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We must push for an ambitious global agreement on climate change

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Here's my article for the Hornsey & Wood Green Labour climate change & environment group's newsletter on why we must push for an ambitious global agreement at the UN climate change talks in Paris.  

Back in June, only a few weeks after my election, I met the delegation from Hornsey & Wood Green who had made their way to Parliament as part of the biggest ever lobby on climate change.  They came to tell this Government to take action, to ensure clean, safe power; help for people in the poorest countries; and to ask that world leaders use the UN climate summit in Paris in December to push for an ambitious global agreement.  

It was a visible display of the strength of feeling locally on one of the most important issues this planet faces.  Yet in the months since that day, we have seen yet more examples of the Conservative Government’s wrong-headed determination to ‘cut the green crap’.  From ending the Renewables Obligation one year early and making it more difficult for onshore wind farms to get planning permission to pushing forward with huge cuts to the ‘Feed-in Tariff’ that risk decimating the rooftop solar industry in the UK.  All this despite onshore wind being the cheapest form of clean energy and the renewables sector supporting thousands of jobs across the UK and generating over £900 million for our economy.  

These are bad decisions for our planet, for our economy and for our hope of hitting our 2020 renewables targets.  

As a newly appointed Shadow Foreign Office Minister, I am excited that my brief includes climate change and believe we should be making a strong case for an ambitious Paris deal.  It’s the best opportunity in years to develop a new international agreement that covers all countries and curbs global warming.  We can’t let the opportunity be squandered, not least because it is the poorest that are most affected by extremes of weather and if we don’t take tough action now we risk wiping out the progress made in reducing global poverty in recent years.  

The UK Government should be pushing for ambitious emissions targets for all countries to limit global temperature rises to well below the agreed 2°C target and providing greater support for developing countries to cope with the impact of climate change.  That means giving developing countries the confidence in knowing they will receive adequate, on-going support with clarity about where the money is coming from and how it can be used.  

But as the Paris deal only comes into force in 2020 we should also keep pushing the Government now to set a legally binding target to take the carbon out of our electricity supply by 2030 and do much more to support a low-carbon economy both here and overseas.  The renewables sector is a huge opportunity for jobs and growth, but you wouldn't think so if you listened to this Government's mixed messages and policies that are seeing us fall behind in green growth investment.  

I look forward to hearing from the climate change & environment group on how you would like Labour to respond to the challenges that will be discussed in Paris.  You can contact me on catherine.west.mp@parliament.uk.  We owe it to our future generations to use this opportunity to act.”     

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Catherine West

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