COP26 Conference Priorities — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:50 pm on 22nd July 2021.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) 1:50 pm, 22nd July 2021

Before I proceed, let me put on the record the apologies of Darren Jones, who cannot be here. He was a co-sponsor of the debate, but as Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, he has to be in the main Chamber for a Select Committee statement.

It is 100 days until COP26 begins in Glasgow, and it is more important than ever—it is vital—that the Government get their own house in order. This is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the great moment of hope that was the 2015 Paris agreement. It is deeply unfortunate that in recent months the Government have consistently chosen lip service over climate action. They have scrapped the green homes grant, which could have significantly reduced emissions from our homes. The planning Bill denies councils the ability to block new developments for environmental reasons. Most significantly, the Government have failed to set any direction on how to heat our homes in the future and how to expand the electricity grid for the doubling or trebling of our electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

Those changes and many more serve only to undermine our climate credibility on the international stage. The climate crisis is already damaging health through extreme weather, polluted air, food and water shortages, forced migration and the aggravation of disease. Just this week, the Met Office issued its first extreme heat warning. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, The BMJ and The Lancet all agree that climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st century.

We hold the COP26 presidency. It is our responsibility to push for serious ambition from countries worldwide—not only to influence them to legislate for net zero, but to achieve it as soon as possible. We have had a string of incredibly disappointing COPs in the years since the Paris agreement. Big decisions have been kicked further and further down the road.

If we want the negotiations to solve our climate crisis, and if we want this forum to be trusted by stakeholders and Governments around the world, the Paris rulebook must be finalised by the end of this COP. The responsibly for that lies with the Government as host. We must not only break the deadlock on article 6 and transparency; the UK must use this opportunity to make progress on the issue of loss and damage, as we have already heard. We have seen nations ravaged by the covid pandemic while also facing climate impacts that are causing devastation. Those vulnerable communities deserve new and additional finance to compensate for the irretrievable non-economic loss caused, as well as the more quantifiable damage caused by natural disasters. I welcome the COP president’s commitment to operationalise the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage by COP26. It is so important that we ensure that that network is more than just a website; it must be a living, breathing network of organisations and countries delivering technical assistance on loss and damage to those who need it.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.