We’ve done it! For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far. While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.
What have we achieved? An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030. Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.
In the two years I spent working on this, I was also determined the deal was as flexible as possible so we could go green as cost effectively as possible – able to benefit from new technologies as they evolve. We have built the world’s first ever low carbon,electricity market here in the UK to be technology neutral, and now Europe has copied us.
Effectively what we’ve done is Europeanise the UK’s Climate Change Act – the rest of Europe is levelling up to what the UK has already committed to do.
There’s also an added bonus. This deal bolsters Europe’s energy security by moving away from imports and towards a mix of home-grown energy. Mr Putin won’t enjoy reading that this deal will see the EU’s net energy imports reduce by 14%, and EU gas imports by 12% in 2030.
How have we achieved this? Let’s just say that not everyone in government thought we could get agreement on this. Some thought it was too ambitious. But we pushed ahead with it, fought several battles and won cross UK Government agreement.
The key to getting this deal done has been working with like-minded European partners. It’s been a long process, but working with those partners via the Green Growth Group that I set up has meant that we’ve won the argument and the deal has been done.
Make no mistake, this deal is the most significant environment agreement any UK Government has ever been involved with – and the Liberal Democrats led it in the UK and the EU. We can now say, this is the greenest government ever, thanks to the Liberal Democrats.
What comes next? Well, my ambition for cutting climate change doesn’t stop here. We now need to sell this package to the rest of the world. Next year in Paris I want to see an ambitious global deal signed. There is a lot of work to be done over the coming months to ensure we continue this momentum and pave the way for that deal. Rest assured I’ll be leading the charge.
* Ed Davey was the MP for Kingston and Surbiton and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.