February 14, 2015
The UK’s Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has joined his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, and opposition leader Ed Miliband in signing a declaration to step up the fight against climate change.
In a rare sign of unity three months before the general election, the leaders of the biggest parties in Parliament pledged in an emailed statement “to accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy-efficient, low-carbon economy and to end the use of unabated coal for power generation”.
This year is pivotal in the fight against climate change, because envoys from more than 190 nations aim to broker in Paris in December the first pact with pledges to limit emissions by all countries. With polls indicating no clear winner in the May 7 election, the pledge signals UK global-warming policy won’t change, regardless of the victor.
“The importance of this pledge cannot be overstated,” Unilever NV chief executive Paul Polman said in the statement. “This statement of cross-party recognition of the importance of climate action, as well as support for a legally binding global deal, sets a terrific example for other countries.”
The three leaders agreed to seek a deal in Paris that limits the temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). They also agreed to work together “across party lines” to agree carbon “budgets” that fix the amount of greenhouse gases Britain can emit over successive five-year periods.
The Paris agreement would replace in 2020 the existing Kyoto Protocol, which only sets targets on emissions for developed countries.
“This agreement represents inspiring leadership and true statesmanship by all three men,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said in the statement. “The political courage it represents on all sides is exactly what our world most needs in order to solve the climate crisis.”
The statement was brokered by the environmental charity Green Alliance, along with the environment and development organizations Christian Aid, CAFOD, Greenpeace, WWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Its release was timed to coincide with a climate protection campaign by the Climate Coalition, which groups 100 organisations.