Caroline Flint's speech to the CAFOD One Climate, One World Launch held at the McAuley Catholic High School, 17 October 2014
It is wonderful to join you today, and my congratulations to Rasha, Jade, Robyn, Cristina, Izzy and Angel on their work as CAFOD Ambassadors here at The McAuley Catholic High School.
I am delighted to receive the Action Card. And as your local Member of Parliament, it is now my job to make sure that those in power hear from me, as forcefully as you delivered your message today.
This evening you have laid out an articulate case this evening of the scale of poverty in the developing world, and the vulnerability to climate change.
And it will be the poorest who price the heaviest price.
So it is quite right that CAFOD, and its ambassadors and campaigners, are bringing people together across the country to urge politicians of all parties to take action to tackle climate change.
The scientific evidence that climate change is happening, is man-made and that urgent action is needed is overwhelming...
• Earlier this year, the IPCC produced its latest report with yet more evidence that man-made climate change is happening and will have a devastating impact if urgent action is not taken to reduce our carbon emissions and invest in mitigation.
• If we fail to act, climate change has the potential not only to de-stabilise and cause conflict between regions of the world, but to destroy the homes, livelihoods and businesses of millions of people across the globe.
• And yes, it will also affect people here in the UK, with unstable weather and increased flooding.
• If we consider that every continent, with the exception of Australia, has glaciers and ice sheets that cover 10% of our planet’s land area and hold 75% of the world’s water. Rising global temperatures will cause the melting of those banks of water, leading to rising sea levels. The Climate Institute report that in the past century, 80% of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glacial ice has disappeared. If this continues, its glaciers will have disappeared within a decade.
• As ice sheets and glaciers recede, so the power they hold to reflect back heat from the sun diminishes. So, in turn, more of the sun’s rays may be absorbed by our planet surface, warming it still further.
• But just imagine those communities that rely on run off from glaciers every spring, water that irrigates crops, and produces energy. Large areas of south America and Central Asia will be threatened by water shortages as the great glaciers retreat.
• And as sea level rises, over 600 million people live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level, and two-thirds of the world’s cities that have populations over five million are located in these at-risk areas. Increased risk of flooding, made worse by climatic instability.
I am proud that it was a Labour Government, with Ed Miliband as Energy and Climate Change Secretary that introduced the Climate Change Act...
• At that time, all three political parties appeared united about the scale of the problem and the measures that needed to be taken.
• The Act was regarded around the world as a model for others to follow, and over 60 countries have since followed our lead.
• That historic Act was passed by the House of Commons with just 5 MPs voting against.
But, despite all the evidence, the consensus that had built up around climate change has become fragmented...
• It is sad to see a growing group of MPs and Government Ministers who argue that climate change is either nonsense, too costly to tackle, or simply not our responsibility.
• The economic crash and recession have helped put climate change out of fashion, and made the whole agenda seem, at least to some, like an expensive luxury the country could not afford.
• It has provided encouragement to those who want to halt wind farm developments, or solar power, or resist plans to remove the carbon from our electricity supply.
• But they couldn’t be more wrong - decarbonising our economy isn’t something we should put on hold until better times: o The longer we delay action, the costlier mitigating and adapting to climate change will become. o And the opportunities to be a world leader, supporting jobs and growth will slip through our fingers. o We know that a transition to a cleaner energy supply will create innovation, new technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and it will stimulate science, investment and jobs.
At the Paris Conference in 2015, we must agree a global, legally binding treaty to cut carbon emissions.
• A UN climate agreement is a vital for cutting our carbon emissions, and mitigating the impact of climate change.
• It is also a vital foundation for the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, and the link between climate action and poverty reduction needs to be recognised in both processes.
• We have a real opportunity to take the lead in driving momentum towards a binding international agreement at the UN climate conference next year in Paris.
To have influence abroad, we must show leadership at home...
• That's why I have been clear that the next Labour Government will: o Make the UK a world leader in the green economy by 2025, creating 1 million new jobs; o Virtually decarbonise our power sector by 2030; o Expand the Green Investment Bank by giving it powers to borrow, driving green investment and supporting new jobs; o And reverse the decline in investment in renewables under this Government.
But to really show we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to rebuild the political consensus that we had when the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008.
• If we don’t rebuild consensus, the planning about how to respond to climate change will continue to be inadequate.
• The science is clear. The public know there is a problem. But, because of political division (mainly coming from the Conservative backbenches) we risk sleepwalking into a crisis on climate change.
This is where campaigning is so important, and where you can help...
• Climate change is one of the most important and challenging issues the world faces, but there are still some people we need to convince.
• Through campaigns like CAFOD’s ‘One Climate, One World’ campaign alongside a huge coalition of charities and other organisations, you have kept issues of world hunger, climate change, food production and self-sufficiency high on the agenda.
• It is sustained campaigning from charities like CAFOD, Christian Aid and others that will help raise the public profile and build the political pressure that is needed for us to get as ambitious an agreement as possible in Paris.
• Thank you to our McAulay School CAFOD Ambassadors for sharing their insight with us, and to all of you for helping to spread the message.
• Let’s keep up the pressure and good luck with your efforts.