Prince Charles warns climate change deniers will “test our world to destruction”

The Prince of Wales has warned climate change deniers they will “test our world to destruction” unless action is taken to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Charles said the evidence of changes to the global climate is now inescapable and the situation “so serious that we cannot look away or stick our heads into the sand”.

Shrinking ice caps, the migrant crisis and conflicts are just some of the disasters being fuelled by man-made climate change, he said.

The passionate campaigner issued the appeal as environmentalists raised concerns over the United States’ commitment to cutting emissions under Donald Trump’s administration.

The new president, who once said climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese to undermine the American economy, is expected to swiftly rewrite US energy policy and undo regulations including restrictions on oil drilling and coal mining.

In contrast Charles praised China, home to some of the most polluted cities in the world, for providing “strong leadership” in showing how quickly technology can be adopted to tackle the problem.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Charles said the world can no longer afford to dispute the hard facts or treat climate change as a “matter of opinion”.

“We can take the scientific evidence and act accordingly, or we can find ways to remain unconvinced that robust and immediate action is necessary,” he wrote.

“The problem with the latter choice is that we will continue to test our world to destruction until we finally have the ‘evidence’ to show that its viability and habitability have been destroyed.

“And by the time we come to our senses, it is likely be too late to do anything about it.”

A 20-fold increase in the use of energy since the industrial revolution has led to a dramatic rise in carbon emissions that are causing “alarming” changes in the natural world, Charles said.

Evidence from satellites and other observations demonstrates the retreat of glaciers around the world, diminishing water supplies in South Asia, the demise of sea ice in the Arctic and the death of coral reefs, the Prince explained.

Charles also cited the “numerous” records that are being broken by extreme weather around the world, describing flooding in particular as “one of the most terrible events”.

“It is leading to a decline in some wildlife species, threatens food and water supplies and can be a contributing factor for the migration of people.

“These effects can in turn exacerbate political tensions and help fuel conflict,” he wrote.

The Prince dismissed suggestions by some scientists that there has been a “pause” in global warming, referring instead to data that showed 2016, 2015 and 2014, were the warmest on record.

He also rejected the criticism made by some sceptics that environmental regulations stifle development and employment, noting: “Acting now is far cheaper than picking up the pieces later.”

Charles has co-authored a peer-reviewed Ladybird Expert book on the issue with a leading environmentalist and a climate scientist.

His proposals for taking on climate change range in scale from featuring global warming on weather forecasts to overhauling the economy.

Theresa May ‘first world leader to meet with Donald Trump,’ White House confirms

Theresa May will be the first foreign leader to visit Donald Trump when she travels to the United States next week, the White House has confirmed.

The visit represents a coup for the Prime Minister after an uncertain start to relations with the president following his shock election in November.

The trip will follow a weekend in which hundreds of thousands of people in the US, UK and around the world joined women’s marches to protest against the controversial tycoon’s presidency.

It was unclear whether Mrs May would be meeting Mr Trump on Thursday or Friday after White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a news conference in the West Wing: “The president will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington on Friday.”

 

Mrs May has promised to be “very frank” during talks, making clear she has found some of the president’s comments “unacceptable”, including his suggestion that his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women, such as “grabbing them by the pussy”.

And she has distanced herself from suggestions the pair could rekindle the Reagan-Thatcher bond of the 1980s, saying she does not want to emulate models from the past.

Theresa May is “confident” of striking a trade agreement with Mr Trump despite his “America first” strategy sparking concerns in the UK about his willingness to to a deal.

But Mrs May has suggested the UK and US could reduce barriers to trade before being able to sign a formal agreement after Brexit, with a new passporting system to govern transatlantic bank trade reportedly being considered.

Mrs May is likely to emphasise the importance of Nato and the EU for collective security and defence after Mr Trump again worried some observers about his commitment to both organisations.

The Telegraph reported that the pair could agree a statement emphasising their commitment to spending at least 2% of GDP on defence and urging other Nato countries to do so, as well as promising action against Islamic State terrorists.

It is likely that Mrs May’s trip to the US will be followed by a state visit by Mr Trump to Britain, which would include an audience with the Queen and the pomp and pageantry of which the president seems so fond.

Labour MP Tristram Hunt quits to direct Victoria and Albert Museum

Labour MP Tristram Hunt is quitting as an MP to become the director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, triggering a by-election.

Mr Hunt, a critic of Jeremy Corbyn, said he did not want to “rock the boat” but had the chance “to have one of the greatest museum jobs in the world”.

His Stoke-on-Trent Central seat is set to be abolished under boundary changes.

Mr Hunt told local party members he had been frustrated about how Labour should respond to political shockwaves.

In a letter to them explaining his decision, he said being an MP had been “both deeply rewarding and intensely frustrating”.

‘Plain wrong’

Highlighting the “harrowing effects of poverty and inequality upon social mobility”, he said:

“The frustration, of course, came with the inability to address those factors and implement our policy programme following our defeat in 2015 – and, more broadly, about how the Labour Party should respond to the social, cultural and economic forces which have rocked mainstream social democratic and socialist parties from India to Greece to America.”

He added: “I am sorry to put you, the party and the people of Stoke-on-Trent, through a by-election. I have no desire to rock the boat now and anyone who interprets my decision to leave in that way is just plain wrong.”

The former TV historian was elected to represent Stoke-on-Trent in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015 with a majority of 5,179. UKIP came second.

