Man-made climate change is one of the greatest threats to the UK and the rest of the world, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister risked a backlash from climate-sceptic Conservative ministers and MPs by insisting that humans are responsible for climate change.
His comments appeared to create an immediate division in his own Cabinet, with Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, refusing to fully back Mr Cameron’s claim.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of being “desperate to get off the subject” of climate change.
Following doubts expressed by a number of Cabinet ministers, including Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, about climate, Mr Cameron insisted that his Government is committed to environmental issues.
“I believe man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats this country and this world faces – that is why we have the world’s first green investment bank here in Britain. That is why, unlike 13 wasted years of Labour, we are building the first nuclear power station for 30 years.
“That is why we have cut carbon emissions emitted by the Government 14% since we came to office. That is why we have set out year after year carbon budgets in this country.”
Mr Miliband accused ministers close to the Prime Minister of denying the existence of man-made climate change.
“I agree with what you said about the importance of climate change,” he said.
“But the reason this matters is because there are people in the most important positions in your Government going around questioning climate change. This is what the Environment Secretary [Owen Paterson] says, ‘people get very emotional about this. People should just accept the climate has been changing for centuries’, and he refuses to be briefed on climate change.
“The energy minister [Michael Fallon], when asked about climate change, said ‘You’re not going to draw me on that – I haven’t had time to get into the climate change debate’. He ‘s the energy minister.
“So, will you now clarify: are you happy to have climate change deniers in your Government?”
Mr Cameron refused to answer that question and said: “This Government has a solid track record of cutting carbon, of negotiating internationally, of investing in nuclear, the biggest renewable energy programme we have seen in our country’s history.”
Just minutes after Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Grayling was asked about the climate change comments on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.
Mr Grayling was repeatedly asked whether he agrees that man-made climate change is one of the “greatest threats” to the country.
However, he would only say that he does believe that climate change “is an issue”.