Tackling climate change is an environmental and economic necessity. It is an issue of social justice and we all have a duty to protect some of the poorest people in the world, and here at home, from threats to their climate security.
The UK has a strong legacy of international leadership on climate change and the last Labour Government had a proud record in this area. For example, it enshrined the world’s first legally binding carbon emissions reduction targets in the Climate Change Act and doubled the UK’s renewable energy capacity. The Labour Government also took action at the UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009 to win agreement from world leaders to set up the UN’s global climate fund and helped to protect over 300,000 Bangladeshi people from flooding.
In Paris, for the first time, leaders from nearly every country in the world came together to cut carbon pollution and set us on the path to a cleaner, greener future: to agree on a common goal of building a carbon-neutral global economy within a generation, to reduce pollution and to switch to cleaner energy and all countries have agreed to raise their ambition every five years until the job is done.
I welcome the announcement that the developed world will do its fair share by providing at least $100 billion of finance to assist poorer and more vulnerable countries.
We must be honest that the pledges made by each country do not add up to a commitment that will keep temperatures well below the two degrees increase. However, the agreement does take us much closer to climate safety and sends a clear signal that the era of unchecked fossil fuel use is coming to an end.
I support the outcome of the UN COP21 conference but international cooperation and ambition to reduce greenhouse gases and invest in clean energy technologies must be increased if global temperature rises are to be limited and the goal of climate safety kept within reach. I am very concerned at the Government’s decisions to cut investment in carbon capture and storage technology, privatise the Green Investment Bank without protecting its green mandate, reduce funding for energy efficiency and solar energy and block the growth of wind energy, which all jeopardise the future of Britain’s important low-carbon industries.
A historic agreement was reached in Paris, the Government must now show how they plan to meet Britain’s climate change commitments. I will continue to press the Government to change course domestically and support a low-carbon economy here in the UK. I believe this is vital if we are to make progress towards the ultimate goal of a completely carbon-free global economy in the second half of the century.