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Fighting for 'the liberal, internationalist values which have made our country great'

Fighting for 'the liberal, internationalist values which have made our country great'
3 min read

Former Lib Dem President Tim Farron explains how the UK now needs strong climate change policy to enable strong foreign policy

This week, Centre:Forumpublishes the next chapter of its pamphlet called Economic Liberalism, Climate Change and Green Growth , a series of essays 10 years on from the Orange Book, all asking the same key question - what will be the key threats to Liberal values?

I have become more and more convinced that a world 2, 3 or 4 degrees hotter, freedom democracy and opportunity will be increasingly impossible to maintain.  Unless we have a strong climate policy, we will not have strong foreign policy.  
We are in a time of unprecedented change. Our national politics is unpredictable and fragmented. Globally, power is shifting from west to east. 20th Century norms are giving way: climate change, global inequality, population growth, resource scarcity and innovation will transform the global landscape.

Climate change increases the risk of conflict, as well as disease, migration, storms and famine. The 2010 national security strategy identified the primary threats faced by the United Kingdom: international terrorism, cyber-attack, international crime, the security consequences of the sudden mass migrations of peoples, and pandemics as a result of climate change.  

Last October, the Pentagon switched climate change from a “threat multiplier” to an immediate factor. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the International Panel on Climate Change, the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond and most recently President Obama in his State of the Union address all highlighted climate change as a key foreign policy challenge. But genuine, consistent political will in most UK parties is absent. In Obama’s words   “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.”

2015 will be a trend-setting year here and abroad, as global agreements on climate in Paris and sustainable development goals are forged. The best chance we have of security in the decades to come is by playing a strong role in the EU and the UN. Liberal Democrats are unashamedly proud of Ed Davey’s work in the EU, securing a strong EU target ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris in December and our work in Government to reduce carbon emissions, helping to make the UK a credible world player.  

Voting this election, perhaps more than any other, will indicate the kind of role that you believe Britain should play in the world. UKIP’s knee jerk reaction is to withdraw. But isolating ourselves from the challenges we face will weaken us, not strengthen us. We are not safer alone; we are not stronger alone. UKIP, and unless Cameron proves otherwise, the Conservatives, neither understand the complex threats we face together today, nor the diplomacy needed to tackle them. Liberal Democrats will not turn inwards to populism or nationalism: we will continue to fight for the liberal, internationalist values which have made our country great.

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