Yesterday was the launch of London Climate Action Week. This week will bring together people from across London together to focus on taking local, national and international action to tackle climate change. I was delighted to speak at the launch event yesterday to share some of the great work that is happening in Dulwich and West Norwood and the work that I am doing in Parliament to push the government to do much more to ensure urgent action on climate change.
From the daily correspondence I receive on this issue and my conversations with constituents, it is clear that residents in Dulwich and West Norwood care deeply about climate change and are demanding action now. Last week, I attended the #TimeIsNow lobby organised by the Climate Coalition. I was delighted to meet with over 40 of my constituents to discuss their concerns about the climate crisis. We had a wide-ranging discussion addressing sustainable transport, plastic pollution, landscape strategies for biodiversity, veganism, the need for electronic goods to be repairable in order to reduce plastic waste, and air pollution.
A 2018 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made clear that we are running out of time. The IPCC found that we have just twelve years to limit global warming to 1.5°C. This may sound small, but a 1.5% increase in global temperatures would see global sea levels rise by 48cm and increase in dangerous heatwaves in London. Any warming further than this would prove catastrophic. The IPCC called for immediate action and a transition to a carbon free economy.
The Government has abjectly failed on this issue. Under the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition and the subsequent Tory Government, we have seen the Department for Energy and Climate Change dissolved, subsidies for renewable energy, sustainable homes and retrofitting scrapped, and the disastrous decisions to expand fracking sites and build a third runway at Heathrow airport. None of these actions belong to a Government committed to protecting our environment for the future.
I have long been calling for urgent action on climate change and I am pleased that the UK Parliament, led by the Labour Party, has recently become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency and that, as a consequence, the Government has made a commitment to make the UK’s carbon emissions net-zero by 2050. This has been followed by several other countries including Ireland. Achieving net zero now requires radical action by the Government.
Tackling climate change requires many small actions and changes of behaviour, but it is also essential that there are significant changes to our economic system. One vital change is the divestment of funds invested in harmful, exploitative fossil fuel companies, and their reinvestment in sustainable low carbon industries. I am delighted that both Southwark and Lambeth Councils have made a commitment to divest their pension funds out of fossil fuels, and I have been calling for the trustees of the Parliamentary pension fund to do the same.
Climate change is the most important issue of our times; it is an emergency. It is incumbent on everyone to take the necessary steps to reduce carbon emissions, however the step change we need to tackle climate change cannot be delivered without bold political leadership. I will continue to call on the Government to honour their commitment to transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 with immediate practical and effective action.