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Revealed: Truss’s new economic adviser said climate change might ‘balance out’

Environmentalists have expressed concern over comments in Matthew Sinclair’s 2011 book Let Them Eat Carbon

Anita Mureithi
8 September 2022, 4.49pm

Liz Truss delivers her first speech as the British Prime Minister outside 10 Downing Street

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Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

Environmental campaigners have expressed concern over “deeply disturbing” views on the climate crisis expressed by Liz Truss’s new chief economic adviser.

Referring to the long-term effects of higher temperatures and increasing levels of greenhouse gases, Matthew Sinclair wrote in his 2011 book ‘Let Them Eat Carbon’ that: “Equatorial regions might suffer, but it is entirely possible that this will be balanced out by areas like Greenland, which might become green again, and Siberia, where people will be better able to exploit its huge natural resources.”

Tommy Vickerstaff, UK team lead at campaign group 350.org, told openDemocracy: “It’s deeply disturbing that Sinclair could speak so callously about the suffering being felt by millions of people around the world, and that he now holds such a powerful position in government at a time when making our economies fairer and more sustainable should be a top priority.

“We have to hope that he’s been paying attention in the years since he wrote those words. The climate is changing even faster than scientists were predicting ten years ago, and the impacts are even more severe.”

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Sinclair, who was a director and economics adviser at Deloitte before joining Number 10, is a former chief executive of right-wing think tank the TaxPayers’ Alliance. As part of a plan to cut £7bn from public spending, he wanted to scrap the Green Investment Bank, freeze the international aid budget and abolish the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In the past, he has also spoken out against green taxes.

While Sinclair doesn’t deny the science behind climate change, his book suggests that climate change is just something that humans will have to adapt to.

Environmental campaigner and author Guy Shrubsole told openDemocracy Sinclair’s philosophy appeared to prioritise “free markets and innovation, regardless of impacts on the society or the environment”.

“His views seem to be that it’s more economical to simply adapt to climate change rather than cut emissions,” Shrubsole added.

In his book, Sinclair argues that a “realist” approach to climate policy would focus on adaptation and responding “to whatever the natural world throws” at us.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said of Sinclair’s comments: “Climate change will impact every country and region globally.

“No country will be able to isolate themselves or their economy from climate breakdown, which is why this issue must be central to every government’s agenda.

"As one of the wealthy countries most responsible for climate change, the UK also has a responsibility to support the communities that have done the least to cause the crisis but are being hardest hit by its impacts.”

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