Monday the 3rd of March marks the beginning of climate week. It is a timely and much needed opportunity in which we can raise awareness as to how we can best react to and combat climate change to create a sustainable future.
As you may recall, the PM used to profess climate change was his passion above all else, but now he is happy to have climate change deniers in his Government.
David Cameron pledged he would lead the greenest Government ever, however, not long after, he was allegedly quoted telling his staff to “get rid of all this green c**p”.
So much for “vote blue, go green”.
The increasing frequency of extreme weather events in the UK has increased the risk of flooding. According to the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) up to one million homes could be at significant risk of flooding by 2020.
I am sure my constituents won’t forget the floods which occurred in June 2007; they affected areas of my constituency including Agbrigg, Hemsworth and South Elmsall causing disruption and damage to homes and roads.
I know, from talking to residents, the devastating impact the floods had, one elderly lady in South Elmsall told me how she could do nothing but watch the flood water from a local beck slowly rising up her back garden until it flooded into her home. She was, understandably, very distressed.
Worryingly, recent data from the Environment Agency has revealed over 730 homes are at risk of flooding in my constituency, 280 of which are at a ‘significant risk’ with a 1 in 75 chance of flooding or greater in any given year.
The Committee on Climate Change is clear that the current level of Government support for managing flood risk will not keep pace with the combined effects of climate change and economic development in the future.
The Government cut funding for flood protection from £670 million in 2010/11 to £576 million in 2013/14. This month’s decision to partially restore funding still leaves the budget at £63.5 million below the budget in 2010.
Despite the abundance of research showing this extreme weather is directly linked to climate change, the current Government are denying climate change exists. They need to get real.
A Labour motion in parliament in 2011 condemned cuts to flood defence investment funding and called on the Government to bring forward spending on rural infrastructure projects for flood defences . (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111026/debtext/111026-0003.htm)
This cut in flood protection spending, coupled with the Tory climate change deniers, creates a recipe for disaster.
Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has failed to be briefed on climate change since taking up his Cabinet post:
“The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has never been briefed on climate change by the Government's chief scientist since taking up his Cabinet post 14 months ago...a Freedom of Information request revealed that the man in charge of preparing Britain for the effects of climate change has received just two briefings on the subject since taking up his post. Neither of them were from Sir Ian Boyd, the Chief Scientific Adviser at Mr Paterson's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).”
Extreme weather caused by climate change is not our only concern; Labour has always warned that climate change threatens national security because of the consequences for destabilisation of entire regions of the world, mass migration of millions of people and conflict over water or food supplies.
The events of the last few weeks have shown this is a national security issue in our own country too with people's homes, businesses and livelihoods under attack from extreme weather. The climate change consensus that once existed has frayed. Labour stands ready to work with good people from all parties to do what is necessary.
We need action on climate change now, this won’t happen while David Cameron and his climate change deniers are still in Government.