CONTENDERS for the next Prime Minister have been slammed for refusing to take the climate crisis “seriously” while temperatures soar across the UK.

While England and Wales saw record temperatures reached on Monday, with Scotland soon to follow, none of the Tory leadership hopefuls have so far spoken in support of tackling the climate crisis.

It comes as a survey revealed net zero commitments are at the bottom of Tory party members priorities.

READ MORE: UK government ministers 'dragged' to Commons to answer questions​ on heatwave

Greenpeace accused the five MPs still in the running for “burying their head in the sand” over blistering temperatures sweeping the country.

Following in the footsteps of their predecessor Boris Johnson, who dodged two Cobra meetings on soaring temperatures and the impact on services and infrastructure this week, the five Tory MPs still in the running have side-stepped the biggest issue of the week.

Penny Mordaunt has publicly supported net zero policies, but voted against them, and has been criticised for taking a £10,000 donation from a climate denial group.

Rishi Sunak didn’t mention the climate crisis in his last budget, was forced into a windfall tax for oil and gas firms - which at the same time gave them an option to reduce their bills by claiming back investment costs in future projects - halved air passenger duty and didn’t set aside any funding to insulate homes to reduce heating bills.

The National: Sunak did not mention the climate crisis in his last budget as chancellorSunak did not mention the climate crisis in his last budget as chancellor

Liz Truss has said she supports net zero targets but would temporarily scrap the green energy levy to allow businesses and industry to “thrive”. She was previously accused of dropping climate commitments from the trade deal struck with Australia.

Kemi Badenoch would scrap net zero commitments completely, dubbing them “unliateral economic disarmament”, and has consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change during her time as an MP.

Tom Tugendhat had to pull back on comments he made which suggested he was not committed to reaching the 2050 target, but later clarified he did support the target but that no one has “set out a path to achieving it”.

On Monday, all five remaining contenders committed to meeting net zero targets by 2050 at a Conservative Environment Network (CEN) hustings chaired by Cop26 President Alok Sharma.

Prior to the hustings, all candidates except Badenoch had signed a CEN pledge to maintain the target.

Tugendhat crashed out of the race on Monday night, leaving Sunak, Truss, Mordaunt and Badenoch still in the running. 

The SNP's Climate Change spokesperson, Alan Brown MP, said: "It really does beggar belief that as the UK hits record temperatures, Tory leadership candidates refuse to take the climate emergency seriously.

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"As gas prices continue to soar, it is clear that renewable energy is the cheapest and best form of generation which will help us reach our net-zero targets.

"North of the border, Scotland is delivering lasting action to secure a net-zero and climate resilient future in a way that is fair and just for everyone.

"In contrast to the Tories, the SNP are committed to a just transition to net-zero by 2045, with an ambitious interim 2030 target of a 75% reduction in emissions - the most ambitious legally-binding commitment we are aware of for any country in the world.”

Ross Greer, Scottish Greens MSP, said "It's astonishing that a Tory leadership contest is being held in the midst of record-breaking temperatures, less than a year after COP26 in Glasgow, and at best the candidates seem to have absolutely nothing to say about the greatest crisis we face.

"Worse, at least some of them clearly want to roll back what little action the UK government is taking.

“Every year we see more extreme weather events with bigger costs to our economy, to our health, to our environment, and for increasing numbers of people across the world, at the cost of their lives. Such a serious crisis requires serious leadership. And we just aren't seeing that from anyone in this contest."

It comes as Labour MP Clive Lewis blasted the government for having “too many climate deniers” on their benches, adding: “When you have leadership candidates moving away from net zero, it’s an absolute joke and this government is a joke when it comes to the climate crisis.”

Minister Kit Malthouse responded by claiming Labour had supported reopening the coal mines, and not on the substance of the question.

READ MORE: Kemi Badenoch says SNP 'blame England for injustices'

Climate campaigners have said the issue should be at the “top of the agenda” for whoever takes over as Prime Minister.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Any candidate denying or delaying the urgency of the action needed is playing with fire. “Politicians of every stripe must get serious about adapting to the increasingly extreme climate impacts that are locked in due to our inadequate response to the crisis so far.

“The next UK Government must break from the past and finally listen to the science and scrap plans to dish out more licences and approvals to oil and gas companies hellbent on destroying the climate for profit.”

Rebecca Newsom, Greenpeace UK, said: “As the mercury reaches record highs today, those vying to be the next Prime Minister should be setting out their plans for tackling the climate crisis - and the increasing number of deadly heatwaves and floods that come with it.

"Instead, candidates appear more inclined to bury their heads in the sand, in a desperate attempt to ignore the blisteringly hot, record breaking elephant in the room.”

The National: Rising temperatures saw Scots soaking up the sun on Monday - but there have been numerous warnings over the climate and health impactRising temperatures saw Scots soaking up the sun on Monday - but there have been numerous warnings over the climate and health impact

Newsom added that the next PM should have a plan to deal with increasing extreme weather events. She said: “We need a Prime Minister willing to put climate action at the top of the agenda but, so far, despite the searing heat, we’ve barely even had warm words from the candidates.”

It comes as maintaining net zero commitments were last on the list of priorities amongst Tory members when it came to the leadership candidates.

In a YouGov poll released on Monday, 879 Tory party members were asked to pick their top three policies which would make them support a candidate.

They were; winning the next general election (56%), controlling immigration (49%), cost of living help (40%), strengthening the UK’s position post-Brexit (40%), cutting personal taxes (26%), increasing defence spending (26%), maintaining the levelling up commitment (20%), cutting business taxes (12%), increasing NHS spending (11%) and sticking to the net zero 2050 commitment (4%).