Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

It is 100 days until COP26 begins in Glasgow, and it is more important than ever—it is vital—that the Government get their own house in order. This is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the great moment of hope that was the 2015 Paris agreement. It is deeply unfortunate that in recent months the Government have consistently chosen lip service over climate action. They have scrapped the green homes grant… The planning Bill denies councils the ability to block new developments for environmental reasons. Most significantly, the Government have failed to set any direction on how to heat our homes in the future and how to expand the electricity grid for the doubling or trebling of our electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

Those changes and many more serve only to undermine our climate credibility on the international stage…

We hold the COP26 presidency. It is our responsibility to push for serious ambition from countries worldwide—not only to influence them to legislate for net zero, but to achieve it as soon as possible. We have had a string of incredibly disappointing COPs in the years since the Paris agreement. Big decisions have been kicked further and further down the road.

If we want the negotiations to solve our climate crisis, and if we want this forum to be trusted by stakeholders and Governments around the world, the Paris rulebook must be finalised by the end of this COP. The responsibly for that lies with the Government as host. We must not only break the deadlock on article 6 and transparency; the UK must use this opportunity to make progress on the issue of loss and damage, as we have already heard.

We have seen nations ravaged by the covid pandemic while also facing climate impacts that are causing devastation. Those vulnerable communities deserve new and additional finance to compensate for the irretrievable non-economic loss caused, as well as the more quantifiable damage caused by natural disasters…

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Jul '21 - 11:04am

    I watched the Brian Cox planets programme – Venus suffered from greenhouse effect, all the water is in the atmosphere, surface temp c500C pressure 90bar…. Let’s hope it doesn’t get that bad.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Jul '21 - 11:42am

    @ Jenny,

    The climate change deniers will probably say that Venus is closer to the sun therefore we’d expect it to be hotter. That’s true. They proabably won’t say is that Mercury is even closer to the sun but its average temperature is lower.

    The deniers always ask for scientific proof that an increase in CO2 levels will cause harmful warming. Yet, they already have it in a study of the Venusian atmosphere. CO2, and other GH gas, levels are nowhere near saturated. More GH gas missions will cause more warming.

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Jul '21 - 2:28pm

    Well, the night time temp on Mercury is -290, so combined with a daytime temp of 800 or so, that’s about 250 average.
    Prof Cox explained that as the sun got hotter, the oceans on Venus gradually evaporated into the atmosphere, water vapour being a greenhouse gas so the surface temperature rose and more water evaporated .. etc.
    Fascinating explanations, but it does make you realise how fragile our home really is.

  • ………………….The Great Barrier Reef will not be placed on a list of world heritage sites “in danger” after a global lobbying effort from Australia against the proposed listing……………………

    Australia is one of the world’s most vociferous denier of ‘man made climate change’ and, despite UNESCo and scientific (from inside and outside Australia) evidence to the contrary , it looks like national business interests are still able to continue blocking environmental action..

    For me the February 14, 1990 picture* of the ‘pale blue dot’ brings home the reality that we only have one planet and should act accordingly. The 30 year old photo is still worth viewing..

    “Voyager 1 spacecraft saw Earth from a distance of nearly four billion miles, capturing a view of our planet later described by scientist Carl Sagan as a “Pale Blue Dot.”

  • John Marriott 23rd Jul '21 - 3:29pm

    China produces something like one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, with the USA not far behind. The U.K. produces something under 2%. The USA, after Trump’s nightmare four years, has only recently come back on board and then there’s India. I read recently that under Bolsonaro, the Brazilian rainforest now emits more CO2 than it absorbs. Perhaps the recent adverse weather events in China might signal a few alarm bells there, while political unrest might be a factor in India and Brazil.

    So, whatever we do is a mere drop in the ocean. If these other countries can’t or won’t get a grip, then we are just whistling in the wind.

  • Barry Loftyhas 23rd Jul '21 - 3:42pm

    What the world will need is a ” progressive alliance!! ” if there is going to be any chance of solving climate change, any bets on that happening in the near future??

  • @John Marriott

    We have had this discussion in the past.

    We are here in the UK – we can only vote for a British Government – not the Chinese one.

    While we may be out of the EU – we are part of a region in Europe that has had some of the highest carbon emissions – and every part of that region need to take action if it is to get its act together.

    It’s a bit like saying I am only 1/66 millionth of the UK – I am only a drop in the ocean of the UK’s emissions – but of course I should do my part. As the slogan has it – think global, act local. Better than your defeatist attitude :)!

    Historically the Western most developed countries have had by far the most carbon emissions per head.

