Last week we witnessed an unexpected development in the run-up to the general elections in May: a cross-party pledge to tackle climate change. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg warn that climate change is not only a threat to the environment, but also security, prosperity and poverty eradication and promise to fight together against the threats of the changing climate.
The party leaders have committed to seeking fair, strong and legally binding targets and to put an end to the use of unabated coal power. In effect, this means that if we were to continue the use of coal, measures would be put in place to remove the resulting emissions from the atmosphere, such as being captured and stored in rock formations. The message is clear: by securing our energy supply and curbing climate change impacts, we have a better chance at securing economic and social stability and prosperity.
The political party leaders pledge:
- to seek a fair, strong, legally binding, global climate deal which limits temperature rises to less than 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 surprising political cohesion on climate change has been welcomed by businesses that have often criticised the lack of political leadership on climate change and the low carbon economy. Indeed, this political unity inspires confidence in the investment of low carbon technologies, because regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections, tackling climate change will be on the political agenda of three largest political parties.
The pledge comes a few months before the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in November this year with the objective of setting a legally binding agreement on climate for all nations. Whether Cameron, Miliband or Clegg take the lead, the UK will be seeking to find a strong binding global climate deal.
The timing is right – official figures from the National Grid show that wind energy broke new records in January for weekly, monthly and half-hourly generation, compounding the message that we are now more than ever ready to invest in a low carbon future.