As the Tories rip themselves and the country apart, focussing all their efforts on Brexit, they are ignoring the Climate Emergency that is imperilling us all.
Time is running out and we cannot adhere to old formulas and old thinking. It is time for radical new solutions to transform our economy and save our planet.
During my time at the Cabinet table, as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, I made it my mission to take on the vested interests in the fossil industry, in the Treasury, and in the Tory Party. As a result, and against considerable opposition, energy policy in this country was changed forever. Quadrupling the use of wind energy in the UK made us THE global leader in wind energy, halving the cost of this technology, and reducing electricity bills, in just four years.
Under my stewardship, over £50bn of new investment went into UK renewables. Thanks to these policies, we now have nearly 10,000 turbines supplying 15 million homes per year.
At the international climate negotiations, I was proud to be the lead negotiator for the UK and was also a leading voice in the EU, setting ambitious 2030 targets that ultimately paved the way for the global Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5C.
There is still a lot to fight for at the international level to ensure countries set targets to meet the Paris Agreement. Here in the UK, hard-won agreement with the Lib Dem policy on Net Zero UK by 2050 now turns to new battle-grounds: the way in which we achieve this vital target, and who can deliver this promise.
It is clear to me that we must keep people with us, ensuring the most vulnerable don’t suffer as we switch to greener technologies. To do this, we must tap into green business and green finance to deliver the innovation and cash necessary to drive the transition.
Tackling climate change is key to my plans to build up our economy and help those most affected by globalisation and austerity. New thinking means identifying the win-wins to drive early, rapid emissions cuts. As a strong advocate of spending on warm homes for vulnerable people, I developed policies that led to 1 million homes being insulated in the space of just two years. Fewer leaky houses mean warmer homes, cheaper bills, and a cleaner environment.
At the end of the coalition, the tangible impact of the causes I championed in driving progress was clear. Sadly, since governing alone, the Tories have sold off the Green Investment Bank for quick cash, they have scrapped my ground-breaking Zero Carbon Homes policy, banned our cheapest form of energy – onshore wind – and overseen investment in renewables plummet. Meanwhile, Tory under-investment in zero-carbon heating alternatives has left us vulnerable to over-reliance on Russian gas.
What is the Tory response to the zero-carbon heating crisis? Fracking! The idea that the way out of the climate crisis is to develop new fossil fuel reserves is both reckless and dangerous. If we burn even one-fifth of our current global reserves we will surpass our goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. In government, I limited the progress of fracking by introducing strenuous environmental standards. But now, I would go even further. It is time to ban fracking completely. We need a climate-emergency budget to decarbonise heating and provide fair, clean, and safe solutions for keeping people warm.
We need to Decarbonise Capitalism. This is the game-changer in my policy platform, one that can multiply the UK impact well beyond Net Zero UK. It is a nonsense to ask the people in the UK to go Net Zero without also asking multinational businesses and banks to do the same.
That’s because the very businesses which are responsible for emissions fifteen times greater than that of the UK itself are financed here in London. And that investment, in the trillions of dollars, is still being pumped into looking for more oil, coal and gas when we already have too much in existing reserves.
I am committed to changing the rules to ensure that the UK’s efforts to reach Net Zero are not undermined by our own financial center. The prize if we succeed is to redirect trillions of pounds from dirty, high-carbon businesses to green, profitable enterprises, providing both climate solutions and the jobs of the future.
And imagine, if we catalyse the growth of net-zero technologies in the UK through ambitious policy-making, British businesses can be the ones to serve the world’s urgent zero-carbon needs. We can have the world’s green finance center here in London. But, this cannot happen whilst we are the fossil-fuel finance capital of the world.
This year, my focus has been on engaging a ‘coalition of the willing’ in the City – from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, to MPs across the political spectrum, and city institutions themselves, to make these changes happen. At a recent debate in Westminster, my proposals to combine strong financial and economic logic with a deep moral understanding of the need for rapid climate action won the day.
Our Party has an incredible record on climate change so far and I have been proud to be there every step of the way. Together we’ve brought down technology costs, we’ve helped to negotiate international agreements, and finally, our decade-old policy to have a Net Zero UK by 2050 has been adopted by the UK Government.
We have but one political cycle left to start making deep emission cuts. The next Party Leader will be the last who has the opportunity to help avert climate chaos. Together we can make Net Zero work for the UK and lead the world in achieving the same.
Back me for Leader and join me in this fight – there is no time to waste.