At an event yesterday evening, Keith addressed a meeting on climate change entitled ‘It’s 5 to midnight – can we afford to gamble with our planet’s future?’ organised by Haringey Green Party in London. Due to his participation at a meeting in Paris at the same time, Keith sent his message via video, and was speaking in his capacity as Green Party spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change.
The main focus of his talk was of course the United Nations COP21 negotiations on climate, which are now entering their second week and which are tasked to find a global agreement on one of the hugest challenges ever to face humanity: climate change. It’s a key moment for decisive action, but what happens afterwards and in years to come will be equally important.
One of Keith’s key messages was the urgent need to limit average global warming increases as much as possible, and to keep it below the 2°C threshold as an absolute maximum, as agreed on by Governments in Copenhagen in 2009. In contrast to Copenhagen, the approach at Paris is a more bottom-up one and countries have been asked to come forward with national pledges on how they plan to reduce their emissions, by how much and by when. However, a general lack of ambition means that, combined, these pledges are still not enough to keep the planet on a below 2°C pathway, which is crucial if we are to limit the risk of runaway climate change.
Keith went on to outline some of the key elements which must be incorporated into the final outcome from Paris:
- To keep on track, the Paris agreement must be legally binding and set a long term measurable goal of phasing out global carbon emissions by 2050.
- National pledges should be revised every 5 years.
- Adaptation and mitigation must have equal emphasis and human rights should also be at the core of climate action, and
- adaption and mitigation should be properly financed.
While the Paris framework will hopefully be the start to an effective new chapter of international coordination, reducing real world emissions will ultimately depend on how committed and ambitious national governments are. In this regard, the actions of the EU, as a block of 28 Member States, will be crucial.
Following the talks in Paris, the EU will need to promptly embed the COP21 outcomes into all of its legislation and to increase its ambitions in order to phase out all of its own emissions in the next 35 years. Greens in the European Parliament will be working hard to help ensure that this is done.
Keith went on to outline how damaging many of the UK government’s policies are from a climate perspective; lack of investment and support for renewable energy, airport expansion, fracking and major new road-building programme being several examples, and how this urgently needs to change.
Keith concluded by saying ‘The fortnight of negotiations in Paris started with a fanfare of speeches from the world’s leaders. And today, if all is running to schedule, the last stages of negotiating the final text will begin. Let’s hope that the global community can overcome its many differences to reach a fair, ambitious and binding deal.
‘Greens at UK, EU and global level have been campaigning for action on climate for a long time and, regardless of the outcome, we will need to keep the fight up after COP21 as well. With this in mind, I would like to thank Haringey Green Party for organising such an important and timely meeting, and look forward to hearing about the outcome and your ideas going forward.’
The meeting was chaired by Bruce Kent and other speakers included Sian Berry, Green party mayoral candidate for London, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
See here for Keith’s full speaking notes.