Nick’s CAMPAIGNS FOR the environment

As Shadow Environment Secretary, Nick made a strong case for co-ordinated action to tackle global warming. In his 2009 speech to the Annual GreenTech Foundation Environment Conference, he affirmed “We can be in no doubt that the challenge of climate change is the greatest facing the 21st century.”

Nick has also been a longtime supporter of protecting international wildlife, and has worked with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to support a crack down on poaching and ban the ivory trade. In 2015, he co-founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Endangered Species, on which he now serves as Vice-Chair. Nick is also the RSPB’s Species Champion for the Lapwing.

Nick has championed the countryside and landscape protection, opposing inappropriate development and landfill, championing recycling, and personally taking part in litter-picking on local roads and beaches to draw attention to the problem.

In 2018 Nick convened a co-ordinated stewardship strategy to preserve and improve the local environment through the Arun Valley Vision Group, which will include the creation of further wetland habitats to act as a flood reservoir and nature reserve.

UK record on climate change

The UK has made strong progress on reducing its carbon emissions since 2010.  The 2013 Energy Act laid the groundwork for decarbonising the UK's energy sector, and in May 2019 the independent Climate Change Committee announced it would be possible for the UK to end all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This ambitious target, which Nick supported, goes well beyond the original target of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation.

The Clean Growth Strategy identifies and targets the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and the transition to a low carbon economy, while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate.

To prepare for the move away from fossil fuels the Government has invested more than £52 billion in renewable energy since 2010.  In particular it has agreed to support and expand offshore wind, which will power more than 30% of British electricity by 2030.

As a result in May 2019 the UK was able to power itself for a week without burning coal.

The challenge of climate change of course extends beyond the UK.  The International Climate Fund has been set up to provide £5.8 billion to help the world's poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth.  Through it, the UK works in partnership with developing countries to promote low carbon development, help poor people protect themselves from the effects of climate change and reduce deforestation. 

A walk by the river

10 Climate actions to celebrate

1.    The UK passed the world’s first Climate Change Act over a decade ago with cross-party support.  This gave us both a framework to set statutory carbon budgets and set up the independent Committee on Climate Change.

2.    Since 2000, independent analysis shows that no other major industrialised country has done more than the UK to cut CO2 intensity (the measure of carbon for each pound of GDP). We have seen reductions of an average of 3.7 percent a year, compared to the EU average of 2.3 per cent and a G7 average of 2.2 per cent.  The last time emissions in the UK were this low was in 1888 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, and our progress is accelerating; between 2010 and 2018, we reduced UK greenhouse gas emissions by approximately a quarter overall.

3.    Ending coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas driven by decisive policy action: a UK carbon floor price (in addition to the European ETS). We have seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our first “coal free” generation day last April and in May 2019 went a record week without relying on coal to generate power.

4.   Renewable electricity generation has quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total.

5.    We’ve used this achievement to establish the global Powering Past Coal Alliance with Canada – a coalition of 80 national and sub-national governments, businesses and organizations committed to phasing out unabated coal generation by no later than 2030.

6.    Our renewables mix is diverse but we are rapidly developing the incredible potential for offshore wind around our coastlines, with the world’s largest offshore wind capacity (8GW) and a launch last month of new £250 million sector deal to provide at least 30 percent of our electricity from offshore wind by 2030 (and a requirement that at least 60 per cent of the supply chain is UK sourced by 2030).

7.    We want to go further and faster and the UK was the first major industrial economy to ask for independent advice (from the Committee on Climate Change) on how to reach a Net Zero economy after the publication of the IPCC report last year.

8.    The low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.

9.    The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

10.    We have consistently been in the vanguard of international action, helping to lead the Paris 2015 Climate conference, delivering more than £6 billion in International Climate Finance over this Parliament and bidding to host the crucial 2020 UN climate negotiations here in the UK.

We can be in no doubt that the challenge of climate change is the greatest facing the 21st century.
— Nick's speech to GreenTech Foundation conference