Thank you for contacting me about your understandable concerns regarding COP26. I completely agree that we need to do more as a nation to tackle climate change. The UK needs to show leadership as the COP26 climate conference approaches. Unfortunately recent events and political decisions by the Government have worked to undermine this goal.
For too long climate change has been viewed as tomorrow’s problem – an issue that will affect future generations. The urgency for change has become strikingly evident, in light of the recent extreme flooding across Europe and the extreme heat that has been experienced in Pakistan and Canada. I fear that without a substantial change to our attitudes towards fossil fuels, these events will become much more regular with increasingly disastrous consequences.
The Tories’ lack of seriousness on environmental issues has again been highlighted by their shambolic handling of the COP 26 global climate change conference. The former head of the summit, Claire O’Neill, revealed that Boris Johnson admitted he “doesn’t get” climate change and she rightly criticised the Prime Minister for a “huge lack of leadership and engagement” over the UK’s hosting of the COP 26.
There is no response to the climate crisis that does not confront the problem of fossil fuel supply head on. As things stand, the UN has warned that countries are on course to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5°C. And as you note, the International Energy Agency makes clear that the pathway the world needs to take to get to a net zero energy system by 2050 involves no new oil and gas fields being approved for development beyond projects already committed to as of this year.
I’m really proud the Labour Party has a policy for a Green Economic Recovery, with £30 billion in planned capital investment brought forward as part of a rapid stimulus package to support up to 400,000 new, clean jobs in manufacturing and other key sectors. This will work to accelerate investment in clean projects such as energy efficiency, flood prevention, offshore wind, cycling and walking infrastructure and the electric vehicle charging network would help to create secure, stable employment in every corner of the country right now. We have an opportunity to be the leading light on tackling climate change, by introducing bold and forward thinking green policies.
It is therefore vital that we reach an international agreement on a managed and fair phase out of fossil fuels across the globe. To do this, we need the UK Government to show leadership as the COP26 climate conference approaches. Unfortunately, I believe that plans such as the development of the Cambo oil field will instead undermine the effort to foster international action on this issue. Seeking to drill for more oil and gas simply sends the message that the Government does not take the climate emergency seriously and has not accepted the urgent need to phase out fossil fuel production.
I do not believe we should risk undermining our international credibility in this way at such a critical time. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to support efforts to press the Government on this issue and to call for an end to new fossil fuel supply, alongside urgent investment in renewables and clear plans for a fair transition to them for people and places.