On the 27 July I wrote to the Prime Minister about The Time Is Now campaign and the need for a green recovery. You can see my letter in full below:
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to you in support of the Time Is Now campaign for a healthy, green, and fair recovery from the present crisis.
It is extremely important for us not to lose sight of the threat of global heating to our country, our species, and our planet, even during this crisis and while the threat of a second wave remains present. This year, we have seen record-breaking heatwaves in Siberia, and the hottest month of May ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. During the last weeks, scientific evidence has been reported of previously frozen methane leaking from the sea floor around Antarctica, a process which could increase temperatures far more rapidly than we currently expect.
With threats of this severity growing ever more likely, we need constant action to build sustainability and progress towards net zero emissions into every aspect of Government policy and the workings of our economy and society. This includes rigorous assessments for the emissions impacts of policies to ensure that the netzero commitment is matched by action, greater investments in energy efficiency, home insulation, active travel, and green public transport, and strategic action to increase access to green spaces and enable our countryside to act more powerfully as a carbon sink.
The support packages that many sectors of our economy need must be compatible with the Government’s carbon reduction promises. I have previously written to the Secretary of State for Transport in relation to the need for a sustainable and just package of support to protect jobs and livelihoods in the aviation sector, but this is a principle that extends more widely. It is important that funding given to private companies to prevent economic damage from this crisis comes with conditions to ensure that these companies use that generosity and support for the benefit of their workers, and to transform their business models to make them compatible with ambitious net zero targets.
Internationally, I believe we need to build momentum and unity behind strong emissions reductions while enabling developing countries to grow and tackle global poverty and inequality. I urge you to be ambitious with the UK’s objectives and the intense diplomatic preparation required for next year’s COP26 in Glasgow. Even the most robust domestic action to cut our contribution to global heating will not achieve its goals unless we can create consensus for similar actions across the world and ensure that the international actions of UK companies live up to the commitments we expect of them at home.
This international agenda should clearly include debt cancellations and a significant role for grants rather than loans. Developing countries cannot and will not secure green economic growth on the basis of unsustainable financing. Forcing poorer countries into a choice between cheap fossil fuels on the one hand, and green technologies accompanied by unpayable debts on the other, can only result in greater climate warming, regional instability and injustice.
Surely in addition we need clear statutory protections for environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards to prevent improving practices in the UK from being exploited and undermined by cheaper imported products. It is also important that UK companies can be held to account for unsustainable, dirty, and unfair practices in their international operations and supply chains.
Finally, I believe that the use of public money to finance dirty energy projects internationally must end, and quickly. This is an issue of international reputation; it provides the United Kingdom with an opportunity to be heard on climate issues in the future. What does it say about us as a country if we celebrate ourselves for our declaration of climate emergency and the actions we are taking, while actively undermining those same goals with our international funding decisions?
I urge you to listen to the Time is Now campaigners and to the portentous warnings of climate scientists, to identify further and stronger actions that the Government can take to reduce domestic and international carbon emissions as quickly and fairly as possible.