Scientists have today published a landmark report warning of inevitable and “irreversible” damage to our planet due to global warming. In response, Labour is calling for Conservative-led Westminster Council to show more leadership to help tackle the climate emergency.
Today’s IPCC report is the result of the work of experts from 195 countries. It is the clearest message yet from the scientific community that human-induced climate change is with us already and causing extreme weather events, posing an existential risk to human life unless emissions are curbed rapidly this decade.
Whilst international action is needed, it is well understood that we won’t achieve net zero without local action. That is why Labour welcomes that, following intense pressure from Labour councillors, the Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, and that a draft Climate Action Plan has now been published outlining proposals to reach carbon neutrality.
Labour is now calling on the Council to go further and faster, made all the more important in light of the IPCC’s report. It is calling for stricter net zero requirements for building developments (including those classed as ‘minor’ which Westminster’s planning framework currently lets off the hook).
Plus, Labour is calling for a bold economic strategy to ensure the post-covid recovery is genuinely green. The Council must help create thousands of new green jobs; its flagship programme ‘Westminster on Wheels’, that upskills young people to teach them how to recycle bicycles to sell them on, is a good start but is miniscule in the level of ambition that is needed. It has only trained up 17 young people so far, falling far short of the mark of what is needed.
Council Leader Rachael Robathan is being asked to publicly name and shame a new group of Conservative MPs who have grouped together with the aim of bringing a wrecking ball to climate policy. Steve Baker MP and others are now engaged in an organised campaign to undermine government goals to achieve net zero by 2050, mistakenly arguing that the public purse ‘can’t afford it’. Experts from the Committee on Climate Change have demonstrated this is far from the truth, estimating net zero will cost less than 1% of GDP. The cost of failing to reach net zero would mean making the world close to uninhabitable by the end of the century.
Councillor Pancho Lewis, Shadow Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“Rachael Robathan needs to show real leadership by calling out climate sceptics in her party. They are attempting to spread misinformation whilst concealing behind a mask of ‘reasonableness’. Their politics are anything but reasonable, they are disingenuous, dangerous and potentially massively destructive. Today’s IPCC report should make that abundantly clear. Will she do the right thing and publicly call them out?”
Councillor Adam Hug, Leader of the Labour group, said:
“We need a Green New Deal in Westminster to create and upskill tens of thousands of workers so they can be part of a green future. Westminster Tory plans fall well short of the mark, in addition to letting developers off the hook. We expect far more from the Council and will continue to press them hard.”