Spending billions on trying to reduce carbon emissions is one giant con that is depriving third world countries of vital funds to tackle famine, HIV and other diseases, Sammy Wilson said.
The DUP minister has been heavily criticised by environmentalists for claiming that ongoing climatic shifts are down to nature and not mankind.
But while acknowledging his views on global warming may not be popular, the East Antrim MP said he was not prepared to be bullied by eco fundamentalists.
“I’ll not be stopped saying what I believe needs to be said about climate change,” he said.
"Most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about it
“I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all. Because there is now a degree of hysteria about it, fairly unformed hysteria I’ve got to say as well.
“I mean I get it in the Assembly all the time and most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about climate change, not read one book about climate change, if you asked them to explain how they believe there’s a connection between CO2 emission and the effects which they claim there’s going to be, if you ask them to explain the thought process or the modelling that is required and the assumptions behind that and how tenuous all the connections are, they wouldn’t have a clue.
“They simply get letters about it from all these lobby groups, it’s popular and therefore they go along with the flow — and that would be ok if there were no implications for it, but the implications are immense.”
He said while people in the western world were facing spiralling fuel bills as a result of efforts to cut CO2, the implications in poorer countries were graver.
“What are the problems that face us either locally and internationally. Are those not the things we should be concentrating on?” he asked.
“HIV, lack of clean water, which kills millions of people in third world countries, lack of education.
“A fraction of the money we are currently spending on climate change could actually eradicate those three problems alone, a fraction of it.
“I think as a society we sometimes need to get some of these things in perspective and when I listen to some of the rubbish that is spoken by some of my colleagues in the Assembly it amuses me at times and other times it angers me.”
Despite his views on CO2, Mr Wilson said he does not intend to backtrack on commitments made by his predecessor at the Department of the Environment, Arlene Foster, to make the Stormont estate carbon neutral.
He said while he wasn’t worried about reducing CO2 output, he said the policy would help to cut fuels bills.
“I don’t couch those actions in terms of reducing Co2 emissions,” he said. “I don’t care about Co2 emissions to be quite truthful because I don’t think it’s all that important but what I do believe is, and perhaps this is where there can be some convergence, as far as using fuel more efficiently that is good for our economy; that makes us more competitive. If we can save in schools hundreds of thousands on fuel that’s more money being put for books or classroom assistants.
“So yes there are things we can do. If you want to express it terms of carbon neutral, I just express it terms of making the place more efficient, less wasteful and hopefully that will release money to do the proper things that we should be doing.”