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As Greece burns, we see the existential climate crisis dragged into shoddy UK party

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One news story defines this summer: the fact that average global temperatures have recently reached record-breaking levels. Baking European weather is now seared into our consciousness in the form of those heat maps coloured red and orange; as wildfires spread across the Greek island of Rhodes, thousands of people have been evacuated. In the US, China and no end of countries besides, the idea of planetary heating as a looming threat whose worst effects might yet be averted feels like it is turning to ash.

In the UK, unfortunately, the past 48 hours has seen a political story whose parochialist absurdity is off the scale: Conservative voices undermining the fragile cross-party consensus on reaching net zero by 2050 and calling for many of the UK’s tilts at climate action to be either slowed or stopped. The reason? The results of three parliamentary byelections – and, in particular, the views of 13,965 Conservative voters in the outer London suburbs.

According to some Tories, Thursday’s defeats in North Yorkshire and Somerset highlight the public’s exasperation with Rishi…

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