Some edited extracts below from the UK’s leading politician speaking for the environment, Caroline Lucas. Her speech, which the Minister [The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Dan Rogerson)] and the Shadow Minister [Barry Gardiner], strongly acknowledged in their concluding speeches, follows:
From the official Hansard report:
“The lessons that we need to learn from the recent floods are that our spending on flood protection is shockingly inadequate, and that we must not have Ministers who deny the link between the burning of fossil fuels, man-made climate change, extreme weather and enormous threats to our society – threats that the Government are exacerbating through their inequitable and unscientific climate targets, and their obsession with helping big energy companies to extract every last drop of oil and gas that is out there.
“Crucially, there must be a fundamental shift towards seeking to work with nature, rather than against it. Not only would such an approach benefit wildlife and nature, but it is the best way to reduce our vulnerability to flooding and extreme weather events, and to increase our resilience. We know that allowing development on floodplains puts more people at risk. We also know that climate change is making extreme rainfall events more frequent and intense. We need solutions that work with nature, rather than against it.
“The Government’s ongoing attacks on the planning system are a real problem. Sensible, long-term development control in the public interest is being sacrificed at the altar of mindless, short-term GDP growth at any cost. Development on floodplains and in areas of high flood risk, not just now but for the lifetime of a housing development, needs a stronger, more accountable planning system.
“I object to the Secretary of State’s (for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles) view that the climate debate is polarised, as he claimed, between sceptics and zealots. Organisations such as the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, insurance industry bodies, the World Economic Forum and PwC have clearly paid a lot more attention to the science than he has. These organisations, which are not in any way environmentalist, are all warning that if we continue with business as usual and fail to make radical cuts to emissions, we are on course to seeing 4°, if not 6°, of climate change within our children’s lifetimes.
“If this Government want credibility as regards protecting the UK from the increased risk of flooding and other climate risks, we need radical action to cut emissions in line with both science and equity. That means leaving about 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground, not handing out tax breaks to companies to find and exploit yet more reserves of oil and gas that we cannot afford to burn.
“It means not just accepting but strengthening the fourth carbon budget in line with the science, to secure the economic and employment benefits of leading the transition to a zero-carbon economy. It means leadership to ensure that action on climate change is not just an issue for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, but a top priority for all the Government.”