The cabinet minister who headed the landmark UN last year climate change The Glasgow summit has hinted that he could resign unless the next prime minister fully commits to the net zero agenda.
Cop26 leaders in Glasgow agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5C – and Britain has committed to becoming net zero by 2050.
Climate experts are warning of increasingly frequent extreme weather events like those seen across Europe and the UK, stressing that the effects of climate change are not coming, they are already there.
In conversation with The ObserverMr Sharma urged the new prime minister to “proactively” state his support for the net zero agenda and “green” growth.
The Cop 26 president said: “I hope every candidate realizes why this is so important to voters in general and why it is important to Conservative supporters.”
This fire in Gironde, France, prompted the evacuation of more than 12,000 local residents this week for their safety
Mr Sharma said the new Conservative PM needed to follow in Johnson’s footsteps and understand the seriousness of global warming
The forest fires in the Gironde destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of land from which people were fleeing
“Anyone who aspires to lead our country must show that they take this issue incredibly seriously, that they are willing to continue to lead and take on the mantle that Boris Johnson began,” he said.
Asked if he could step down if the candidates were weak at net zero, Mr Sharma said: ‘Let’s see, shall we? I think we need to see where the candidates are. And we’ll have to see who actually finishes in 10th place.
“I hope each candidate will see why this matters so much to voters in general and why it matters to Conservative supporters. And I hope that we will see, especially with the last two, a very clear statement that this is an agenda that they support.’
Pressed a second time, he added: “I’m not ruling anything out and I’m not ruling anything out.”
Of the five remaining candidates in the contest, only Kemi Badenoch has said she does not support Britain’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050, calling it “unilateral economic disarmament”.
The others have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for the policy, which is unpopular with some sections of the party amid concerns about the impact on the economy.
An orphaned mountain lion cub that was badly burned in a recent wildfire in northern California is being cared for at an animal shelter
A turtle that was hiding underground to escape the fire is discovered after volunteers rescued it in Marmaris district of Mugla, Turkey
The UK is bracing for several days of record-breaking heat in the coming week, with temperatures potentially reaching 40C in England.
In an online video that went viral, a Met Office weather forecaster predicted what Britain’s summers would be like in 2050 if climate change continued at its current rate – but shockingly, the next few days have a strikingly similar prediction.
BBC weather presenter Matt Taylor took to Twitter this week to urge people to recognize rising global temperatures.
He said 40C for the UK was “not normal” with heat records becoming more common, adding: “I never thought this would be possible so soon.”
Meanwhile, in April this year, the UN released a bombshell report showing the terrifying reality of climate change.
The world is on track to more than double the 1.5 degree target this century and the world must act “now or never”.
Climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University has explained why the 1.5 degree limit is so important.
“At 1.5°C, there’s a good chance we can save most of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets from collapsing,” he said.
However, if you hit 2°C, those ice sheets will collapse.
A firefighter fights a forest fire near the village of Eiriz in Baiao, northern Portugal, July 15, 2020
Trees, plants and animals have been burned and charred from the fires that are sweeping across Europe
Britain’s fire services have warned people to be extremely careful in the heat, making sure cigarettes are properly extinguished and not using barbecues
And there are severe consequences for coral reefs too – 1.5°C warming will destroy about 70 percent of the world’s reefs – rising to 99 percent at 2°C.
And if the current course continues, by 2050 a third of all animal and plant species on the planet will become extinct.
Temperatures have risen across much of Europe this week and wildfires have raged across much of the continent.
In one region in France alone, more than 12,000 people had to be evacuated because the fires were raging.
Spain, Turkey, Croatia and Portugal have also seen huge blazes – it took 3,000 firefighters this week to battle the blazes in Portugal, with dozens of people injured in the blaze.
And wildfires have destroyed 3,500 acres of land in Extremadura, Spain.
It is not known how many animals were killed or injured in these fires, but many are expected to have died due to the increasingly unforgiving weather conditions.
Wildfires are also a problem worldwide, especially in the US in hot states like California.
The UK government has held Cobra meetings over upcoming boiling temperatures as the NHS is expected to struggle with demand.
The Met Office has issued its first extreme heat red weather alert, meaning life is at risk for the entire population, not just those more vulnerable to the heat.
On Friday, Secretary of State Liz Truss said she would impose a temporary moratorium on the environmental tax on domestic energy bills, arguing there are better ways to reach the net-zero goal.
The debate came as fires raged across the world, and some of the worst fires were in Portugal, where a fire-fighting plane pilot died on Friday when his plane crashed during a sortie in the north-east.
It was the first fire death in Portugal this year, but the blaze this week has injured more than 160 people and forced hundreds to evacuate.
Fire season has hit parts of Europe earlier than usual this year after an unusually dry hot spring left the ground parched, which authorities blame on climate change.
As France’s worst fire drew closer to populated cities, some of the 11,000 people evacuated in the region described fear and uncertainty about what they would find when they returned.
Images shared by firefighters showed flames shooting across a mass of pine trees and black smoke stretching over the horizon.
Firefighters on Saturday focused on using fire trucks to surround vulnerable villages and save as many homes as possible, Charles Lafourcade, who oversees the French fire service, told reporters.
About 3,000 firefighters, assisted by water-drain planes, are battling the blazes in southern France, the president said, and Greece sent fire-fighting equipment to help.