Grahame Morris MP has made representations to the Chancellor about the need for urgent action to mitigate the climate crisis.
In a letter co-ordinated by Claudia Webbe MP, MPs express concern about the significant drop in oil prices, and the worrying prospect of key climate change targets being missed as global efforts are directed towards the coronavirus response.
The letter states that, ‘on Monday 20th April, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate fell as low as minus $37.63’ and, despite the government’s ‘perilously unambitious’ target to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2020, the Committee on Climate Change have warned that the UK is on course to miss its legally binding targets for 2023 to 2032. This has been made worse by the tax breaks that have been issued to oil companies by successive Conservative governments, such as in December 2018.
The letter illustrates the current state of the climate emergency; Europe saw its hottest year on record in 2019, mass hunger and displacement has been brought about by heatwaves and floods causing a 10% decline in global grain yields, and over a million people living near coasts have been forced from their homes owing to rising sea levels and stronger storms. It also notes that further destruction will most strongly affect countries in the Global South, who have contributed the least to climate change.
MPs are concerned that, if the actions of fossil fuel companies are left unchecked, crucial targets will be missed. The letter cites the example of ExxonMobil, who are currently projected to extract 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than in 2017. It also notes that, despite being aware that their industries were causing climate change in the 1980s, companies such as Exxon and Shell continued to fund climate change denial, and lobbied against environmental policies.
MPs are proposing the nationalisation of industries in order to aid in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible. The letter states that this move will require international co-operation, and that the protection for workers and communities during this period must be guaranteed.
The Easington MP has also supported a cross-party letter co-ordinated by Caroline Lucas MP, highlighting the need to consider the protection of the environment in the national and international pandemic response, in order to avoid ‘sowing the seeds of future pandemics.’
The letter cites the recent findings of leading experts from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Scientists outlined the disturbing relationship between human activity and the emergence of viruses such as the one we currently face, and stated that ‘future pandemics are likely to happen more frequently, spread more rapidly, have greater economic impact and kill more people if we are not extremely careful about the possible impacts of the choices we make today.’
The letter calls on the government enforce the proposals put forward by the IPBES scientists. These include:
- Ensuring that any economic support for industries such as aviation and intensive agricultural is conditional on their commitment to transition to sustainability;
- Properly funding health systems on the frontlines of pandemic risk, including by mobilising international finance to build health capacity in emerging disease hotspots;
- Adopting a ‘One Health’ approach at all levels of economic and development decision-making that recognises the complex interconnections between the health of people, animals, plants and our shared environment;
- Embarking on a fundamental system-wide reorganisation of the economic and financial system that marks an end to ‘business as usual’.
The letter stresses the importance of recognising the interdependence of human health, animal health, and the health of natural ecosystems, and states that ‘the concept of planetary health provides one framework for such an approach.’
Grahame Morris MP said, “We cannot afford to neglect one crisis whilst we deal with another; the findings from the IPBES illustrate that doing so would have potentially disastrous consequences. It is vital that the decisions currently being undertaken on economic recovery account for the environmental impact, and allow for meeting crucial climate change targets.”