In My View: Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood

The climate emergency is the single biggest issue we face both nationally and globally. To prevent the most catastrophic consequences of global warming we must limit the increase to 1.5C.

The climate must be at the centre of all of our political and economic decision making, yet the Tory Government are failing to show the leadership we need.

COP26 is a critical opportunity to secure a global agreement on the scale of climate action needed to save our planet.

I attended the conference last week and it was inspiring to meet with parliamentarians, experts and activists from across the world working on the solutions needed to prevent climate change.

However, the UK Government’s last-minute preparations risk squandering the precious opportunity we have as the host nation.

There is scant evidence of a concerted diplomatic effort by the UK Government over the past two years to secure the commitment at COP26 of the most polluting nations and to give confidence to the countries of the global south that the UK is committed to a just transition.

The Government’s approach to the UK’s own net zero challenge is also falling far short.

Publishing a net zero strategy at the last minute before COP26, continuing to permit the exploration of new oilfields in the North Sea and a new coalmine in Cumbria, and a budget which hardly mentioned green investment are not the actions of a Government sufficiently committed to climate action.

In contrast, our local councils are delivering at pace. I am proud of Lambeth and Southwark councils, which were among the first in the country to declare a climate emergency and are both making climate action a top priority.

But they need additional resources and powers to make the scale of change that the climate emergency demands, including in relation to the planning system, where tackling the climate emergency must become a core aim.

When I was first elected in 2015, I brought together organisations and individuals in my constituency who care about climate change and we formed an organisation called the Dulwich and West Norwood Climate Coalition.

Ahead of COP26, we delivered our letter to the Prime Minister signed by hundreds of local residents and community organisations. We called on him to secure the agreement we desperately need to tackle the climate emergency.

My constituents across Dulwich and West Norwood understand the scale and the gravity of the climate emergency.

But this local action must be supported by the Government through leadership on the international stage to secure the ambitious agreement necessary to secure the future of our planet for our children and grandchildren.



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