Labour’s ‘Environmental Ed’ takes on ‘Greenest Government Ever’

Labour leader Ed Miliband has declared that tackling climate change is the most important thing he can do in politics for the next generation, pledging to push for zero net emissions by 2050 if elected.

Speaking at a school in London, Miliband reaffirmed his party’s green credentials ahead of the General Election, on the same day that the Government released promising figures for UK greenhouse gas emissions in the third quarter of 2014.

Miliband said that 2015 is the biggest year for global action in half a century with a series of summits and conferences – including Paris 2015 – that can shape the future of climate change.

Speaking this morning (15 January) at Queens Park Community School in London, the Labour leader said: “The progress of the last 15 years in tackling poverty, improving health, on food security and access to sanitation could all be eroded if global temperatures are allowed to soar. I believe tackling climate change is the most important thing I can do in politics for my children’s generation. 

“So in Paris this year, a Labour government would be pushing for global targets for reducing carbon emissions that rise every five years with regular reviews towards the long-term goal of what the science now tells us is necessary – zero net global emissions in the latter half of this century.”

Realising change

Greenpeace welcomed the renewed focus on climate change, but called for immediate action rather than lofty rhetoric.

“Joining the global call for a zero carbon world by 2050 is an important step, but for that vision to become a reality we need to rapidly remove the most polluting fuels from our energy system, starting with coal, and give proper backing to the high-tech clean energy industries that can fill the gap and produce jobs and growth,” said Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven

“The government’s climate change advisers have called for our dirty coal power stations to be phased out within the next decade; now leaders of all political parties must commit to making this happen.”

Powering down

The gradual decommissioning of coal power stations is already underway according to new figures released today by the Government.

UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.6% over the year to Q3 2014 compared to the year up to Q2 2014. The energy supply sector was the biggest factor in that reduction with a 4% drop in emissions, continuing a promising recent trend.

The report said the improvement was driven by the closure of some coal generation plants and lower gas prices which led to an increase in gas used for generation, as well as increased renewables and a reduction in overall electricity generation.

Last week, Labour earned praise from Friends of the Earth for its proposal to ban fracking near vital underground water stores.

Brad Allen

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