A global problem requires the global community to step up and provide solutions
It is those least responsible for climate change who are suffering the worst outcomes. The UK must be at the forefront of efforts to tackle it, writes Preet Kaur Gill MP
Action is clearly needed to prevent a global climate disaster. The declaration of a climate emergency must be a wake-up call to all those who have been sleepwalking into a calamity from which the planet may never recover.
The devastation is causing havoc around the world and consistently leaves the most vulnerable worst off. Poignantly it is also those who have done least to exacerbate the climate crisis who consistently bear the brunt, leading to natural disasters, social dislocation, loss of life and uncertain futures. Meanwhile, those with power are able to escape or avoid the results of our failures to protect the environment.
Far from addressing the climate crisis, the Conservative government has continued to support fossil fuel extraction around the world. Since 2010, the UK spent at least £680m of aid on fossil fuel projects. This is clearly unacceptable and flies in the face of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the (now former) Secretary of State for International Development committed to doubling the amount of aid spent on climate and environment over the next five years, a new government with a prime minister who has threatened to repackage and repurpose aid will have to be watched very closely.
The UK alone is unable to reverse the trends of the climate crisis, but we should reclaim our role at the forefront of efforts to tackle it – while ensuring countries in the Global South have adequate climate finance for the loss and damage caused by climate change, and that adaptation and mitigation efforts are in place.
A global problem requires the global community to step up and provide solutions. The UK should push for the regional, multilateral and international bodies we are members of to collaborate with one another and unite against global challenges and threats. To support this and to promote direct access for national and local actors to climate finance, Labour has pledged to direct multilateral climate finance through UN institutions like the Green Climate Fund.
When improving the outcomes of people impacted by the climate crisis in the Global South we need to listen to their experiences and act with them. We recognise the interconnectedness of climate, poverty, and inequality. We also recognise that any steps taken must focus on supporting the most vulnerable, including a strong gender perspective to ensure the needs of women are properly represented and understood.
Those most responsible should hold their hands up, take moral responsibility and address their policies which are contributing to the current climate crisis. The UK can lead that charge.
The next Labour government will divest Official Development Assistance away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources, and we will utilise export finance to promote the low-carbon energy sector. To support this further we have committed to ensuring that technologies developed in the UK are made available free or cheap to countries in the Global South. By appointing Danielle Rowley MP as shadow minister for climate justice with a cross governmental brief, we have recognised the need to integrate it as a priority in all strategies and policy decisions and reconfirmed our commitment to addressing the political and structural dimensions of the climate crisis.
As outlined in a World for the Many, we have set out the initial steps we will take to tackle climate change alongside poverty and inequality. We know there is a much to do but we are committed to working across government to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and build international solidarity; bringing about positive change and supporting sustainable development. so that we can live in a world that works for the many not the few.
Preet Kaur Gill is Labour and Co-operative MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston and shadow international development minister