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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development) 5:49 pm, 7th September 2016

Yes, absolutely. We must take responsibility for our history. We live in such an industrialised country because of the extent of industrialisation that took place. Buildings in this very part of the world—even the building in which we are standing—had to be cleaned of the soot that had been generated, and those carbon emissions are having an impact today through the climate change that we are experiencing, so we absolutely have a responsibility to lead on these issues. Even in our own country, it is the people who can least afford it who are being hit the hardest. Pensioners living in fuel poverty during colder winters are finding their incomes squeezed as they try to heat their homes. Indeed, people who cannot afford air conditioning in the excessive heat of the summer, as we have seen in France, are feeling the impact. This concept works both at home and overseas. We have heard about all kinds of interventions. In my home town of Glasgow, we are introducing food waste recycling, with all of us having grey bins. It will be interesting to see how the uptake of that scheme goes; I encourage everyone to make the best of it.

Mary Creagh was absolutely right to say that this is one of the greatest challenges of our time. That is why there is not just a political, economic and social impetus behind tackling climate change, but a moral impetus, which is why the Government have a moral responsibility to show leadership on this issue and to ratify the Paris agreement as soon as they possibly can. This is much like the position on the Istanbul convention, which my hon. Friend Dr Whiteford is having to address by bringing forward a private Member’s Bill because the Government are dragging their heels so much. Again, this is another example of the Government ceding the moral high ground in global political leadership to other countries, which is quite disappointing.

I said to the Prime Minister earlier that we should mark the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek”. The fourth movie in the series has the crew going back in time to save the whales as a bit of a metaphor for the damage that our generation is causing to the planet. It is fair to say that, if we want to live long and to prosper, we really must tackle climate change.