You might have missed it among the other news, but over the weekend there was a notable moment of unity in British politics as the leaders of the three main parties signed a joint statement on climate change. This is a rare enough occurrence, particularly during election years, so it’s great to see.
The agreement was brokered by the Green Alliance and launched as part of the Climate Coalition’s campaign that has been happening around Valentine’s day. It’s not a long or detailed statement, but it does make three pledges:
- To seek a fair, strong, legally binding, global climate deal which limits temperature rises to below 2°C.
- To work together, across party lines, to agree carbon budgets in accordance with the Climate Change Act.
- To accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy and to end the use of unabated coal for power generation.
The first point is a reiteration of our national position on a global deal, but it’s good to see that we’re after something legally binding. The second point promises cross-party cooperation on carbon budgets, which is also welcome. Last year there was concern that the Conservatives would move to weaken the Climate Change Act, so their participation here is important. It hopefully signals that they won’t be ditching any talk of climate change as part of their response to the UKIP challenge.
The mention of coal is worth noting the third point. It pledges an end to the use of ‘unabated’ coal, leaving the door open for carbon capture and storage, but it should call time on plans for new coal.
Signing documents is easier than real action on climate change of course, but a commitment to working together across party lines makes that action more likely.