Thatcher was a climate pioneer who was one of the first world leaders to voice concerns about climate change. The late Prime Minister’s support for climate science was in evidence in a speech she gave in 1990 at the second World Climate Conference, in Geneva. Not only did she believe that climate science was credible, she acknowledged that global warming was a serious threat and she urged the world to act.
In the 1990 speech she stressed the importance of climate science and supported the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as other organizations.
“The danger of global warning is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations,” she said. “Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community.”
Perhaps it was her education in chemistry at Oxford University that drove her to embrace climate science at a time when conservatives were either derisively denying it or at the very least saying the issue required further study. Thatcher went beyond supporting the veracity of the science and clearly wanted to see an international agreement on climate change.
“Our immediate task is to carry as many countries as possible with us, so that we can negotiate a successful framework convention on climate change in 1992,” she said. “To accomplish these tasks, we must not waste time and energy disputing the IPCC’s report or debating the right machinery for making progress.”
Despite her support, 20 years later the world has yet to find the formula for global emissions reductions. Although Thatcher did repudiate Al Gore in 2002, she nonetheless was a champion of action on climate change well before the issue was politicized.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.