Like many, probably most, people in Bristol West, I am horrified by President Trump’s announcement last night that he is reneging on the US’s commitment under the Paris Climate Change agreement. The obligations for the US run for many years, they are supposed to be legally binding, and they include commitments to help fund work in poorer countries.
The Paris agreement set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, agreed ways of sharing the burden fairly, and decided on ways to help developing countries to develop technologies for renewable energy. This was the right thing to do.
It was a Labour government that created the world’s first Climate Change Act in 2008, setting targets for reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy technologies. Many other countries have followed that Labour example and I am very proud that environmentalism is built into our constitution as one of our key principles.
It is extraordinary that Donald Trump sees this as defending American people and jobs. We will all be affected by climate change, a clear and present danger for the entire planet’s population. Many countries have recognised investing in renewable energy is where many jobs of the future are.
But he is the President of the United States. He is accountable to Americans and they can, and hopefully will, hold him to account for this at the ballot box. What is unforgivable about Trump’s decision is that it will affect millions of people around the world who cannot vote him out of office.
My cousins who live in Chennai, a megalopolis on the east coast of India, are already amongst the millions experiencing the harm of climate change. With rising annual temperatures, decreasing reliable rainfall and resulting floods when the rains come (as the ground is too dry to absorb the water), they have suffered financially and emotionally. It’s pretty distressing to be trapped with your children for five days in a second floor flat with no power or water supply and floods up to the floor below, as happened to them in December 2015.
The only way we can tackle climate change is to work together. Every country in the world had signed up to the Paris Accord in 2015, other than Syria and Nicaragua. If the USA is allowed to get away with letting down the rest of the world in this way we will all suffer, including Americans.
A Labour government would implement our energy policy built on a commitment to meeting our climate change targets and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. We would ban fracking, insulate four million homes and use public procurement to support the creation of local energy companies and new co-operatives. We would introduce a Clean Air Act to cut dangerous emissions in our towns and cities. And we would ensure, through investment in renewable energy, that 60 per cent of our energy comes from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030.
Building a clean energy system for the future is the most important thing we can do for the next generation and generations to come. Many Americans are already challenging their President about his announcements – 60 US Mayors have already said they will stick to the commitments their city has made. I call on all Americans to join them in challenging Donald Trump – the planet and the world’s population cannot wait.