Controversy After Boris Johnson’s Dad Appears On Newsnight As An ‘Environmentalist’

by : Hannah Smith on : 10 Aug 2021 12:55
Controversy After Boris Johnson's Dad Appears On Newsnight As An 'Environmentalist'BBC/PA Images

Over the past few years, Stanley Johnson has certainly been making the most out of being the Prime Minister’s father, appearing on everything from I’m A Celebrity… to Celebrity Gogglebox.

But viewers were more than a little taken aback by his latest appearance after the author and retired Conservative politician showed up on Newsnight to give his opinion on the country’s climate change policy.


Introduced onto the show as an environmentalist, Johnson spoke about a new UN climate change report which warned it was too late to prevent global temperatures increasing by 1.5C – the benchmark that the Paris Climate Agreement had been implemented to avoid.

Stanley Johnson (PA Images)PA Images

During his appearance, Johnson was asked what the government should do to prevent a worsening climate disaster and was also asked whether he would try to persuade his son to take further steps.

In response, Johnson said he believed the Prime Minister to be ‘well seized’ of the importance of action on climate change, adding that he thought his son was likely in favour of more radical measures like carbon taxing. In response to the report’s findings, Johnson blamed larger countries like India and China for the lack of tougher measures.


Johnson actually has a long association with environmentalism, having previously led the European Commission’s Prevention of Pollution Division. He is involved with several environmental charities, and in 1984 was awarded the Greenpeace Award for Outstanding Services to the Environment. More recently, he’s participated in protests with Extinction Rebellion.

However viewers quickly took to social media to ask why Newsnight had given an unappointed relative of the Prime Minister airtime on this issue, with one person tweeting ‘in the future when we look back and ask how did we end up in a catastrophe, we need only to look at this video of the national broadcaster interviewing not an expert, but the PMs dad.’

‘This is insane. We have a country full of brilliant climate scientists, and you pick Stanley Johnson?!’ another viewer wrote.


Meanwhile, others questioned whether his own lifestyle was really all that eco-friendly, pointing out that Johnson just last year broke lockdown to fly to Greece via Bulgaria.

As well as getting Johnson’s thoughts on the issue, Newsnight also spoke to one of the report’s authors, Dr. Friederike Otto, who said that while the study proved ‘human-induced climate change is a fact,’ there was still time for the world to take action to stop temperatures from rising further.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, Boris Johnson, Climate Change


  1. @BBCNewsnight/Twitter

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