This is a guest blog from the Climate Coalition, CAFOD supporters joined people from development, environmental and community organisations from across the UK in the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up For The Love Of mass climate lobby of parliament on 17 June.
The UK can still lead on climate change – but we need to see positive action at home
On June 17th, thousands of people from around the country flocked to Westminster to meet their MPs. At over 430 meetings, our leaders were asked to support strong climate action to protect all the things we love that could be lost to climate change.
It was an inspiring day of action, and hundreds of MPs sat up and took notice of a powerful public voice calling for climate action. That evening, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd expressed support for the lobby, and her hope for an ambitious global deal at the UN climate talks in December. But in the wake of recent announcements, many will be asking where is this government’s credible low carbon plan essential for delivering the change we want to see in this country and for providing the credibility for international leadership.
When we lobbied our MPs in June, we asked for commitments in three key areas: warm homes for all; clean, safe power; and protecting people and nature. Two months since, what changes have we seen?
The news hasn’t been good so far. In July it was announced that the zero-carbon homes policy, designed to deliver energy-efficient warm homes, is being scrapped. Meanwhile, major cuts to support for renewable energy have been announced, including the scaling back of subsidies for wind and solar. And despite strong campaigning asking the government to protect nature, the use of pesticides that could seriously harm our bee population was recently approved.
This is disappointing news – but the UK government could still take a stronger stance on climate, and if it did it would be in tune with public opinion and growing momentum for action.
Three quarters of the UK public support the UK signing up to an international climate deal. Diverse voices are speaking up on the need for climate action – from the Church of England, to the health community and major businesses.
With international climate talks just months away, the UK has the chance to show leadership on climate – but this has to be matched with positive action at home. It’s worth remembering that protecting the environment has always been important to Conservative governments: one of the first political leaders to speak about the risks of global warming was Margaret Thatcher. In February this year, David Cameron signed our Leader’s Pledge in which he committed to defend the Climate Change Act – the introduction of which he supported as leader of the opposition in 2008. And we’ve made important progress on emissions in recent years, with a nearly 10% reduction in carbon emissions in 2014 while the economy grew.
In the run-up to the Paris climate talks, countries are announcing their commitments to tackling climate change. When the Marshall Islands announced their emissions cuts, they had this to say: “Our message is simple: If one of the world’s smallest, poorest and most geographically isolated countries can do it, so can you.”
This stands as a challenge to us all. The UK can be leaders on climate action – we have a chance to stand on the world stage this year as ambitious, forward-thinking advocates for a future where the things we love are safeguarded against the effects of climate change. It’s time for the government to take that chance, and match its rhetoric with concrete, positive action.
Join thousands of other CAFOD supporters who have already been inspired to add their voice to the climate change petition by asking David Cameron to show leadership on climate change.