    It’s good news for climate change that we have got Biden in the White House but actually quite a lot was happening in the US despite Trump. I believe many individual states were implementing the Climate Change agreements and they have a lot of power over their economies – effectively being “mini-countries” themselves – California would I believe something like the 5th or 6th largest economy if it was a standalone “country”.

    China is I believe a bit mixed – especially on coal fired power production. But it has also done a lot on solar power etc. and I believe a leader on solar panel production – and R&D driving down the cost and the effectiveness of individual panels.

    And I believe that basically solar power is now cheaper essentially than conventional electricity generation – so if you are China or indeed the UK and you want cheaper power you are going to invest in solar power just out of self-interest.

    China also knows if it is not going to face trade barriers over carbon emissions – either explicitly or consumers in the West boycotting them then it knows it needs to make progress on carbon.

  • Barry Lofty 23rd Jul '21 - 4:21pm

    Sorry don’t know what happened with my name???

  • John Shoesmith 23rd Jul '21 - 4:30pm

    Johnson gained power by virtue of an electoral pact with the Climate Change denying Brexit party, he has soured relations with many countries around Europe and the world, and he has an established track record of breaking agreements. He has just cut overseas aid. His voters want to see a Britain first policy. He needs to keep the support of the Right Wing press and his rich donors. He’s hardly an ideal COP 26 host.

    He is ruthless and clever. He recognises that ‘Green’ statements win votes, but that actually implementing them is unpopular, so don’t expect his long term actions to match his short term words.

    We need to recognise that he is hosting this conference partly because his opposition is shambolic. If we really believe that we face a climate emergency we need to act accordingly. Johnson only won 44% of the vote in 2019. He can be beaten, but only if the opposition parties get their heads together and offer a credible alternative to the electorate.

    Otherwise, in 3 or 4 years time, as climate chaos becomes inevitable, we’ll still be standing on the side-lines tut – tutting powerlessly.

  • John Marriott 23rd Jul '21 - 5:00pm

    Whatever you say does not surely invalidate my position. Yes, of course we should do our bit; but it will only stay ‘a bit’ unless countries like China and the USA are on board.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Jul '21 - 5:11pm

    @John Marriott
    “China produces something like one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions”
    How much of that might be due to other countries exporting part of their emissions via Chinese-made goods?

    What might the UK’s emissions be if it manufactured more of what it uses?

  • John Marriott 23rd Jul '21 - 9:30pm

    Nothing like the level of emissions produced by China’s continuing reliance on burning coal to produce power.

  • John Shoesmith 24th Jul '21 - 11:24am

    I recognise that the UK is only a small part of the answer to the climate crisis, but we have a duty to do the best we can.

    This is a UK political party. Our purpose in life is to change the way the UK is governed. The best we can do is to defeat Johnson’s nationalists, because nationalism isn’t the way to solve a global problem.

    The Liberal Democrats have a major role in doing that. If we fight the next general election in such a way that we attract millions of concerned voters but win only a tiny number of seats, that not very helpful. It’s not doing our best to defeat Johnson. It’s splitting the opposition vote and helping Johnson.

    We have a duty to talk to the other English opposition parties and prepare a credible proposal to the British people.

  • John Shoesmith 23rd Jul ’21 – 4:30pm:
    Johnson gained power by virtue of an electoral pact with the Climate Change denying Brexit party,…

    There was no pact; the Conservatives declined Farage’s offer. The Brexit Party only had two substantive policies: to implement the EU Referendum decision and scrap HS2. They have since been renamed as the Reform Party and now have a plan to ‘Reform our Environment’:

    Technology improvements will enable us to reduce emissions further and capture emissions. […]

    We will boost the solar and wind renewable sector using a new government owned Renewable Bank; the panels and turbines must be made here in the UK to save and create British jobs. This will also mean dramatically lower utility costs.

  • Antony Watts 24th Jul '21 - 3:02pm

    So you are as bad as everyone else. “We must do something” “We must heat our houses” “We must increase electricity”

    Yet not a thing about how. LDs how do you propose to do it, technically and financially

  • Antony Watts makes an important point to the Liberal Democrats which they will ignore at their peril…….the absence of detailed worked out policies. As he says, “Yet not a thing about how. LDs how do you propose to do it, technically and financially ?”.

    An obvious example is Sir Edward Davey’s so called ‘Charter for Carers’……. not a peep in it about a professional career structure and decent wages for care workers who are employed in the what is now the mostly privatised for profit care sector…. There are about 1.3 million carers employed in the UK on an average pay of £ 8.42 per hour. As is often said in the USA, “Where’s the beef”.

    Until this party develops well informed and detailed policies using the best expertise available to it in the Universities (which Jo Grimond did) it will continue to float up and down the creek without a paddle. To look for salvation in a few comfortable Home Counties seats based purely on a distaste for the awful Johnson is a chimera.

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