Wera Hobhouse MP writes: The Conservatives are taking a major risk with people’s lives

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The UK’s presidency of COP26 should have been a turning point for Government action. Instead there are targets, with no sufficient plans in place to actually meet them. Therese Coffey noted that “the big COPs tend to be every five years,” which aligns well with her colleague Sunak’s lacklustre attitude toward this year’s conference.

The day after leaving COP27, where he said we need to ‘move further and faster’ toward Net Zero, the Prime Minister is set to announce that he has secured a major deal with the US to import 10 billion cubic metres of fracked shale gas.

Meanwhile, those with our feet on the ground can see that the planet is facing an existential emergency. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was right when he warned that we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.

Conservative ignorance of climate change has led the Prime Minister to a complete dereliction of his duty. The world is on course to reach 2.8 degrees of heating by the end of the century. Without action now, the 1.5-degree target is unreachable.

There is clearly no choice for the Government but to take a leading role. Yet somehow they see trailing behind as a credible option. Biodiversity loss remains halted, not reversed, and the onshore wind ban stands unjustifiably strong. Current net zero strategy is devised with just over a 50% chance of success. This is not leading by example. This is taking a major risk with people’s lives.

The Liberal Democrats’ target is to generate 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030. Net zero means completely transitioning out of fossil fuels in this sector. We are fighting against fracking, against coal and against delay.

That is why during a debate regarding the Nature and Climate Declaration last week, I called upon the Government to change course. The Climate and Ecology (CE) Bill can get us there. It would require the UK to do its fair share globally to cut its emissions and stay below 1.5 degrees of global warming, and commit the Government to ensure that nature is visibly and measurably recovering by 2030. As the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, anything less than this is utterly unacceptable.

At this rate, the Government will miss its commitment to leave the environment in a better state than they found it. Radicalism is necessary in the face of the climate emergency, the time for inaction is over. Like me, all Lib Dem MPs, and hundreds of Lib Dem councillors across the nations, please sign up to the Zero Hour campaign for the CE Bill today.

Zero Hour have been instrumental in pushing for the Bill, achieving mass cross-party support. If you would like to get involved with their campaign click here, as we cannot quit until climate justice is served.

* Wera Hobhouse is the Member of Parliament for Bath. She is Liberal Democrat Leader of the House of Commons and the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Energy & Climate Change and Transport.

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  • Net zero won’t be accomplished by impoverishing the already poor….2030 is fantasy politics .

  • Jenny Barnes 15th Nov '22 - 11:49am

    Tax those yachts, private jets, and SUVs

  • Sadly the majority of human beings have to live in the real world where life has to be negotiated through the difficulties and worries of the here and now.

  • David Garlick 16th Nov '22 - 11:34am

    The here and now is of little significance in light of the Climate catastrophy that is on its way.
    The people of this country CRYING OUT FOR LEADERSHIP on this issue. They have a clear idea of the overall problem but need leadership to help them to help the planet whilst feeding themselves and their families. Jam today, however thinly spread, is of little use if it is followed by no food tomorrow.

    This is not a time for shilly shalliying, navel gazing or the ‘too diffilcult to handle’ back burner.

    Get real folks, if we don’t lead the reality show the planet will be saying “your are a disaster, I am getting you out of here and then I can recover”.

    Get started with the nations of the Commonwealth. Use the Goodwill and Trust there, make reparations whilst stopping a global disaster. What’s not to like?

  • Jason Connor 17th Nov '22 - 12:18pm

    I would agree with Barry Lofty. I also get more annoyed with litter dumped on streets and people who do not recycle which then ends up in landfill. Nice not, for people who live near sites where it’s incinerated and are subjected to pollution. There are bread and butter local issues. However for many of us on lower incomes, we can’t afford expensive measures pushed by the upper middle classes who can afford them. As for the UK being nature depleted, well it doesn’t help does it when you have council’s cutting down trees and endorsing developments without green spaces.

  • There is now no argument for nuclear. With plentiful renewables they can provide the base load for electricity generation. The choice for back up seems to be between batteries, pumped storage, hydrogen, ammonia, modern gas fired power stations and demand management. Probably a bit of each.

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