannot be manipulated from afar, are the best option of domestic energy security. Climate security has become synonymous with energy security.”
He added: “I believe that the chronic threat of climate change, and its expansive impact, will increasingly be the biggest story of the 21st century.
Mr Sharma was president of Cop26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow in November 2021.
It produced 2030 emissions reduction targets and pledges to phase down coal power and phase out fossil fuel subsidies, he said.
Mr Sharma added: “Our task now is to deliver and to achieve that – we need you to do what you do best and hold governments and businesses to account.”
– Also at the SOC Conference, Christina Lamb, chief foreign correspondent at the Sunday Times, was honoured with an outstanding contribution prize.
The society said Lamb “brought the brutal reality of war home to all her readers” in her reports from Ukraine.