Tory council leader suggests people should not worry about climate, and can adapt to ‘barren, sandy landscapes’

A video of Plymouth’s new Conservative council leader Richard Bingley has emerged in which he appears to suggest people should not worry about the climate crisis and whether the world is still liveable or not in the next half century.

Speaking to former UKIP mayoral candidate Peter Whittle in June 2020, Councilor Bingley, who became Plymouth council leader last month, suggested in the video that people should adapt to “living in barren, sandy landscapes”.

The video, made by the YouTube channel of right wing think tank The New Culture Forum, has also been posted on the website of climate denial group Net Zero Watch.

Cllr Bingley’s recent election as leader of Plymouth City Council has seen the video re-emerge.

In the conversation, in which Cllr Bingley is also speaking to right wing columnist and climate science skeptic James Delingpole, he says: “I’m not really feeling that we should worry too much about climate change in itself.”

The video has raised concern about Cllr Bingley’s stance on climate and environment issues, not least since Plymouth City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and pledged to make the city carbon neutral by 2030.

Speaking about heightening concern about the climate crisis around the world, Mr Bingley said: “I don’t think there’ll be a trigger moment like there is with Covid or some apocalyptic thing like 9/11 and international terrorism. Whatever your view is ongreen [issues] we’ve kind of buried it and put it in the long grass. Things like terrorism, things like Covid will usurp it as an issue for the mainstream.

“Then probably, you get to 30 or 40 years time where the world may be liveable, or it may not be. For example some countries – Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have adjusted for many years to living in barren, sandy landscapes – they’ve drilled for oil, they’re some of the world’s major exporters.

“I’m not really feeling that we should worry too much about climate change in itself. I’m worried about the political approaches and the economic approaches.”

Later in the video, Cllr Bingley, describes himself as “a Londoner” – something which has not escaped the notice of The Plymouth Heraldparticularly as he was elected as a councilor for Plymouth’s Southway ward less than a year later.

He describes living in East London, near London Fields, and he said that since the Covid pandemic, rising numbers of cyclists meant while out walking “you almost end up losing your legs, or the dogs do”.

“It’s actually not very pleasant. There’s too much cycling going on, so that needs addressing.”

Cllr Bingley has regularly appeared in discussions for The New Culture Forum, often as the head of the Save Our Statues campaign group.

Cllr Bingley told The Independent: “In the program I clearly state that climate change is a fundamentally major issue. Since joining the council I have systematically talked in committee and at full council on the increased severe weather events and impacts of climate change. I have repeatedly supported and overseen cross-party work on our climate change and decarbonisation programmes. On becoming leader recently, I appointed Plymouth’s first dedicated cabinet member for overseeing our climate change agenda.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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