MPs to get scientific briefing on climate after activist’s hunger strike

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, will address MPs about the climate crisis after a protester’s hunger strike campaign.

Angus Rose, 52, refused to eat for 37 days during his vigil outside parliament as he demanded the scientific adviser give a public address to MPs and ministers about the climate crisis.

He has now ended his hunger strike, 17kg lighter, after the all-party parliamentary group on climate change said it would host Vallance for an address on the issue, which would be sent to all MPs after the event.

A spokesperson for the group, which is led by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, told Rose they “will be happy to host a briefing on climate change for MPs and cabinet members, from the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance. This event would be held in the new parliamentary session, likely May-June … the briefing will also be recorded, sent to all MPs after the event and made publicly available.”

Vallance has agreed to do the briefing, representatives of Caroline Lucas told the Guardian, and a date for it will be set shortly.

Though Rose had originally asked for Vallance to do a televised briefing of cabinet rather than address a parliament committee, he said he was happy with the outcome.

During his hunger strike, a group of 79 leading scientists, including the former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, wrote a letter supporting his demand, saying “briefing on the climate and ecological crises would help our leaders to enact the right policies to decarbonise our society at the required pace, while also preserving biodiversity”.

Rose has been admitted to hospital as a precaution, but has begun eating again. He said he was feeling weak and dizzy on standing after such a long time without food.

Rose said: “Many parliamentarians seem unaware of the frightening implications of the climate crisis; though the information is available to them, there has been no system in place to ensure they engage and understand it. This is what has been so frustrating. My hope is that if MPs understand the science, they will act with the required urgency.”

On 28 January 2020, the prime minister was given a briefing led by Vallance on the science of the climate emergency. Johnson, who had disputed climate scientists’ claims in the past, later said it had been his “road to Damascus” moment on climate science. He told reporters government scientists had “run through it all” and that anthropogenic climate change had turned out to be “very hard to dispute”.

Rose and other campaigners have asked for such briefings to be made public, and for all ministers and MPs to be informed of the science.

The hunger striker said he had taken the most inspiration from Guillermo Fernandez, a Swiss man who claimed a victory after 39 days of hunger strike when scientists announced they would meet Swiss MPs to discuss climate science.

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