He refused to serve in the shadow cabinet following Mr Corbyn’s leadership victory in September 2015. He also argued that the Labour leader should have done more to persuade its voters to back the Remain campaign during last year’s EU referendum.

Khan: ‘Muddled Brexit’ will cost London heavily

A “muddled” Brexit would cost London heavily in terms of jobs and investment, Sadiq Khan has warned.

The Mayor of London accused the government of having no clear strategy just two months ahead of a deadline to formally trigger the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Mr Khan said a “muddled Brexit” would be as damaging as a “hard Brexit”.

The Department for Exiting the European Union has yet to respond to the mayor’s speech.

In his speech to business and political leaders on Thursday night Mr Khan said: “It’s deeply concerning that we still appear to have muddled thinking at the heart of government.

“The only thing that would be as damaging as a hard Brexit would be a muddled Brexit.

“And – unfortunately – it looks like that is where we are heading unless there’s a change in tact and direction from our government.”

The Mayor said a negative Brexit impact for London would hit the whole country.

“If the proper agreements aren’t negotiated and we don’t get the necessary transitional agreements in place, there’ll be serious knock-on impacts on our future – with jobs and billions of revenue lost,” he said.

“Revenues used to deliver public services and much, much more.

“This would hit the entire country, not just London.”

Downing Street has previously said the prime minister will give a speech next week “setting out more” on the government’s Brexit plans.

Theresa May’s official spokeswoman said: “She will be making a speech on Tuesday, setting out more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations and in line with our approach for global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation.”

Trump turns down CNN, accuses org of “fake news”

In a combative and freewheeling news conference, President-elect Donald Trump accepted that Russia was behind the election year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.

Looking ahead, he urged Congress to move quickly to replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and insisted anew that Mexico will pay the cost of a border wall.

The hour-long spectacle in the marbled lobby of Trump’s Manhattan skyscraper was his first news conference since winning the election in early November, and the famously unconventional politician demonstrated he had not been changed by the weight of his victory.

He defiantly denied reports that Russia had collected compromising personal and financial information about him, lambasting the media for peddling “fake news” and shouting down a journalist from CNN, which reported on the matter. His family and advisers clapped and cheered him on throughout.

Trump’s transition has been shadowed by U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia not only meddled in the election, but did so to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. After spending weeks challenging that idea, Trump finally accepted at least part of the intelligence conclusions.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said, quickly adding that “other countries and other people” also hack U.S. interests. Still, he kept needling the intelligence agencies, saying it would be a “tremendous blot” on their record if officials were leaking information from his classified briefings.

One U.S. official told The Associated Press Tuesday night that intelligence people had informed Trump last week about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him. Some media outlets reported on the document, which contains unproven information alleging close coordination between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, as well as unverified claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump. The AP has not authenticated any of the claims.

Wednesday’s news conference was initially billed as a chance for Trump to answer questions about his plans for distancing himself from his sprawling, family-owned real estate and licensing business. Lawyer Sheri Dillon stepped to the lectern midway through the event to announce that the president-elect was relinquishing control of the Trump Organization to his adult sons and an executive, as well as putting his business assets in a trust. While new international business deals will be banned, the company will be allowed to start new projects in the U.S.

The move appears to contradict a previous pledge by the president-elect. In a tweet last month, Trump said that “no new deals” would be done while he was in office.

With dramatic flair, Trump aides piled stacks of manila folders on a table next to the lectern – in front of 10 American flags – before the news conference began. Trump said the folders contained documents he had signed formalizing the new business arrangements, though journalists were not able to view and independently verify the materials.

Some 250 journalists crammed into the Trump Tower lobby for the news conference, which was not only Trump’s first since the election, but his first since July. Journalists shouted for his attention. At times, he skipped past questions he appeared to not want to answer, including an inquiry about whether he would keep in place sanctions Obama slapped on Russia in retaliation for the election-related hacking.

Until Wednesday, Trump had spent most of his two months as president-elect doling out policy pronouncements, attacks on critics and boasts about his victory in 140-character increments on Twitter. His preferred mode of communication has left some of his positions vague – an approach that is often by Trump’s design.

The president-elect set some concrete policy markers Wednesday, though specifics continued to be in short supply on some of his major campaign promises.

He promised that a replacement for Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul would be offered “essentially simultaneously” with a congressional vote to repeal the measure. The complexity of the policy changes makes quick passage of a new health care law virtually impossible, and Trump is yet to detail what he wants included. He said his team would send a plan to Congress after Rep. Tom Price, his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is confirmed.

Turning to his plans to build a wall along the nation’s southern border, Trump vowed that Mexico would “reimburse” the cost of the project through an unspecified tax or payment. He said that while his administration would begin negotiating with Mexico after his Jan. 20 inauguration, he did not want to delay the work until an agreement was reached, raising the prospect that U.S. taxpayers could ultimately bear the costs.

“I want to get the wall started,” he said. “Mexico will pay for the wall, but it will be reimbursed.”

Following Trump’s remarks, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said his country “of course will not pay” for a border wall.

Trump also moved to complete his Cabinet picks, announcing his intention to nominate David Shulkin to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, elevating him from his current role as VA undersecretary. He suggested that Shulkin may work with major private hospitals to help address issues that have plagued veterans’ health care.

Trump said he would move quickly to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He said he had been interviewing candidates and seeking input from conservative groups and planned to name someone about two weeks after the inauguration.