Rochdale MP calls for the government ‘to play its fair and proper role in tackling climate change’

Date published: 18 November 2020

Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd has become one of 65 cross-party Members of Parliament to co-sign an Early Day Motion (EDM), welcoming the presentation of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and calling for the government to play its ‘fair and proper role’ in tackling climate change.

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are used by MPs in the Commons to draw the attention of the House to a particular issue, event or campaign.

The Bill, which was drafted by expert scientists, lawyers and academics, sets a viable pathway for the UK to follow by:

  • Requiring the government to ensure that the UK reduces greenhouse gas emissions in line with its legally-binding international obligations to limit global heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels
  • Requiring the government to protect and restore habitats, woodlands, wetlands and the wider natural world
  • Establishing a representative Citizens’ Assembly to involve people from all parts of the UK in deciding which policies are needed to avoid irreversible environmental damage.

At the COP21 Paris climate conference in December 2015, 195 countries – including the UK - adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ‘Paris Agreement’ provides a framework for governments, business and investors to keep global warming well below 2°C, pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C by 2100.

A 1.5°C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change. Climate scientists have warned that even a half-degree difference beyond this could cause irreversible damage, and that we only have until 2030 for global warming to be kept at the 1.5°C maximum.

To reach this, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030. Last year, the UK legislated its net-zero emissions target, avoiding or offsetting CO2 emissions, by 2050, two whole decades after ‘last chance saloon’.

The impacts of both a 1.5°C and a 2°C temperature increase were examined in a 2019 report by the IPCC, entitled ‘A Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celsius (2.7 Degrees Fahrenheit)’.

The report projects that a 1.5°C increase in temperature will see extreme heatwaves become widespread and about 14% of Earth’s population will be exposed to severe heatwaves at least once every five years.

NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – which contributed data to the report, says this would increase to 37% with a 2°C increase as the deadly heatwaves experiences in India and Pakistan in 2015 may occur annually.

With a 2°C increase in temperature, an increase in heavy rainfall is expected, leading to higher flooding risks in high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, plus lower food availability, a loss of species and extinction in some areas, and an increase in deforestation and wildfires.

Further risks highlighted include instabilities in the Antarctic ice sheet, the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet and a rise in sea levels, more ocean ‘dead zones’ (where water has low oxygen levels and can’t support aquatic life), a warming of the seas, coral reefs declining to the point of almost extinction and increases in water scarcity.

Mr Lloyd said: “This Bill is significant in drawing attention to an issue where we do need a change in the law.

“Flash floods, deadly landslides and wildfires are things we have seen over recent years, and it is clear that climate breakdown is not a distant threat but something that is happening here and now.

“The government is set to miss its own targets to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and the UN has reported that we have less than ten years to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change.

“We must act with far greater urgency and ambition and show global leadership on this issue by investing in the green industries of the future, and support workers and communities as we make the transition to a low-carbon and socially-just economy.

“By doing this, we can raise our domestic climate ambition with a significantly enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target and demonstrate real leadership as the host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.”

Dr. Amy McDonnell, from the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill Alliance, said: “The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that any increase above 1.5°C will have disastrous effects on our planet, causing sea levels to rise, the loss of homes for millions of people and irreversible damage to Earth’s natural systems.

“The Bill is the UK’s best and last chance to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5°C commitment and limit the impact of catastrophic climate change.

“Ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow next November (COP26), MPs must ensure that Britain fulfils its international obligations and prevent runaway climate change. 

”All of us need to be involved in choosing the best solutions, and that’s why a Citizens’ Assembly is essential.”

The pivotal UN COP26 climate negotiations will be hosted in Glasgow in November 2021.

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