No more free passes – we have 12 months to show we are serious about saving the 1.5C target

A clear message needs to go out that being in the club of nations means playing your part to get the world on course over the climate crisis

Ed Miliband
Sunday 14 November 2021 15:21
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1.5C target in ‘intensive care’, says Ed Miliband

As the dust settles after Glasgow, the world needs to face a difficult truth: 1.5C is in intensive care, and we’ve got 12 months to show we can save it. Cop26 made modest progress in tackling the climate crisis, but modest progress is not the transformation we need.

So what do we do between now and the world retaking its climate exam at Cop27 in Egypt? The UK remains the Cop president for the next year, and we have to learn the lessons of what we didn’t succeed in doing in Glasgow. That starts with recognising that every major emitter needs to do more if we are to halve global emissions by 2030.

A clear message needs to go out that being part of the club of nations means playing your part to get the world on course for 1.5C. There can be no free passes anymore. We should rewrite our trade deal with Australia – not to dilute the temperature goals, as the government has been doing, but to strengthen them and put 1.5C at its heart.

Next, to maximise that pressure on big countries, we need to rebuild the “high ambition coalition” of vulnerable and ambitious developed countries that was mobilised to bring about the Paris Agreement of 2015. That means finally delivering on the promises made to developing countries, including for the $100bn (£75bn) of finance to help them fight the climate crisis. It is deeply regrettable that even in the final hours of Glasgow, vulnerable countries were still struggling to have their voices heard.

It’s time also to consistently lead by example in the UK. Too often in the run-up to Glasgow we faced both ways. It’s time finally to say no to the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria and end the plan for the new Cambo oil field, the first phase of which would produce the equivalent in CO2 of running 18 new coal-fired power stations for a year.

Above all, the government must finally get with the programme and create the green recovery that we need – that shows we can deliver economic and climate justice together. Labour has pledged £28bn extra for each and every year between now and 2030 to create the greener, fairer country we need. That’s about a national mission to insulate every home so we can cut bills and carbon emissions; creating good, well-paid jobs in new industries, including offshore wind; and helping existing industries, like steel, to navigate the climate transition, protecting the vital jobs that so many communities rely on.

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My most important message is that we cannot give up hope. The real lesson of Cop26 is that the progress on climate that we have seen is because of the work of movements over decades. What gave me cause for optimism was the young people, the workers, the cities, the businesses, the coalition of civil society mobilised to fight for ambition and justice.

It is in the success of these movements, here and around the world, forcing governments to act, that lies the best hope for humanity.

Ed Miliband is the shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy and Labour MP for Doncaster North

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