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Government accused of failing to deliver ‘low-carbon’ pledge abroad

18 December 2020

Campaigners call for support for climate-vulnerable countries

Simon Holliday

The Revd Sue Parfitt, a member of Christian Climate Action, was arrested last Friday at an Extinction Rebellion roadblock outside a Ministry of Defence facility near Bristol. The protest was to highlight greenhouse-gas emissions from the military and was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. Ms Parfitt, who is 77, declined to accept a caution and was charged with Obstruction of the Highway. She will appear in court in 2021

The Revd Sue Parfitt, a member of Christian Climate Action, was arrested last Friday at an Extinction Rebellion roadblock outside a Ministry of Defenc...

THE Government this week promised to invest £12 billion to help Britain to become a low-carbon economy. Campaigners have criticised the “unfulfilled promise” of financial support for countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

On Monday, the Government released a White Paper outlining how it will seek to reduce the environmental impact of Britain’s economy, building on the ten-point plan that was announced in November.

The ten points are to: advance offshore wind; drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen; deliver new and advanced nuclear power; accelerate the shift to zero-emission vehicles; encourage green public transport, cycling, and walking; encourage “jet zero” and green ships; have greener buildings; invest in carbon capture, usage, and storage; protect the natural environment, and bring about green finance and innovation.

The plans outlined in the White Paper include investing in carbon capture and storage schemes designed to take carbon emissions out of industrial plants and trap them beneath the ground in empty oil and gas reservoirs; creating 40 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030; investing £1.3 billion in the provision of electric charging points for vehicles; and expecting all newly installed heating systems to be low carbon by the middle of the next decade.

The investment and plan are combined with the promised creation of 220,000 new jobs across the whole of the UK, which the Government says will form part of a “green economic recovery” after the pandemic.

Climate Ambition Summit. Christian Aid welcomed the UN’s Climate Ambition Summit, held online on Sunday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, saying that it was a chance for the world leaders attending to renew their commitment to defeating climate change.

Speaking on Saturday, the climate lead for Christian Aid, Dr Kat Kramer, said: “The pledges made in Paris in 2015 were a welcome first step, but only put us on track to a world of three degrees. What made the Paris agreement fit for purpose was the requirement for countries to strengthen these pledges at least every five years, and it is good to see so many doing just that.

She referred to an earlier pledge by wealthy countries, including the UK, to provide $100 billion each year to help climate-vulnerable countries. “This promise remains unfulfilled.”

On Saturday, Pope Francis sent a video message to the summit. He said once again that the coronavirus pandemic and climate change “weighed most heavily upon the lives of the poor and vulnerable”.

“Politics and technology must unite behind an educational process which favours a cultural model of development and sustainability focused on fraternity and an alliance between human beings and the environment.”

He outlined plans by the Vatican to contribute to tackling climate change, including an initiative, the Global Compact on Education, to encourage RC schools and universities to offer a more holistic education, combined with the Economy of Francesco, a scheme bringing together economists and business leaders to generate ideas for positive change.

The Scottish Religious Leaders’ Forum welcomed the Climate Ambition Summit, and issued a “Statement of Commitment” on climate change last Friday, promising action in three key areas. It was read out on YouTube by the Sikh representative for the forum, Ravinder Kaur Nijjar, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, the Rt Revd Dr Martin Fair.

The statement committed the leaders to: “reflecting deeply in prayer, meditation and worship to discern how to care for the earth and each other”; making “transformational change” in their own lives and the lives of their communities; and “cal­­ling on governments, businesses, and others who exercise power and influence” to put the Paris Agree­ment into effect, and “to make the trans­ition to . . . a healthy, resilient, zero-emissions future”.

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