However, in his speech to the Conservative party conference, he spoke in terms that many of them would applaud.
The Prime Minister talked about the “existential” challenge faced by humanity and how the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow would see “the resolve of the world... put to the test”. “Can we keep alive the ambition of Paris – to stop the planet heating by more than 1.5 degrees?” he asked.
That ambition – designed to ensure we avoid particularly dangerous climate change – is hanging by a thread and if the Glasgow talks fail to produce concrete plans for dramatic cuts in global carbon emissions it could well snap.
But Johnson rightly struck an optimistic note, eulogising giant offshore wind turbines in the Moray Firth – “an aquatic forest of white turbines towering over the water like the redwoods of California”. He said he had met apprentices who had moved into renewable energy after working in the oil and gas sector and now had “the extra satisfaction that goes with knowing you are doing something to save the planet, and get Britain to net zero by 2050”.
It was little more than a passing mention, but Johnson’s message that the world can still stop dangerous global warming and that our economy can thrive while doing so was an important one – all the more so because it came from someone once regarded as a sceptic.