My Lords, I thank most warmly my noble friend Lord Rooker for his powerful introduction to the debate and his consistent and ongoing work in this area. It is also important to take this opportunity to put on record our cross-Floor appreciation of the unremitting and passionate commitment of the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in this sphere, as well as of the similarly total commitment and enthusiasm of my noble friend Lord Prescott.
It is sometimes important in debates to listen to other people, not just ourselves in this House. The leadership provided by Greta Thunberg has impressed us all, and has been there in the leadership of so many members of civil society for a number of years. I quote Christian Aid:
“There is a global climate emergency. Climate change, which has been largely caused by developed countries, is wreaking havoc in many developing countries. Many are forced to declare a state of emergency due to extreme weather and climate impacts, such as Mozambique in the aftermath of”,
“Climate change is now the biggest factor setting back efforts to end poverty. Extreme weather and climate impacts hit every populated continent in 2018, killing, injuring and displacing many millions of people, and causing major economic damage. 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, with average global temperatures nearly 1°C above the pre-industrial average. Current international pledges to cut emissions place us on track for around 3°C of warming—which could have a catastrophic impact. Climate injustice is rampant: richer countries have continued to delay the necessary action and defended incumbent industries and vested interests such as the fossil fuel sector. Meanwhile demands by developing countries for more finance and technology have been largely ignored. Climate finance is not a matter of aid but a matter of justice to repay the debts owed from using up the global carbon budget”,
in our industrial revolutions in the past. It continues:
“Averting further serious impacts of climate change requires an urgent, rapid, and large-scale response by governments all around the world, action and investment which are tantamount to a state of emergency. A state of emergency is justified: the usual politics of incremental change is not enough to cut GHG emissions fast enough. There is massive public support in the north and global south for rapid, large scale action to protect the environment. Politicians must wake up”.
They are right. Indeed, the Secretary-General of the UN himself was right when he spoke out so strongly last year, reminding us of our responsibility to take international action. If we hear nothing else from the Minister in his response today, I hope that he will make a reassuring and convincing case that the arrangements for an emergency are in fact being put in place across government and that all departments are being encouraged to see their role and to play a full and active part in bringing together the essential aggregated policy that will require the mobilisation of the Government as a whole.
Others have spoken of their grandchildren. I will say only this: when I look at my grandsons and granddaughter, and when I think of the generations beyond, I do not know how we can face them unless we take action. What my noble friend Lord Rooker said in opening this debate is crucially important. This is no longer the time for expressions of good intentions and moral conviction; this is the time for action and we need to see it taking place. We have heard from my noble friend that the arrangements and the policies necessary to fulfil what should be done are in place. It is now a matter of putting them into action.