Election 2015

Climate change ignored by politicians, say experts

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A leading environmentalist has criticised the lack of attention given to climate change during the general election campaign.

James Lovelock told Radio 4's Today programme he was "shocked" at the lack of coverage so far.

His views were echoed by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, who said there had been a "total lack" of vision on the issue.

Prof Hoskins said tackling climate change would be "key" to ensuring prosperity in the future.

Mr Lovelock, the creator of Gaia theory, told Today: "I'm shocked because it is a key thing that they should be talking about. In a way we are fiddling while Rome burns and we certainly could be looking at a lot of suffering and a lot of unpleasantness."

He said former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as a scientist, was the one politician who "fully understood the issue".

"She understood very well and got us thinking the right way", he said. "But there has been no politician since that has been able to do that."

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Image caption James Lovelock said Margaret Thatcher understood the issue like no other leader

Prof Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said politicians had failed to adopt a long-term approach.

He told Today: "It seems that when we get to the discussions it all goes down to the lowest level of what's going to make someone happy for next five minutes and the politicians seem to think that's going to buy their votes."

The main political parties have failed to set out distinct visions on the issue, he added.

"I can't say that I can see any big difference in the statements they have been making just recently," he said.

"This is an incredibly important year for the world, setting the framework for where the world is going in the next 30 years. And yet we don't hear that."