Reports the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron would go against public wishes and uphold fossil fuel generation via fracking, at the most significant climate event of the year proved correct, on Tuesday.
At the UN Climate Summit in New York, Cameron joined 120 world leaders and more than 800 business, finance and civil society figures gathered at the UN to reach consensus on climate agreements, in the build up to negotiations in Paris, December 2015.
Cameron said: “We must agree a global deal in Paris next year. We simply cannot put this off any longer.”
Followed by explaining the UK's strategy: “We are investing in all forms of lower carbon energy including shale gas and nuclear.”
Reacting to Cameron’s speech at the UN climate summit, Friends of the Earth’s Campaigns and Policy Director Craig Bennett – who attended the summit – said: “Arriving at a climate change summit with a speech that promotes fracking is like trying to sell cigarettes at a hospital.”
The prime minister then said the UK is “fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil fuel subsidies which distort free markets and rip off taxpayers” – after the government offered millions to local councils to green light shale gas developments.
“With clean renewable power becoming ever cheaper, available now and accessible to ordinary people, we simply don’t need to frack. It's at best a red herring and at worst a dangerous folly,” Bennett said.
Cameron then said the UK needs a framework built on “green growth not green tape” and political leaders “have a duty to think long-term” on climate change.
Cameron also said the UK’s climate change efforts “means championing green free trade, slashing tariffs on things like solar panels". He also praised the solar industry, saying the UK “now have enough solar to power almost a million UK homes".
Bennett added that Cameron’s green record “leaves a lot to be desired”.
Just before Cameron’s UN appearance, Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) highlighted the largest climate march in history this weekend was “not a call for relaxed fracking regulations or more nuclear power. The marchers were calling for more renewable energy”.
Wildlife conservation group, WWF-UK said in response it wants to see the UK government to “lead the world in investment in clean, renewable energy and the phasing-out of fossil fuels".
On reaching an international agreement on climate change, Cameron said the whole world now needs “to step up” and deliver a “new, ambitious” and legally binding, deal to keep below 2 degrees Celsius warming, “with proper rules and targets to hold each other to account".
WWF-UK welcomed the recognition Cameron gave to the importance of reaching a global deal in Paris next year. “This Summit is just the beginning and world leaders will be judged by the climate agreement they sign in Paris in 2015.” Tuesday's summit is not part of the official UN climate treaty negotiations and was designed by Ban Ki-moon to add momentum to the process which is scheduled to conclude in Paris.
Cameron also said he will be “pushing European Union leaders to come to Paris with an offer to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030".
The government “must help secure an EU climate and energy package, which contains ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gases, increase energy efficiency, and promote renewable energy across Europe,” said WWF-UK.
On developing countries undergoing carbon emission restraints, Cameron said it is “completely unrealistic to expect developing countries to forgo the high carbon route to growth that so many Western countries enjoyed, unless we support them to achieve green growth".
Cameron backed “support to those who need it, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable” adding that there need not be “a trade-off between economic growth and reducing carbon emissions".
Cameron also revealed the UK aims to provide nearly £4 billion of climate finance over five years, as part of a commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on aid.
Ministers from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) also attended the UN Summit.
Two weeks ago DECC also released a report on securing a global climate change agreement for Paris 2015.
UK secretary of state for energy and climate change, Edward Davey said the UN summit on climate change “successfully fires the starting gun” in the lead up to Paris 2015.
“This has been a strong start to the huge efforts that will be needed to bring home the world’s first ever global deal on climate in Paris next year. We’ve seen politicians respond to the public demand to tackle climate change,” said Davey.
The new energy and climate change minister, Amber Rudd said: “For our climate change agreement to be lasting and successful it must result in long-term economic stability and growth for everyone. The move to a green economy offers great opportunity but this can only come if world leaders unite to provide certainty, clarity and confidence.”
DECC also released a carbon animation video to outline its carbon reduction goals.
During the conference, environmental charity and activist group, Greenpeace UK stopped a coal train in Nottinghamshire. Activist Franziska Grobke wrote from the halted train: “The first thing David Cameron should do when he gets back from New York is to scrap the plan to give taxpayers money to energy companies to keep coal burning.”
The summit ended with multiple pledges from across the globe for various investments, renewable energy targets and carbon emission cuts from national governments.
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