Paris Climate Change Conference — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:58 pm on 17th December 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 3:58 pm, 17th December 2015

My Lords, I warmly thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for introducing the debate. Her credentials in this field need no defending. Her consistent interest throughout her parliamentary life in Westminster has been very special and challenging.

There are lots of people to be thanked and congratulated on having brought about the positive results in Paris: the Ministers, all the leaders from around the world, their civil servants, industry—all sorts of people. But we should also give a special word of thanks to the NGOs, which, when it was not popular to be raising these issues, were nagging and urging us to see the seriousness and immediacy of the issue. They have driven forward with so much energy towards what happened.

I see a partnership with those NGOs in fulfilling the potential. Let us remember that all we have from Paris is hopeful potential. I know from the sphere of work in which I have worked for most of my life that it is crucial to set aside money to tackle issues of justice and adaptation in less affluent countries. The challenge we face in doing that is ensuring that the money gets to the people who will really make a difference. In that sphere the contribution that can be made by NGOs is almost second to none. Therefore, I hope that the Government will reassure us that they will make partnership with NGOs a priority in bringing about the potential results.

I make just one other observation. It was very significant that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said that this issue was not just about low carbon but a healthier future for people. That is a vision which we all ought to share if we want a cleaner and healthier environment. We need to be imaginative and say that this issue is not just about alternative energy. We are trapped into talking about alternative energy all the time. We do not give sufficient emphasis in this country to energy conservation. It should be a real priority for new engineers starting their careers to consider how they can make a contribution in the sphere of energy conservation. We also need to look at different techniques from those used in the past. I have never understood why we have not given a higher priority to geothermal energy.

We have had a tremendous moment of hope and a great gate has been opened. We now have to march through it, but consistency will be vital. If we are to play the lead role in the world that we want to, everything the Government do has to be seen to be utterly consistent with the objectives to which they subscribed in Paris and in which they played a key part. Measures which they may think are justified, but which to the world seem to be marching in the opposite direction, will be highly counterproductive. Therefore, consistency and comprehensiveness by the Government are vital.