Today I spoke in the House of Commons in the debate on COP26 on the target of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C. With the COP26 summit beginning in Glasgow in a matter of days, the world’s attention will be on us here in the UK. This is a critical moment for our planet and for our country. The overriding goal of the summit must be to put the world decisively on course to deliver on the ambitions of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and keep the hope of limiting global heating to 1.5°C within reach.
Labour has set our five demands of the Government for the summit:
- To lead by example by investing £28bn every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis
- To support the most vulnerable by reversing the overseas aid cut and massively increasing vaccine supply to the world’s poorest countries
- To pressure the big polluters by calling for 1.5C-aligned targets from the big emitters and phasing out fossil fuels
- To protect nature by ending deforestation and introducing a robust Net Zero and Nature test for all government spending
- To mobilise our major businesses behind climate action by requiring financial institutions and FTSE100 companies to publish their carbon footprint and adopt credible 1.5C-aligned transition plans.
People across Manchester Gorton and the UK are deeply concerned about the lack of action taken by this Government to tackle the climate emergency, both at home and around the world, and many constituents have written to me raising their concerns.
You can read my full speech below.
In 2015, the world came together and settled on a historic ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. However, six years on we are nowhere near meeting this target and instead we are fighting to keep the ambition alive.
The conclusions of the IPCC report earlier this year were described by the UN Secretary-General as “code red for humanity.” It is clear now we are in a state of crisis.
The world is now hotter than at any time in the past 12,000 years.
Over a million species are now threatened with extinction – many in the coming decades.
And this year every corner of the planet has experienced extreme weather: from devastating cyclones, hurricanes and storms to soaring temperatures, wildfires, and flooding.
Action in this decade will be critical to preventing catastrophic climate breakdown. And yet, we know the current pledges will not be enough to limit global temperature rises.
Tackling the climate emergency can no longer be consigned as a problem for tomorrow. There is no more time for delay and no room for excuses.
When discussing the climate emergency, I often find myself thinking about my faith. Central to Islam is the idea of harmony with the natural world – in the Qur’an it states: “waste not by excess for Allah loves not the wasters.” Allah also calls on Muslims to “walk gently upon the earth” and to treat our shared home with care and reverence.
Many Muslims are already coming together to protect our planet and tackle the threat of global warming.
In September, led by the Muslim Council for Britain, mosques across the country held a Big Green Jummah for Friday prayer.
The UK has its very first eco-mosque in Cambridge –committed to sustainability, with a near zero carbon footprint.
And, just earlier this week, Muslim organisations came to together to issue a joint statement ahead of COP26 calling for urgent climate action.
I would of course be happy to facilitate a meeting for the Minister with any of these groups if he would like to learn more.
With COP26 just around the corner, it is imperative the Government lead by example.
Climate action and green investment must begin at home.
And yet, the Government has committed a measly £4 billion of funding for low-carbon initiatives – a quarter of which has already been scrapped alongside the disastrous Green Homes Grant.
This small figure does not even come close to matching the scale of the crisis we face.
While simultaneously failing to pump the necessary funds into green initiatives, the Government is supporting the opening of a new coal mine in Cumbria, as well as the Cambo oil field.
If nothing else, COP26 must signal the final death knell for coal and fossil fuels. The Government could set an example for the world by ending all oil and gas exploration in the UK and throw its weight behind the shift to renewable energy.
My constituents in Manchester Gorton care deeply for the future of our planet, they are desperate for the Government to step up and act before it is too late.
Should they fail to do so, this Government will be remembered for squandering our last, best chance to tackle the climate emergency.