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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade 2:27 pm, 7th September 2016

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. When we talk about such matters in terms of carbon plans and carbon budgets, it can seem as though we are talking about a world separate from that understood by the people who listen to us. They understand when their homes are being flooded. They know that such things are the effects of climate change. What they need to know is that we are following what was the best legislative model in the world when it was set out in 2008 with cross-party agreement under the leadership of my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband. We achieved that here and it has become a model across the world, but we must follow it and the tragedy is that this Government have been backsliding.

The reason Ministers could not accept the cross-party olive branch that I extended was that, the night before, they knew that they were about to admit to the world that they still had not a single clue about how they were going to meet the promises and targets that they had already made to keep the UK safe from climate change. They knew that they were not even going to commit to a new deadline by when they might put such a plan together and that to come to this Chamber today—all smiles—in a cross-party endeavour to ratify the Paris agreement would have exposed them to the accusation of being arrogant hypocrites. They have avoided that charge, but they have opened themselves up to an infinite number more: incompetence, dithering, anti-business, anti-investment. They are a party divided between those who circle on the Back Benches saying that all these budgets and plans are just costly “green crap” and that we should get on with a future industrial based on fossil fuels and the few sane heads, some of whom are in the Chamber today—[Interruption.]